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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 65 (1981)

Issue: 5. (May)

First Page: 936

Last Page: 936

Title: Weathering-Induced Chemical Changes in Surface Coals from Paleocene Fort Union Formation, Red Rim Area, Sweetwater and Carbon Counties, Wyoming: ABSTRACT

Author(s): Joseph R. Hatch, Ronald H. Affolter

Article Type: Meeting abstract


Statistically significant differences in chemical composition between 20 outcrop and 22 stratigraphically equivalent core coal samples were demonstrated by proximate and ultimate analyses, heat-of-combustion and forms-of-sulfur determinations, and chemical analyses for 37 elements. The outcrop samples were collected from depths of 30 to 72 in. (75 to 180 cm) on very steep (> 45°) slopes. Core samples were from depths of 31 to 190 ft (9 to 58 m) at distances between 300 and 1,500 ft (91 and 457 m) from the outcrop. Mean annual precipitation in the Red Rim area is ~ 11 in. (28 cm); mean monthly temperatures range from 22°F (-5.5°C) in January to 68°F (20°C) in July. Apparent rank of unweathered coal is subbituminous C coal. Compared with the core samples (moisture and Btu/lb, as-received basis, all others moisture-free basis) the outcrop samples have significantly higher mean moisture (37.4 vs 23.8%), volatile matter (43.8 vs 35.1%), oxygen (24.9 vs 15.6%), and nitrogen (1.0 vs 0.8%); lower ash (13.3 vs 18.2%), hydrogen (3.0 vs 4.7%), sulfur (0.6 vs 1.1%) and heat of combustion (5,330 vs 7,690 Btu/lb); similar fixed carbon (42.5 vs 46.6%) and carbon contents (56.7 vs 60.3%). The sulfate part of the total sulfur increased from 5% in core to 18% in outcrop samples; pyritic sulfur decreased from 14 to 10%, and organic sulfur decreased from 84 to 71%. As indicated by differences in element/Al ratios between core and outcrop samples, the relative rates of removal of Si, K, B, Cr, Ga, La, Li, and V from coal during weathering are signi icantly greater than Al; Cd, Co, F, Ni, Se, and Zn are significantly greater than Al; Cd, Co, F, Ni, Se, and Zn are significantly less than Al; and Ca, Mg, Na, Fe, Ti, As, Ba, Be, Cu, Mg, Mn, Mo, Nb, Pb, Sb, Se, Sr, Th, U, Y, Yb, and Zr are similar to Al. Additional significant chemical changes in outcrop samples should be expected in areas of warmer, more humid climates, where coal is of lower rank, or in samples collected on less-steep slopes or at shallower depths.

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