The inorganic geochemistry and mineralogy of three cores from the Anderson-Dietz 1 coal bed, a 15.2-m-thick subbituminous coal bed in the Tongue River Member (Paleocene) of the Fort Union Formation, were examined (1) to determine if the cores could be correlated by geochemical composition alone over a total distance of 2 km and (2) to identify the major factors that influenced the geochemistry of the coal bed. Chemical data (46 elements on a coal-ash basis) for 81 coal samples and 4 carbonaceous rock samples, with most samples representing a 0.6-m-thick (2-ft) interval of core, were grouped into compositional clusters by means of cluster analysis. Seven major clusters were produced; two of these clusters can be used to correlate the coal bed throughout the study area. Data from scanning electron and optical microscope analyses indicate that several factors influenced the geochemistry of the Anderson-Dietz 1 coal bed. The majority of mineral grains in the coal bed are interpreted to be detrital (water borne); evidence includes the presence of rounded to subrounded quartz grains having two-phase, aqueous fluid inclusions characteristic of hydrothermal or low-to-moderate grade metamorphic quartz. These quartz grains are found throughout the coal bed but are most abundant in samples from the midpart of the bed, which was influenced by detrital input associated with the deposition of the clastic rocks that form the split between the Anderson and Dietz 1 coal beds 900 m to the east of the study area. In addition to the detrital minerals mentioned above, volcanic ash that was fluvially transported to the sites of peat deposition or possibly deposited as air-fall volcanic ash also affected the geochemistry of the coal bed. For example, crandallite(?), a mineral reported to form as an alteration product of volcanic ash, is found in seven samples from the coal bed. The presence of quartz grains containing silicate-melt inclusions in eight samples from the coal bed.provides further support for a volcanic ash component. Other factors that probably affected the geochemistry of the coal bed include (1) detrital input associated with the deposition of the roof rocks of the coal bed, (2) peat-forming processes and plant material, and (3) epigenetic ground-water flow. ?? 1993.
Additional publication details
Factors affecting the geochemistry of a thick, subbituminous coal bed in the Powder River Basin: volcanic, detrital, and peat-forming processes