Inertinite-rich tertiary coals from the Zeya-Bureya Basin, Far Eastern Russia

Crosdale, Peter J., Sorokin, Anatoly P., Woolfe, Ken J., and MacDonald, David I.M. (2002) Inertinite-rich tertiary coals from the Zeya-Bureya Basin, Far Eastern Russia. International Journal of Coal Geology, 51 (4). pp. 215-235.

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Selected Tertiary coals from the Zeya–Buryea Basin, Far Eastern Russia, were investigated for aspects of their coal type, rank, depositional environment and post-depositional history. The coals have been examined in outcrop (lithotype logging), microscopically (maceral, reflectance and fluorescence), and geochemically (proximate analysis).

Two laterally extensive coal-bearing horizons occur: one of Palaeocene age and the other of early Miocene age. The Palaeocene coals were investigated in active open-cut mines at Raichikhinsk and Yerkovtsi and the early Miocene deposit in an abandoned open-cut mine at Cergeyevka.

Palaeocene coals at Raichikhinsk and Yerkovtsi were indistinguishable from each other macroscopically, microscopically, and geochemically. The deposits were sufficiently coalified that brightness logging could be undertaken. Dull coals, with numerous fusainous wisps, were dominant. Four dulling-up sequences, which represent stacked peat deposits, were observed at Raichikhinsk. At Yerkovtsi, only a small section of the middle of the seam, which was mostly dull and muddy coal, was investigated. Petrographically, these coals were dominated by inertinite group macerals, which is unusual in non-Gondwanan coals and rare in the Tertiary. Rank classification was problematic with volatile matter (VM) content of vitrain (daf), macroscopic appearance, and microscopic textures suggesting subbituminous B rank, but carbon content, moisture content and specific energy indicating a lignite rank.

Notwithstanding complications of rank, estimates of the maximum-range burial depths were calculated. Taking the VM (daf) content of vitrain as 48%, burial depth estimates range from 900 m for a high geothermal gradient and long heating time to a maximum of 3300 m for a low geothermal gradient and short heating time. These estimates are maxima as the coal rank may be lower than implied by the VM.

The Cergeyevka deposit is a soft brown coal. Limited sampling of the upper-most portion indicated a high moisture content (75% daf) and an unusual, hydrogen-rich geochemistry. Lack of identifiable liptinites using either reflected light or fluorescence microscopy suggested a significant bituminite component. Otherwise, the coals appear to be typical for the Tertiary. An estimate of 125 m maximum burial depth was obtained using the bed-moisture content of the coal, which is around the present burial depth.

Comparison of present-day thicknesses with inferred burial depths suggests that at least 500 m of section is missing between the Palaeocene coals and the early Miocene coals.

Palaeoenvironmental considerations suggest that fire played a significant role in the accumulation of the peats at Raichikhinsk and Yerkovtsi. At Cergeyevka, peat accumulation ended by drowning of the mire.

Two tuff beds were recognised within the seam at Raichikhinsk and one in the seam at Yerkovtsi. Correlation of the tuff beds is uncertain but they should prove useful in regional coal seam correlation and interpreting coal depositional environments. Geochemical analysis by XRF was complicated by high loss-on-ignition (LOI) values. Despite extensive alteration, an acid igneous source is implied from the presence of free quartz and TiO2/Al2O3 ratios of 0.02 to 0.05.

Item ID: 13541
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-7840
Keywords: depositional environment; inertinite; rank; Russia; tertiary coal
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2010 03:34
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040310 Sedimentology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 85 ENERGY > 8501 Energy Exploration > 850101 Coal Exploration @ 100%
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