Distribution of rare earth and other critical elements in lignites from the Eocene Jackson Group, Texas

James C. Hower, Peter D. Warwick, Bridget R. Scanlon, Robert C. Reedy, Tristan M. Childress

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Coal is increasingly evaluated as a source of rare earth elements (REEs) in the United States to address the overreliance on imported REEs. The objective of this study was to assess the distribution of REEs in lignites from selected mining areas in the Texas Gulf Coastal Plain region. Thirty-one archived lignite and rock samples previously collected by the U.S. Geological Survey were analyzed for their rare earth element and critical mineral content. These include samples from one core (5400 and 5500 lignite horizons) and two opencast lignite mines (Gibbons Creek 3500 and 4500 horizons, and San Miguel horizons A to D) in the Eocene Jackson Group of the Texas Gulf of Mexico Coastal Plain. Some lithologies in the Gibbons Creek 3500 and 4500 lignite-bearing sections have high total rare earth, yttrium (Y), and scandium (Sc) (REYSc) values, up to 7800 ppm (ash basis) REYSc. The lignite lithologies show an enrichment in rare earths, [samarium (Sm) through gadolinium (Gd)]. The basal Gibbons Creek 3500 lignite bench shows a heavy rare earth element enrichment pattern resembling that often seen in peats through high volatile A bituminous coals. The 5500 lignite sequence, overlying the latter lignite sections, shows a light rare earth enrichment. The San Miguel lignite benches have heavy rare earth enrichments with a negative europium (Eu) anomaly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104302
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
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  • Critical minerals
  • Jackson Group
  • Lignite
  • Rare earth elements
  • Texas Gulf of Mexico Coastal Plain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Geology
  • Economic Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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