NPR-A, located on the Arctic slope of Northern Alaska, is underlain by a thick sequence of sedimentary rocks of Cretaceous age which attain a thickness of as much as 4600 m (15,000 feet). The bulk of the coal resources occurs in rocks of the Nanushuk Group of Early and Late Cretaceous age. The Nanushuk Group is a wedge-shaped unit of marginal marine and nonmarine rocks that is as thick as 3300 m (11,000 feet) just west of NPR-A. Within the reserve, coal occurs primarily in the middle and thicker portions of this clastic wedge and occurs stratigraphically in the upper half of the section. Specific data on individual coal beds or zones are scarce, and estimates of identified coal resources of about 49.5 billion tons represent a sampling of coal resources too small to give a realistic indication of the potential resources for an area so large. Estimates of undiscovered resources suggest hypothetical resources of between 330 billion and 3.3 trillion tons. The wide range in the undiscovered resource estimates reflects the scarcity and ambiguity of the available data but also suggests the presence of a potentially large coal resource.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Preliminary report on the coal resources of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska