Abstract

The varied applications of paleobotany to coal resource studies, coal technology, and to fundamental physical and chemical research on coal are briefly indicated. The usual conception of paleobotany is not as broad as this, and many of the studies of fossil plants have been conducted without reference to the part the plant materials assume in composing coal. The interrelationship of paleobotany with the physical constitution and petrography of coal is an intimate one. which is too involved for treatment in the present paper. Chief emphasis is devoted to review of plant microfossil investigations during the past several years.The consistent abundance of plant microfossils in coal and its associated rocks is now generally recognized. One of the greatest difficulties in using this material for correlation and for extending our knowledge of the plant composition of coal has been in systematic (taxonomic) treatment of the materials. The reviews of recent literature are presented chiefly with reference to the diverse systematic approaches of various authors. The contrast between essentially nonbotanical or morphologic classification schemes, which are simpler to apply and which may serve adequately for local correlational studies, and those studies conceived on a more fundamental basis of plant taxonomy, for paleogeographic and ecologic interpretation of botanically related groups, is presented. Both viewpoints should be kept clearly in mind, since differing circumstances of study and differing objectives may suggest the advisability of using one rather than the other method of systematic treatment of these fossils. No other fossils are so conveniently available from the coal deposits of primary interest.

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