Origin of Pennsylvanian underclay and related seat rocks

Geological Society of America Bulletin
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Abstract

Seat rocks, including underclay, underlie coal beds and show features such as roots, profiles similar to water-logged soils, lack of bedding, soil-like fracture, and gradation into normally bedded sedimentary rocks indicating that they were once soils. Coarse-grained seat rocks range from argillaceous to nearly pure quartz sandstone (ganister). Seat rocks composed of clay-sized particles (underclays) range from mixtures of illite, mixed-layer clay, and kaolinite to essentially pure kaolinite. Variations in the quartz or kaolinite content suggest that there are degrees of alteration in the formation of a seat rock and that all kinds of seat rock were formed by leaching of the substratum in a swamp. The increasing crystallinity of the clay minerals from plastic underclays to semiflint clay to flint clay and the corresponding increase in titanium support this conclusion. These two features suggest strongly that flint clays formed in place in an acidic swamp environment. The Olive Hill clay shows residual acidity. Seat rocks are affected by the chemical environments in the swamp before peat accumulation, during peat accumulation, and during coalification. Kaolinite is forming in present-day swamps and in wet acidic soils in Hawaii and probably formed in late Paleozoic swamps. The facts can be interpreted to show that all kinds of seat rocks could have formed in Pennsylvanian swamps and probably most did. 

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Origin of Pennsylvanian underclay and related seat rocks
Series title Geological Society of America Bulletin
DOI 10.1130/0016-7606(1961)72[1643:OOPUAR]2.0.CO;2
Volume 72
Issue 11
Year Published 1961
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Description 18 p.
First page 1643
Last page 1660
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