Abstract

The Ordos Basin of north-central China is well known for vast energy resources. This nonmarine interior basin developed on the North China-Korean platform following the Late Triassic Indochina orogeny and, for a time, contained a large freshwater lake prior to being uplifted into its present form at the close of the Mesozoic. Lower to Middle Jurassic coal occurs in the fluviolacustrine Yan'an Formation along the southern margin of the basin in the Huanglong coalfield. In the northeast part of the field, the formation ranges from 0 to 180 m in thickness and is divided into five fining-upward members, each representing a regressive-transgressive lacustrine cycle. Low-sulfur, high-volatile bituminous coal is complexly distributed in the lowest member of the Yan'an Formation. Deposition of this member was influenced by two tectonic events that controlled coal occurrence. First, regional uplifts were produced by the Late Triassic Indochina orogeny and left as highlands on the pre-Yan'an, Triassic land surface; in the lowest member, coal beds thin toward and pinch out against these highlands. Second, syndepositional tectonism of the Jurassic through Cretaceous Yanshan orogeny created a series of northeast-trending folds that were topographically expressed as evolving highs and lows. Swamps and resulting peat accumulation preferentially occupied the subsiding paleodepressions. Because of the tectonic influence on peat accumulation, coal beds thin and merge toward anticlines and thicken and split toward synclines. In addition, coal quality is documented to be less variable along a northeast trend than along a northwest trend.

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