Vertical increment samples of the Mary Lee coal bed, collected along an inferred mire interior to mire margin transect, were studied palynologically, petrographically and geochemically to determine if any vertical or lateral changes in coal composition could be detected. Results show the Mary Lee palynoflora to be dominated by Lycospora spp. (arboreous lycophytes), with other lycophyte genera, Crassispora (Sigillaria) and Densosporites (small lycophytes), occurring less frequently. Commonly encountered fern/pteridosperm miospore genera include Leiotriletes, Granulatisporites, Lophotriletes and Schulzospora. Calamospora, representing calamites, and Florinites, representing cordaites, are minor constituents of the overall palynoflora. Petrographically, the Mary Lee coal bed contains high percentages (> 75% mineral matter free, mmf) of vitrinite macerals, with cryptotelinite being by far the most common type. Cryptogelocollinite is the second most abundant vitrinite maceral. Inertinite maceral percentages are variable, ranging from 8% to 30% (mmf) and liptinite macerals are a relatively minor constituent of the Mary Lee coal bed (3-8% mmf). Both vertical and lateral changes in coal composition occur along the transect studied. Lateral changes include an increase in ash yield and sulfur content from the interior to margin; for example, the average ash yield and sulfur content at location 073 (most interior) are 13.7% and 0.55%, respectively, whereas at location 083 (most marginal) the average ash and sulfur values (calculated from coal increments only) are 32.3% and 3.62%, respectively. Palynofloral changes, from the interior to margin, include a general increase in Lycospora pusilla (Lepidodendron) over Lycospora pellucida (Lepidophloios) and an increase in fern and calamite spores and cordaite pollen. An increase in poorly preserved miospore assemblages was also observed in this direction. At locations 016 and 026, coal increments between the lower and middle partings were barren of palynomorphs, except for one increment in column 016. Petrographically, these increments were completely (> 95% mmf) dominated by cryptotelinite; both liptinite and inertinite macerals were conspicuously absent. In contrast, increments above the middle partings at these locations contained elevated percentages of inertinite macerals, relative to more interior locations. Vertical changes were also noted. At mire interior locations, basal coal layers contain either an arboreous lycophyte-dominant assemblage, with abundant Lycospora pusilla, or a lycophyte-fern/pteridosperm co-dominant assemblage. This palynoflora grades upward into a Lycospora pellucida, L. granula-dominant palynoflora in the middle layers and ultimately into a palynoflora containing an abundant fern/pteridosperm element. Petrographically, the coal at these locations is dominated overall by cryptotelinite, with an increase in inertinite occurring in the uppermost increments. The overall dominance of arboreous lycophytes and cryptotelinite in the Mary Lee coal bed suggests that the Mary Lee paleomire developed under predominantly wet conditions. The moderate (at interior locations) to high (at marginal locations) ash yield of the coal further suggests that the mire developed under planar to near-planar conditions. ?? 1994.
Additional publication details
Coal compositional changes along a mire interior to mire margin transect in the Mary Lee coal bed, Warrior Basin, Alabama, USA