Executive summary: Chapter A.1 in Coal and petroleum resources in the Appalachian basin: distribution, geologic framework, and geochemical character

Professional Paper 1708- A.1
By:  and 
Edited by: Leslie F. Ruppert and Robert T. Ryder



Fossil fuels from the Appalachian basin region have been major contributors to the Nation’s energy needs over much of the last three centuries. Early records indicate that Appalachian coal was first mined in the middle 1700s (Virginia and Pennsylvania) and was used sparingly to fuel colonial settlements and, later, a fledgling industrial-based economy along the eastern seaboard of the United States (de Witt and Milici, 1989). In 2011, central Appalachian basin coal production accounted for approximately 77 percent of all U.S. metallurgical (or coking) coal and 29 percent of total U.S. production (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2013). Following initial discoveries and commercial use in western New York (1821) and Ohio and West Virginia (mid-1830s), the Appalachian petroleum (oil and gas) industry began in earnest in 1859 with the discovery of oil at the Drake well in northwestern Pennsylvania. Between 1860 and 1989, the Appalachian basin produced more than 2.5 billion barrels of oil (BBO) and more than 30 trillion cubic feet of gas (TCFG) from more than 500,000 wells (de Witt and Milici, 1989). Although both oil and gas continue to be produced in the Appalachian basin, most new wells in the region are drilled in shale reservoirs to produce natural gas.

Appalachian coal and petroleum resources are still available in sufficient quantities to contribute significantly to the Nation’s energy needs. For example, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (2010) estimated that there are 6,484 million short tons of recoverable coal reserves in the Appalachian basin. Similarly, about 14.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BBOE) (1.2 BBO+81 TCFG [or 13.5 BBOE]) of recoverable Appalachian basin oil and gas remain available of an estimated ultimate endowment of approximately 25.5 billion BBOE (cumulative production + reserves + estimated recoverable undiscovered resources) (this volume, chap. C.1).

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Professional Paper 1708 is a modern, indepth collection of reports, cross sections, and maps that describe the geology of the Appalachian basin and its fossil fuel resources. Several of the chapters have been published in outside journals or as other USGS publications. Although this volume is not a comprehensive regional treatment of all notable geologic and fossil fuel localities in the Appalachian basin, the selected study areas and topics presented in the chapters cover large segments of the basin and a wide range of stratigraphic intervals. As the title implies, this volume addresses topics that refer to the locations of coal and petroleum accumulations, the stratigraphic and structural framework, and the geochemical characteristics of the coal beds and petroleum in the basin, as well as the results and documentation of recent USGS assessments of coal, oil, and gas resources in the basin.

Many of the maps and accompanying data supporting the reports in this volume are available as downloadable geographic information system (GIS) data files (such as selected coal beds, selected oil and gas fields, locations of oil and gas wells, coal production, coal chemistry, total petroleum system (TPS) boundaries, and bedrock geology). Log ASCII Standard (LAS) files for geophysical (gamma ray) wireline well logs also are included.

This publication supplements and updates older USGS regional studies of Appalachian basin coal and petroleum resources such as those by Arndt and others (1968) and the numerous contributors to USGS Miscellaneous Map Series I−917 (for example, Harris and others, 1978), respectively. USGS Professional Paper 1708 is intended primarily for geoscientists in academia, industry, and government who are interested in Appalachian basin geology and its coal and petroleum resources. Other users, however, may find the wide variety of topics, papers, and digital images of value for landuse and policy planning issues. Among the anticipated benefits of the report are improvements in (1) resource assessment estimates and methodology, (2) exploration strategies, (3) basin models, and (4) energy use policies.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Executive summary: Chapter A.1 in Coal and petroleum resources in the Appalachian basin: distribution, geologic framework, and geochemical character
Series title Professional Paper
Series number 1708
Chapter A.1
DOI 10.3133/pp1708A.1
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Eastern Energy Resources Science Center
Description iii, 4 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Coal and petroleum resources in the Appalachian basin: distribution, geologic framework, and geochemical character (Professional Paper 1708)
Country United States
Other Geospatial Appalachian Basin
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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