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Petrology and geochemistry of the high-sulphur coals from the Upper Permian carbonate coal measures in the Heshan Coalfield, southern China

Shao, Longyi, Jones, Timothy Peter, Gayer, Rod, Dai, Shifeng, Li, Shengsheng, Jiang, Yaofa and Zhang, Pengfei 2003. Petrology and geochemistry of the high-sulphur coals from the Upper Permian carbonate coal measures in the Heshan Coalfield, southern China. International Journal of Coal Geology 1040 , pp. 1-26. 10.1016/S0166-5162(03)00031-4

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The Heshan coals, with very high organic sulphur content, are found in the Upper Permian marine carbonate successions Heshan Formation) in the Heshan Coalfield, central Guangxi, southern China. The petrography, mineralogy, and geochemistry of coals and non-coal partings from the Suhe and Lilan coal mines of the Heshan Coalfield have been investigated using proximate, petrographic, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and scanning electron microscopy with an energy-dispersive X-ray (SEM-EDX) techniques. The sulphur content in the coals (with ash less than 50%) ranges from 5.3% to 11.6%, of which more than 90% is organic sulphur, reflecting a strong marine water influence on the palaeomire. The high vitrinite reflectance (1.89–2.18%Romax) indicates that the coals in the Heshan Coalfield are mainly low-volatile bituminous coal. Microscopic observation has revealed that the coal is mainly composed of vitrinite and inertinite macerals with relatively low TPI and high GI values, suggesting an unusual, strongly alkaline palaeomire, with high pH. XRD analysis plus optical and scanning electron microscopy show that the minerals in these coals are mainly quartz, calcite, dolomite, kaolinite, illite, and pyrite, although marcasite, strengite, and feldspar, as well as some oxidised weathering products such as gypsum, are also present. Most trace elements in the Heshan coals are enriched with respect to their world mean, with Mo, U, and W highly enriched, more than 10 times their world means. The trace elements are believed to be associated either with organic compounds (Mo and U) or minerals such as aluminium–iron-silicates (Sc, Ge, and Bi), aluminium-silicates (Cs, Be, Th, Pb, Ga, and REE), iron-phosphates (Zn, Rb, and Zr), iron-sulphides (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Tl, and V), and carbonates (Sr, Mn, and W). Abnormally high organic sulphur content, high ash yields, relatively high GI values, very low TPI values, very high U contents, and very low Th/U ratios suggest that the Heshan coals accumulated in low-lying, marine-influenced palaeomires, developed on carbonate platforms. Many of these characteristics have also been recorded in the Tertiary coals of the circum-Mediterranean coal basins, where no marine influence is present. The similarities are thought to be produced by strongly alkaline groundwater chemistry, common to both environments.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QE Geology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Coal; Heshan Formation; Depositional environment; Sulphur; Trace element
ISSN: 0166-5162
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 02:09

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