West Virginia is the only place in the United States where an entire section of Pennsylvanian age (Upper Carboniferous) strata can be seen. These strata occur within a wedge of rock that thins to the north and west from the southeastern part of the State. The progressive north-northwesterly termination of older Pennsylvanian geologic units beneath younger ones prominently outlines the center of the Appalachian basin of West Virginia. Over most of West Virginia, Lower and/or Middle Pennsylvanian strata unconformably overly Upper Mississippian (Lower Carboniferous) strata. Sediment deposition was accomplished by a complex system of deltas prograding north and west from an eastern and southeastern source area. More than 100 named coal beds occur within the Lower, Middle, and Upper Pennsylvanian rocks of West Virginia and at least 60 of these have been or are currently being mined commercially. Collectively, these coal beds account for original in-ground coal resources of almost 106.1??109 t (117??109 tons). West Virginia ranks fourth in the United States in demonstrated coal reserves. In 1988, West Virginia produced 131.4??106 t (144.9??106 T) of coal, third highest in the United States. Of this annual production, 75% was from underground mines. In 1988, West Virginia led the nation in the number of longwall mining sections currently in place. West Virginia's low-volatile coal beds are known worldwide as important metallurgical-grade coals, while the higher-volatile coal beds are utilized primarily for steam production. ?? 1993.
Additional Publication Details
Regional and economic geology of Pennsylvanian age coal beds of West Virginia