The Western Kentucky No. 4 coal is a high-volatile B to high-volatile C bituminous coal that has been heavily mined along the southern margin of the Western Kentucky Coal Field. The seam has a reputation for rolling floor elevation. Elongate trends of floor depressions are referred to as "dips" and "rolls" by miners. Some are relatively narrow and straight to slightly curvilinear in plan view, with generally symmetric to slightly asymmetric cross-sections. Others are broader and asymmetric in section, with sharp dips on one limb and gradual, ramp-like dips on the other. Some limbs change laterally from gradual dip, to sharp dip, to offset of the coal. Lateral changes in the rate of floor elevation dip are often associated with changes in coal thickness, and in underground mines, changes in floor elevation are sometimes associated with roof falls and haulage problems. In order to test if coal thickness changes within floor depressions were associated with changes in palynology, petrography and coal quality, the coal was sampled at a surface mine across a broad. ramp-like depression that showed down-dip coal thickening. Increment samples of coal from a thick (150 cm), down-ramp and thinner (127 cm), up-ramp position at one surface mine correlate well between sample sites (a distance of 60 m) except for a single increment. The anomalous increment (31 cm) in the lower-middle part of the thick coal bed contained 20% more Lycospora orbicula spores. The rolling floor elevations noted in the study mines are inferred to have been formed as a result of pre-peat paleotopographic depressions, syn-depositional faulting, fault-controlled pre-peat paleotopography, and from compaction beneath post-depositional channels and slumps. Although the association of thick coal with linear trends and inferred faults has been used in other basins to infer syn-depositional faulting, changes in palynology within increment samples of the seam along a structural ramp in this study provide subtle evidence of faulting within a specific increment of the coal itself. The sudden increase in L. orbicula (produced by Paralycopodites) in a single increment of a down-ramp sample of the Western Kentucky No. 4 coal records the reestablishment of a rheotrophic mire following a sudden change in edaphic conditions. Paralycopodites was a colonizing lycopod, which in this case became locally abundant after the peat was well established along a fault with obvious growth during peat accumulation. Because many coal-mire plants were susceptible to sudden edaphic changes as might accompany faulting or flooding, changes in palynology would be expected in coals affected by syn-depositional faulting. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Dips, ramps, and rolls- Evidence for paleotopographic and syn-depositional fault control on the Western Kentucky No. 4 coal bed, tradewater formation (Bolsovian) Illinois Basin