Bio-geochemical evolution and critical element mineralization in the Cretaceous-Cenozoic coals from the southern Far East Russia and northeastern China

Victor P. Nechaev, Achim Bechtel, Shifeng Dai, Igor Yu Chekryzhov, Boris I. Pavlyutkin, Sergey V. Vysotskiy, Alexander V. Ignatiev, Tatiana A. Velivetskaya, Wenmu Guo, Irina A. Tarasenko, Evgeniya V. Nechaeva, David French, James C. Hower

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22 Scopus citations


A total of 23 coal and two carbonaceous shale samples of the Early Cretaceous-Miocene, collected from different basins in the Primorye and Sakhalin regions of Russia, and the Hunchun basin of northeastern China, were used in this study for determination of major oxides (by AES and XRF), trace elements (by ICP-MS), sulfur, carbon, carbon isotopes, and major components of extractable organic matter (wet-chemical and gas-chromatographic analyses). Interpretation of the obtained data was intended to elucidate geodynamic and other geological processes controlling bio-geochemical compositions and critical element mineralization of the studied coals. The data suggest that inorganic matter in the studied coals was derived mainly from the Paleozoic granites and the Cenozoic felsic and intermediate tuffs. The Early Eocene and, in particular, Oligocene epochs represent the two major mineralization events in the regions, resulting in enrichment of Ge, W, Be, Mo, Sb, Sr, Ba, REY (rare earth elements and Y), Th, and U in the coals. The two events were related respectively to the Indo-Eurasian collision followed by plate reorganization in the Pacific and the opening of the Sea of Japan. The geodynamic changes were probably associated with mantle-derived volcanic activity and intensive degassing, which enhanced the capability of surficial and ground waters to leach and redistribute trace metals. Organic matter played a significant role in the system of mineralization, starting from weathering of source rocks and ending at the coal diagenetic stage. Organic acids significantly accelerated leaching and transportation of the metals, while they, together with sulfate-reducing bacteria, kerogen, alcohols + ketones, and n-alkanols in particular, played an important role in metal precipitation, mainly through reactions of cation exchange and adsorption.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104602
JournalApplied Geochemistry
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was performed by an international research group supported by the Russian Government (Theme 3 of Basic Research of Far East Geological Institute, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences No. 0270-2016-003 ); the Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (Grant No. 18-2-020 ); Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Grant No. 17-05-00051 ); the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 91962220 and U1810202 ); and the 111 Project (No. B17042 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors


  • Cenozoic
  • Coal
  • Critical elements
  • Early cretaceous
  • Geodynamic events
  • Organic matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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