Coal resources of Virginia

Circular 171
Prepared in cooperation with the Virginia Geological Survey
By: , and 



The U. S. Geological Survey and the Virginia Geological Survey have cooperated in preparing this reappraisal of the coal resources of Virginia, which is based on a study of all information" on the reserves of the State available in the publications and files of the two organizations, supplemented by mine and drill-hole information provided by mining companies and private individuals.

Coal is found in Virginia in three widely separated and entirely dissimilar areas: the Southwest Virginia field, or simply the Southwest field, which comprises all or part of Tazewell, Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, Scott, Wise, and Lee Counties; the Valley fields, a series of long, narrow coal-bearing areas in the Valley of Virginia that are concentrated largely in Montgomery, Pulaski, and Wythe Counties; and the Eastern fields, consisting of two relatively small basins near Richmond and Farmville, respectively. Of the total reserves of the State, about 97 percent are in the Southwest Virginia field.

In estimating reserves of the Southwest Virginia field the cooperating agencies were assisted by a series of excellent county reports covering the entire field and by the generous cooperation received from the coal-mining companies. Because of this help, it was possible not only to prepare estimates of reserves in that field by individual coal beds, but to outline most of the important mined-out areas on the bed maps and thus to prepare an estimate that takes into consideration the coal mined and lost in mining prior to January 1, 1951.

The Valley fields, which were mined to some extent prior to 1860 and which have an almost continuous production record since 1883, have been mapped and studied in some detail, but the data on the area are in general inadequate and the structure is too complex to permit a detailed estimate of reserves. Estimates of indicated and inferred reserves in six. of the ten Valley fields were prepared, however, and are presented in subsequent pages. The estimates for the Valley fields are on the basis of original reserves, as mine information is too scanty and production figures too generalized to be of value in translating original reserves into remaining reserves.

The Richmond basin, the easternmost of the Eastern fields, was first mined in 1748, and operations were carried on almost continuously for 150 yr of more after that date. Activity died rapidly as rail transportation made the more easily mined Appalachian coals available, and the Eastern basins have seen little activity since about 1905. Despite the fact that an all-time total of more than 8 million tons has been taken from the Richmond basin, the data now available on the coal beds are considerably less than those on the Valley fields and it was impossible to estimate the reserves with any degree of accuracy. The reserves of the Eastern fields are therefore omitted from the tables, though the fields are discussed in later sections of this report.

Whether presented as remaining reserves (Southwest field) or original reserves (Valley fields) the estimates presented in this report have been calculated on a most conservative basis, and in all probability these estimates will be increased rather than diminished as additional field work is done. Undoubtedly much of the coal reserves shown herein as indicated or inferred reserves will be changed to the measured or indicated category as development work progresses.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Coal resources of Virginia
Series title Circular
Series number 171
DOI 10.3133/cir171
Year Published 1952
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description iv, 57 p.
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