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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 68 (1984)

Issue: 7. (July)

First Page: 953

Last Page: 953

Title: Alluvial Model for Eocene Wasatch Formation Coal, Powder River Basin, Wyoming: ABSTRACT

Author(s): P. D. Warwick, R. M. Flores, J. C. Ferm


The Eocene Wasatch Formation in the Powder River basin, Wyoming, consists of a conglomerate facies (Kingsbury Conglomerate Member) on the western margin of the basin and a coal-bearing facies near the center of the basin. The conglomeratic facies consists of abundant, basally scoured, pebble to boulder conglomerates and sandstones, and minor rooted siltstones. The conglomerates contain abundant sedimentary and subordinate crystalline rock fragments derived from the adjoining Bighorn uplift. The coal-bearing facies comprises dominant coarse to conglomeratic sandstones and rooted siltstones and claystones. Minor constituents are fossiliferous limestones, carbonaceous shales, and coals. A thick, widespread coal bed (Felix coal) ranges from 10 to 28 ft (3 to 8.5 m) thick with n a 400 mi2 (1,035 km2) area and splits outward from this area into several beds. Where the coal is thick, it is underlain by sandstones and the coal splits are underlain by finer grained deposits.

The conglomeratic facies represents wet alluvial-fan deposits consisting of graded gravel bars, channel sands, and finer overbank detritus. These sediments grade eastward into the coal-bearing facies that represents deposits of meandering streams and their adjoining flood plain and backswamp. The locations of the thickest, most widespread coal body and its splits in this facies are governed by depositional topography controlled by differential compaction of the substrate. Where the substrate is poorly compactible channel sandstones, the swamp surface was relatively high and free of sediment influx. Where the underlying deposits are fine grained and more compactible, the resulting low-lying swamp attracted water-borne sediments that interrupted peat accumulation.

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