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Abstract

The thickest and most laterally continuous upper Carboniferous molasse in the central Appalachians is located in the Southern Anthracite Field of northeastern Pennsylvania. Substantial deposits extend throughout northeastern Pennsylvania where >90% of the total anthracite (original reserves) in the United States and the thickest coal beds of the eastern United States are located. The abundance of and demand for this resource allowed the region to prosper in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In Pottsville, Pennsylvania, the exposed Upper Mississippian to Middle Pennsylvanian molasse reveals a progressive evolution from a semiarid alluvial plain to a semihumid alluvial plain to a humid alluvial plain. The anthracite beds occur and thicken with increased humid conditions. The progression is also exposed in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, where convenient access to the underlying Lower Mississippian strata is available, thus providing a section of all Carboniferous formations in the region. Finally, in Lansford, Pennsylvania, a renovated deep anthracite mine illustrates the historical methods and working conditions that existed to extract the valuable resource and allow the region to flourish and fuel the Industrial Revolution.

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