Abstract

Coals from the No. 5 Block coal beds (Westphalian D) of the central Appalachian basin are noted for their blocky, dull character and their low ash and low sulfur content. The beds are multiple benched, with rock partings separating benches. Individual benches have limited lateral extent and, where thick, are dominated by bright, high-ash coal at the base and dull, low-ash coal in the upper parts. The duller coals contain more exinite-group and inertinite-group macerals than the brighter coals. These coal beds are encased in sandstone units dominated by fining-upward sequences. The overall depositional setting is an alluvial-plain environment with northwest-flowing channels spaced approximately 20 km apart. The channels were flanked by clastic swamps about 7 km wide. Low-ash peat accumulated in areas of the flood plain most distant from the channels. These peat-accumulating swamps were about 8 km across. In a few instances low-frequency flood events introduced fine siliciclastic sediment into the peat swamps, depositing a thin layer of sediment on top of the peat. This sediment layer is thicker where the underlying coal is the thickest. These thick coal areas are topographically lower than surrounding coal areas. This relationship between coal thickness, parting thickness, and topography indicates that these peat swamps were planar at the time of deposition. Individual coal benches contain abundant preserved cellular tissue (telocollinite, semifusinite, and fusinite) at most locations, suggesting that robust vegetation was widespread in the swamps and that the morphology was planar. The high concentrations of exinite-group an inertinite-group macerals in the upper parts of benches resulted from selective decomposition and oxidation of the peat in subaerial and aquatic planar-swamp environments.

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