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The Springfield Coal Member is a time transgressive coal that formed during the Pennsylvanian on a delta platform within the slowly subsiding Illinois basin. In Gibson County, Indiana, the locations of the major Galatia channel and the minor Leslie Cemetery channel were determined by differential compaction of precursor sediments beneath this platform.
The Springfield coal is thick proximal to both channels, but proximal to the Galatia channel it is either a low-sulfur or a high-sulfur coal. It is a low-sulfur coal where it is underlain by a thin to moderately thick platform of shale with some sandstone and overlain by nonmarine shale. It is a high-sulfur coal where it is underlain by a thick platform of fluvial sandstone and overlain by brackish to marine rocks. Distal to both channels the coal is thin and high in sulfur. At distal locations the Springfield is underlain by a platform of either thick bay-fill sandstone or fluvial sandstone and overlain by brackish to marine shale and limestone.
Compaction of pre-Springfield delta sediments allowed for accumulation of thicker peat along the axis of more rapid local subsidence. Compaction of muddy parts of the delta platform proximal to the Galatia channel resulted in rapid subsidence and the deposition of nonmarine shale over the peat. In the areas underlain by bay-fill and fluvial sandstone where compaction was less, the peat became a relatively thin and high-sulfur coal.
Differences in coal thickness and quality in this 500 mi2 (1,300 km2) area of Gibson County can be explained largely by differential compaction and deltaic sedimentation.
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