Tracking mercury from the mine to the power plant: Geochemistry of the Manchester coal bed, Clay County, Kentucky

Tanaporn Sakulpitakphon, James C. Hower, William H. Schram, Colin R. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


The high volatile A bituminous Manchester coal bed was sampled at five mine sites in central Clay County, southeastern Kentucky. The coal bed has a high mercury concentration at certain sites, particularly in the high-sulfur uppermost lithology. Whole-coal Hg contents range up to 0.52 ppm in a sample with 3.36% pyritic sulfur. Hg is enriched in the upper lithotype at several of the sites. Arsenic content exceeds 700 ppm (ash basis) for all of the whole channel samples and exceeds 1000 ppm for several of the lithotype samples. Regional geochemical trends, from an area of approximately 75×60 km, were determined using data from this study in combination with data published by the U.S. Geological Survey. Hg, As, Pb, and Cl contents exhibit highs in the northwestern portion of the region. Within the smaller area covered by the detailed mine study, the two western sites both have a high-sulfur upper lithotype containing high levels of As and Hg. Basement structures, previously described in the study area, could have influenced the regional coal rank and geochemistry, possibly acting as conduits for mineralizing fluids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-141
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 20 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Sakulpitakphon was supported by a grant from CONSOL Energy, with additional support provided by the CAER. Personnel at East Kentucky Power Cooperative's Cooper Station and central laboratory assisted in the sampling of coal and fly ash at the power plant. East Kentucky Power Cooperative's central laboratory allowed us to use analytical equipment in their facility. Ray Philpot, owner of the mine property, cooperated in sampling of coal at the mine site. We thank reviewers Hal Gluskoter and Allan Kolker, both at the U.S. Geological Survey, for their constructive comments.


  • Chemistry
  • Coal
  • Kentucky
  • Mercury
  • Mineralogy
  • Petrology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Geology
  • Economic Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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