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In 1907, the first studies of the state's coal reserves were initiated as part of the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey's statewide geological mapping program. Since then, extensive work has been conducted to map and characterize the state's minable seams. This effort has shown that the coals exhibit a wide diversity of quality, and this diversity provides the coal user a choice of grades to meet specifications for varied applications.
Approximately 6,000 coal samples have been analyzed, and a computer data base of coal-quality information is now maintained and continues to grow. An extensive mapping project makes this information convenient to use.
The objective of coal-quality mapping is to produce a series of contour maps showing the variations in quality for West Virginia coal. Parameters being mapped include sulfur, ash, Btu, fuel ratio, Hardgrove grindability, volatile matter, fixed carbon, and kilocalories per kilogram. This type of information is extremely valuable for someone interested in buying, selling, evaluating, or developing West Virginia coal.
The maps are computer-generated at a scale of 1:500,000 and show the trends of quality in the state's coal measures. From these maps, a "target area" map can be prepared. (A target area is a particular geographic area where coals meeting a user's specifications are likely to be found. Target areas change in size, shape, and location as the coal specifications change.)
These maps are supplemented further by two computer-generated products. One is a "target point" map. (A target point is a specific point-location where coal meeting the required specifications has been sampled.) The other computer product is a list of seams and geographic areas within the state in which coal that meets the desired specifications has been sampled.
These computer techniques provide a statewide overview and quickly show areas in West Virginia that match the right coal to the desired end-use.
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