Lower and lower Middle Pennsylvanian coals, recovered from an exploratory drilling program in southwestern Virginia, were analyzed for their palynomorph content. Results show them to be dominated by spores produced by arboreous lycopsids. Lycospora pellucida and Lycospora pusilla generally are the most common species, with others, namely Lycospora granulata, L. micropapillata and Lycospora orbicula being locally abundant. Densosporites, Cristatisporites, Radiizonates and Cingulizonates, representing small lycopsids, and Granulatisporites, produced by small ferns, and perhaps some pteridosperms typically are sub-dominant taxa. The recovered palynofloras are similar in overall composition making individual coal bed identification and correlation very difficult, if not impossible. However, the introduction and extinction of a few forms do assist the correlation of packages of strata, on both an intra- and interbasinal scale. Dictyotriletes bireticulatus is first observed in basal Lee Formation strata, at about the level of the Cove Creek coal bed. Radiizonates aligerans and R. striatus also appear more abundantly at this level, although some forms have been observed in older, Pocahontas Formation coals. This level essentially coincides with the Namurian C/Westphalian A boundary, based on plant megafossil evidence. Laevigatosporites minor, L. vulgaris, Endosporites globiformis, E. zonalis and Granasporites medius are first seen consistently just above the Sewell coal bed. Radiizonates aligerans, R. striatus and Densosporites irregularis are last seen in the early Middle Pennsylvanian, at about the level of the Splash Dam coal bed. Schulzospora rara occurs throughout Early and early Middle Pennsylvanian strata, and is last seen in the Manchester coal. The Manchester is directly overlain by the Betsie Shale, a widespread marine unit; the base of the Betsie marks the Westphalian A/B contact. When compared with palynomorph assemblage zonations published for the Western Interior, and Eastern Interior Basins, Early and early Middle Pennsylvanian palynofloras from the Central Appalachian Basin compare most favorably with early Morrowan strata. Analysis of bench samples indicates that Lycospora typically dominates basal and middle portions of Early and early Middle Pennsylvanian coals. More terminal layers often contain higher percentages of Granulatisporites (and related trilete, sphaerotriangular genera, e.g. Lophotriletes, Acanthotriletes, Deltoidspora) and Densosporites (and related trilete, crassicingulate genera, e.g. Cristatisporites, Cingulizonates, Radiizonates). This temporal change is consistently observed and may primarily reflect a water table change within the paleomires from consistently high (covered with water or at least water-logged most of the time) to intermittently low (occasional substrate exposure).
Additional publication details
Lower and lower Middle Pennsylvanian coal palynofloras, southwestern Virginia