Resin rodlets, sclerenchyma strands and woody splinters, which are collectively called rodlets, were studied by chemical, optical petrographic, and scanning-electron microscopic (SEM) techniques. A study was made of such rodlets from the bituminous coal beds of the central Appalachian basin (Pennsylvanian; Upper Carboniferous) of the United States. Comparisons were made with rodlets from coal beds of the Illinois basin, the Southern Anthracite Field of Pennsylvania, the St. Rose coal field of Nova Scotia, and European and other coal fields. In order to determine their physical and chemical properties, a detailed study was made of the rodlets from the Pomeroy coal bed (high volatile A bituminous coal; Monongahela Formation; Upper Pennsylvanian) of Kanawha County, West Virginia. The origin of the rodlets was determined by a comparative analysis of a medullosan (seed fern) stem from the Herrin (No. 6) coal bed (high volatile C bituminous coal; Carbondale Formation) from Washington County, Illinois. Rodlets are commonly concentrated in fusain or carbominerite layers or lenses in bituminous coal beds of the central Appalachian basin. Most of the rodlets examined in our study were probably derived from medullosan seed ferns. The three types of rodlets are distinguished on the basis of cellularity, morphology and fracture. The resin rodlets studied by us are noncellular and appear to be similar in properties and origin to those found in coal beds of the Middle and Upper Pennsylvanian of the Illinois basin. The resin rodlets extracted from the Pomeroy coal bed exhibit high relief and high reflectance when polished and viewed in reflected light; they are opaque in transmitted light. In cross section, the resin rodlets are oval to round and have diameters ranging from 60 to 450 ??m. Many are solid, but some have vesicles, canals or cavities, which are commonly filled with clay, probably kaolinite. Typically, they have distinct fracture patterns ("kerfs") in longitudinal and cross sections and many are characterized by dense (probably oxidized) rims. The orientation and amounts of void space and mineralization of resin rodlets in coal have resulted in much confusion in their recognition and classification. The resin rodlets are petrographically recognized as sclerotinites of the inertinite maceral group. We here propose that resin rodlets be assigned to the maceral variety of sclerotinites termed "resino-sclerotinite" because of their presumable resinous origin. Other investigators have confused some fusinitized resin rodlets with fungal masses, which have different morphological properties and which probably have different chemical properties. We here propose that such fungal masses be assigned to the maceral variety of sclerotinites termed "fungo-sclerotinite.". The sclerenchyma strands examined in our study are cellular, thick-walled, and crescent-shaped in cross section. They exhibit high reflectance and high relief and belong to semifusinite and fusinite of the inertinite maceral group. Sclerenchyma strands are commonly associated with resin canals in Medullosa and related seed-fern genera, which are common in coal balls of the Illinois basin. We here propose adoption of the maceral varietal terms "sclerenchymo-fusinite" and "sclerenchymo-semifusinite" for these bodies. The woody splinters in the Pomeroy coal bed are cellular and thin-walled and have scattered pits as much as a few microns in diameter. They are dark brown to black in transmitted light and commonly have a lower reflectance than the resino-sclerotinite and sclerenchymo-fusinite of the Pomeroy coal. The woody splinters belong to semifusinite and fusinite of the inertinite maceral group. The maceral varietal terms "xylemo-semifusinite" and "xylemo-fusinite" are here proposed for these bodies. Elemental chemical data for the resin rodlets of the Pomeroy coal bed of the central Appalachian basin indicate that resin rodlets have significantly lower atomic H/C and O/C ratio
Additional publication details
Properties, origin and nomenclature of rodlets of the inertinite maceral group in coals of the central Appalachian basin, U.S.A.