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The Lower Freeport coal bed in west-central Pennsylvania is interpreted to have formed within a lacustrine-mire environment. Conditions of peat formation, caused by the changing chemical and physical environments, produced five coal facies and two mineral-rich parting facies within the coal bed. The coal bed facies are compositionally unique, having developed under varying conditions, and are manifested by megascopic, petrographic, palynologic and quality characteristics. The initial environment of the Lower Freeport peat resulted in a coal facies that is relatively high in ash yield and contains large amounts of lycopod miospores and moderate abundances of cryptotelinite, crypto-gelocollinite, inertinite and tree fern miospores. This initial Lower Freeport peat is interpreted to have been a topogenous body that was low lying, relatively nutrient rich (mesotrophic to eutrophic), and susceptible to ground water and to sediment influx from surface water. The next facies to form was a ubiquitous, clay-rich durain parting which is attributed to a general rise in the water table accompanied by widespread flooding. Following formation of the parting, peat accumulation resumed within an environment that inhibited clastic input. Development of doming in this facies restricted deposition of the upper shale parting to the margins of the mire and allowed low-ash peat to form in the interior of the mire. Because this environment was conducive to preservation of cellular tissue, this coal facies also contains large amounts of crypto-telinite. This facies development is interpreted to have been a transitional phase from topogenous, planar peat formation to slightly domed, oligotrophic (nutrient-poor) peat formation. As domed peat formation continued, fluctuations in the water table enabled oxidation of the peat surface and produced high inertinite concentrations toward the top of the coal bed. Tree ferns became an increasingly important peat contributor in the e upper facies, based on the palynoflora. This floral change is interpreted to have resulted from the peat surface becoming less wet or better drained, a condition that inhibited proliferation of lycopod trees. Accumulation of the peat continued until rising water levels formed a freshwater lake within which clays and silts were deposited. The development of the Lower Freeport peat from a planar mire through transitional phases toward domed peat formation may be an example of the type of peat formation of other upper Middle and Upper Pennsylvanian coal beds. ?? 1991.
Additional Publication Details
Facies development in the Lower Freeport coal bed, west-central Pennsylvania, U.S.A.