Abstract

Although virtually unknown in the northeastern United States, Tertiary strata occur in limited areas in western New England. The most significant of these is a small lignite deposit at Brandon, Vermont. Lignite, of mid or early Tertiary age, occurs here in a very restricted area, associated with kaolin, ocher and the oxide ores of iron and manganese. Recognizable plant tissues in the Brandon lignite consist entirely of the remains of hardwood trees and shrubs, comprising nearly 100 species represented by wood, seeds, fruits and pollen. Approximately one-fourth of the flora has been botanically identified, and the generic composition indicates that the deposit formed in a humid subtropical or warm-temperate environment. Histological studies have been made on the lignite and on identified individual plant constituents. Chemical analyses have been made on selected components of the lignite and compared with similar analyses of living botanical equivalents. Data are presented which show that the original organic composition of plant tissues exerts a strong influence on physical and chemical changes accompanying "coalification."

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