In the northwestern part of the San Juan basin, Colorado, thick high-volatile B bituminous coal deposits in the Upper Cretaceous Fruitland Formation are associated with nearshore marine sandstones of the Pictured Cliffs Sandstone. Detailed work along the outcrop and examination of drill cores, revealed two coal-bearing zones in the lower 60 m of the Fruitland Formation. Each zone is up to 13 m thick and consists of interbedded bright and dull coal (average ash values of 17 and 34% on a moisture-free basis, respectively), thin fine-grained clastic partings and abundant altered volcanic ash partings. Isopachs of the interval between the top of the Pictured Cliffs Sandstone and a marker bed (Huerfanito Bentonite Bed) in the underlying Lewis Shale show linear zones where the interval abruptly thickens. These zones, which trend northwest to southeast, represent areas where the shoreline paused during an overall migration to the northeast. Isopach maps of coal in the lower part of the Fruitland Formation and subsurface correlation of shoreface sandstones with coal zones show that the thickest accumulation of coal is 20-25 km landward of these coeval shorelines. The Fruitland coals may be compared to the high-ash peats of the Dismal Swamp in the southeastern U.S.A., which form in pocosin mires about 20 km inland from the Atlantic coast. Clastic deposirion, resulting from coastal processes, precludes the formation of peat in low-lying mires adjacent to the shoreline. The high ash yield, numerous partings and the relationship with the coeval shoreline suggest that the coals in the lower part of the Fruitland Formation accumulated in mires that were transitional from low-lying to raised. ?? 1992.
Additional publication details
Peat accumulation in coastal-plain mires: a model for coals of the Fruitland Formation (Upper Cretaceous) of southern Colorado, USA