The Beckley Seam – An Example of a Back-Barrier Coal in Southern West Virginia
M. J. Robinson, R. A. Melton, 1977. "The Beckley Seam – An Example of a Back-Barrier Coal in Southern West Virginia", Interdisciplinary Studies of Peat and Coal Origins, P. H. Given, A. D. Cohen
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Although thick coal or, peat beds are known to accumulate in many depositional environments, the exact factors contributing to accumulation of any particular bed are often obscure. A notablV exception is the Beckley coal bed of southern West Virginia which has been so extensively prospected and mined that its mode of deposition, although complex, is readily apparent. The principal controlling factors for coal accumulation are (1) a deltaic wedge of sediment which prograded seaward onto a partially filled lagoon and provided a near sea level site for coal accumulation and (2) a large beach-barrier which formed seaward of the lagoon and provided a reducing environment in which peat could accumulate. Within this deltaic- back-barrier milieu, the primary back barrier drainage restricts the distribution of coal deposits to island-like patches whereas the thickness of the coal is apparently controlled by the secondary drainage system. Knowledge of these controlling factors enhances exploration and development of this and similar back barrier coals, as well as contributing to our understanding of Carboniferous peat- forming environments.
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This publication represents the proceedings, of a symposium on The Geology, Paleobotany, Geochemistry, and Microbiology of Peats." The symposium was held during the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America and associated societies, which took place in Miami, 18-20 November, 1974, and was jointly sponsored by the Coal Geology Division of the Society and the Organic Geochemistry Division of the Geochemical Society. Fourteen papers were presented, and nine are included in this publication. Five authors elected to make other arrangements for publishing their work; but the abstracts of these five papers, as submitted for inclusion in Abstracts with Programs, volume 6, number 7, 1974, are included here for completeness. Peats are of interest to scientists in a variety of disciplines: coal geology, organic geochemistry, soil science, plant ecology, the general ecology of food chains, agronomy, and environmental studies. Workers in many of these fields contributed to this symposium, but it is perhaps fair to say that the central unifying core is the consideration of peat as the precursor of coal. From a broad and general earth science point of view, peats and coals are of special interest because (a) such sediments contain higher concentrations of organic matter than any other common sedimentary deposits, and (b) in most peat beds and coal seams, the greater part of the organic matter and part of the mineral matter are autochthonous in the strictest sense, so that the many biological and chemical fossils that they contain are valid indicators of the organisms from which the organic matter was derived or of the environment of deposition. By contrast, although the reservoir and source rocks of petroleum do contain chemical fossils indicating their origin, reservoir rocks at least, cannot, of their nature, contain relevant fossils in the ordinary biological sense.