Paleoenvironment Reconstructions – An Aid in Predicting Acid Mine Drainage Problems
Frank T. Caruccio, John C. Ferm, 1977. "Paleoenvironment Reconstructions – An Aid in Predicting Acid Mine Drainage Problems", Interdisciplinary Studies of Peat and Coal Origins, P. H. Given, A. D. Cohen
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Form and his associates have been engaged in an extensive program of recognizing and mapping environments of coal deposition in the Appalachian coal field from Pennsylvania to Alabama. By comparing ancient coal-bearing rocks to modern deposition analogues, a set of criteria has been developed for recognizing environments, ranging from fresh water alluvial plains to tidally influenced marshes and swamps behind beach barriers (“back barrier sediments”). Caruccio has shown that the acidity of mine drainage from strip mines in the bituminous coal field of Pennsylvania is determined to a large extent by three interrelated factors. These include the reactivity of the pyrite found in the coal and the associated strata, the presence of a catalyst (iron bacteria), and the neutralizing capacity of the existing ground water. All these are indigenous to particular sedimentary paleoenvironments that were delineated.within the Carboniferous Allegheny Formation.
A comparison of Caruccio’s and Ferm’s data reveals that the coals rich in reactive pyrite are found in back barrier and lower delta plain deposits, and coals poor in reactive pyrite can be associated with upper delta and alluvial plain settings. Because most Appalachian coal beds are known to represent at least two depositional environments throughout their areal extent and mineable coals are found in all four ma'jor environments., a criterion appears to be available for predicting the areal .distribution of acid mine drainage problems without costly and time-consuming analytical procedures.
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Interdisciplinary Studies of Peat and Coal Origins
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.