Was coal metamorphism an influence on the minor element chemistry of the Middle Pennsylvanian Springfield (No. 9) coal in Western Kentucky?

James C. Hower, John G. Groppo, Cortland F. Eble, Shelley D. Hopps, Tonya D. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Coal rank in the Middle Pennsylvanian Carbondale Formation Springfield coal in the Western Kentucky coalfield, part of the Illinois Basin, ranges from high volatile A bituminous in southern Union and Webster counties to high volatile C bituminous in the rest of the region. The chlorine content closely follows the coal rank, being highest in the high volatile A bituminous coals. High concentrations of V and Cr are evident in the top benches at all sites and is particularly strong in the higher rank sites. Zinc and other elements (Ni, Mo, among others) are enriched in some benches, but the trend is not as consistent as with V and Cr. Zirconium (+ Nb) and TiO2, both serving as proxies for a detrital influx, show differentiation among the quadrangles, with the high volatile C bituminous Spottsville quadrangle coals having the highest Zr + Nb content. The correlation between Y and Zr indicates that the highest Y occurs in the Spottsville samples. The Spottsville samples have highest REE. Principal components analysis using both a rank parameter (vitrinite maximum reflectance) and the set of geochemical parameters showed that the coal rank axis (Rmax) (with the highest rank being in the Providence quadrangle) is orthogonal to the overlapping LREE/HREE and GdN/GdN* axes and is opposite to the REE, Zr + Nb, and Zn axes. Hydrothermal metamorphism certainly influenced coal rank, the chlorine content of the coals, and, perhaps, some aspects of the minor element chemistry. Coal metamorphism, however, was not the sole influence and not even the dominant influence on the concentration of REE in the Springfield coal in western Kentucky since other factors, such as the greater concentrations of detrital minerals in the Spottsville quadrangle samples, seem to have had a greater influence on the REE chemistry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104295
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

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  • Chromium
  • Detrital minerals
  • Hydrothermal metamorphism
  • Rare earth elements
  • Vanadium
  • Yttrium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Geology
  • Economic Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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