Palynology, Petrography and Paleoecology of the Hernshaw - Fire Clay Coal Bed in the Central Appalachian Basin

  1. C. Blaine Cecil,
  2. Cortland Eble,
  3. C. Blaine Cecil,
  4. James C. Cobb,
  5. Donald R. Chestnut Jr.,
  6. Heinz Damberger and
  7. Kenneth J. Englund
  1. Cortland F. Eble1,
  2. William C. Grady2 and
  3. William H. Gillespie3

Published Online: 15 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/FT143p0133

Carboniferous Geology of the Eastern United States

Carboniferous Geology of the Eastern United States

How to Cite

Eble, C. F., Grady, W. C. and Gillespie, W. H. (1989) Palynology, Petrography and Paleoecology of the Hernshaw - Fire Clay Coal Bed in the Central Appalachian Basin, in Carboniferous Geology of the Eastern United States (eds C. B. Cecil, C. Eble, C. B. Cecil, J. C. Cobb, D. R. Chestnut, H. Damberger and K. J. Englund), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/FT143p0133

Author Information

  1. 1

    U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia

  2. 2

    West Virginia Geologic and Economic Survey, Morgantown, West Virginia

  3. 3

    U.S. Geological Survey, Charleston, West Virginia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1989

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875906478

Online ISBN: 9781118667316

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Keywords:

  • Arborescent and herbaceous lycopods;
  • Central Appalachian basin;
  • Hernshaw - Fire Clay coal bed;
  • Lycospora;
  • Miospore and maceral distribution;
  • Paleoecology;
  • Palynology;
  • Petrography

Summary

Vertically-continuous increment and full bed thickness channel samples of the Hernshaw coal bed (Kanawha Formation, Middle Pennsylvanian Series) in southern West Virginia and its equivalent in eastern Kentucky, the Fire Clay coal bed (Breathitt Formation), were analyzed palynologically and petrographically to determine the paleoecology of the ancient Hernshaw-Fire Clay peat swamp. Arborescent and herbaceous lycopod and fern (trees and herbs) miospores dominate the palynoflora, although small spores assignable to calamites and Cordaites also occur frequently. Typically, the bed is compositionally stratified. Basal increments are commonly high in Lycospora and vitrinite content, and pass upward into more fern and herbaceous lycopod miospore-rich layers which also contain increased amounts of inertinite (especially semifusinite) macerals. This type of miospore and maceral distribution of the Hernshaw - Fire Clay coal is thought to indicate a gradual doming of the peat, suggesting that the ancient swamp may have been a raised, ombrogenous peat system, analogous to the modern domed swamps of equatorial Indonesia and Malaysia. The overall low ash-yield (generally less than 10 percent) and low sulfur (generally less than 1 percent) content of the Hernshaw - Fire Clay coal is consistent with this interpretation.