Aspects of rare earth element enrichment in Allegheny Plateau coals, Pennsylvania, USA

James C. Hower, Cortland F. Eble, Panpan Xie, Jingjing Liu, Biao Fu, Madison M. Hood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The Allegheny Plateau in western Pennsylvania, western Maryland, and northern West Virginia has relatively flat-lying strata with southwest-northeast-trending anticlines cored by splay faults originating from the thrust faults and southeast-northwest-trending lineaments. The lineaments define both the structural relief of the anticlines and the coal rank. Coal rank in the Pennsylvanian Allegheny Group coals is medium volatile bituminous in the region of less-prominent structural relief and low volatile bituminous in the region with more pronounced anticlines. Zinc and Cl exhibit high values in coals in the vicinity of the lineaments. Although coal rank was not a parameter in the Principal components analysis, the highest rank coals clustered together in a quadrant defined, in part, by the Zn concentration. Zinc was selected as a parameter due to its possible link with hydrothermal mineralization and Zr and TiO2/Al2O3 were selected based on their presumed association with detrital mineral influences. The highest rare earths + Y values in benches of the Lower Kittanning coal were found at sites close to the lineaments. Negative or negligible Ce anomalies (δCe) and strongly positive Gd anomalies (δGd) suggest marine or hydrothermal influences and negative Eu anomalies (δEu) along with high TiO2/Al2O3 values suggest a terrestrial input. The plots of δCe vs. δGd and δCe vs. δEu show that the low volatile bituminous coals are segregated from the other coals, suggesting that the factors that influenced coal rank also influenced the distribution of the rare earth elements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105150
JournalApplied Geochemistry
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Lanthanides
  • Mineralization
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tectonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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