Appalachian Basin Coals, aka Appalachian Province/Eastern Province

Types of Coal:
  • Medium and High Volatile bituminous. (87%)
    • High: "High-volatile bituminous coal is classified on the basis of its calorific value on a moist, ash-free basis"
    • Medium: "classified on the basis of the percentage of fixed carbon present on a dry, ash-free basis"
  • Low Volatile bituminous. (10%)
    • Low: "classified on the basis of the percentage of fixed carbon present on a dry, ash-free basis"
  • Anthracite, semi-anthracite, and meta-anthracite (3%)

"Bituminous coal is dark brown to black in color and commonly banded or layered. Because of its relatively high heat value and low (less than 3 percent) moisture content, its ease of transportation and storage, and its abundance, bituminous coal has the broadest range of commercial uses among the coals."
(click on image to view full size - new window)
(click on image to view full size - new window)


  • As of October 1999, 40% of coal from the US is still obtained from the Appalachian coals (states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and eastern Kentucky).
  • Most coal from the area is Medium and High Volatile Bituminous coal.
  • According to U.S. Geological Survey in an article from October 1999, "the last detailed maps of the coal beds were made nearly 90 years ago", meaning that any information regarding a current status of this coal is scarce.

- The map being used in the PowerPoint shows the name of the coal regions:
  • Eastern Province (Includes the Appalachian basin area)
  • Gulf Province (the yellow area that spans from Texas up to Kentucky and over to parts of FL and GA)
  • Interior Province (Michigan, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas)

- All of these coal areas have formed in either basins or plains and are located near mountain ranges. Most are right next to mountains, but some coal areas, such as in the Appalachians, were pushed upwards as the mountains formed later.

- Appalachian/Eastern Province coal is from the Pennsylvanian age. Going from west to east the coal begins as high volatile bituminous coal then gradually moves to a low volatile bituminous anthracite coal. Its sulfur content also begins high and decreases further east.
(National Resource Council, 1981)

- short bits of information on all of the coal regions in the US

Appalachian Cyclothems ---
Cyclothems are packages of strata characteristic of the Pennsylvanian and Permian Periods. An individual cyclothem typically contains a sequence of rock layers that indicate a progressive change in depositional environments from coal swamp, to marine, to non-marine, and back to coal swamp. Cyclothems appear to be generated by changing sea level, although the mechanism of sea level change continues to be controversial. Relative sea level change is controlled by the interaction of tectonic subsidence, sedimentation, and eustacy (changes in global sea level). Cyclothems developed in the Appalachian Basin in the eastern United States have traditionally been seen as controlled primarily by the interaction of tectonic subsidence and sedimentary deposition. This is because the Appalachian Basin formed due to subsidence of a foreland basin adjacent to the Alleghenian Orogen, which was then filled with sediments shed from the erosion of the rising mountains. However, my studies of the Magoffin Member, a cyclothem developed during a particularly large sea level rise, suggest that eustacy was, nevertheless, an important factor in the deposition of Appalachian Basin cyclothems.

Restored cross section showing relations of cyclothems in Midcontinent, Illinois, and Appalachian regions.
Restored cross section showing relations of cyclothems in Midcontinent, Illinois, and Appalachian regions.


Bönisch, Nicole, 2007, Coal Deposits of the United States of America, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany.

National Resource Council, 1981, Coal Mining and Ground Water Resources in the United States, Washington D.C., National Academy Press

Project 1 - Past Life


Evolution and it's relation to past life in the form of a flow chart:

-> Beginning of life and single-celled organisms -> to the progression of organisms to multi-celled organisms.
- -> Organisms become complex and life branches into species over hundreds of millions of years.
- - -> Individual lives are born and eventually die /// species evolve and go extinct.
- - - -> The remnants of life becomes embedded in the earths crust and is sometimes preserved.
- - - - -> Abundant preserved remnants survive hundreds of millions of years and are carbon dated. Results of carbon
dating and other examinations give clues to the type of past life. With research, it can be determined if this species is still in existence. Frequently remnants are of species that have gone extinct. This is where evolution and extinction play a part in the problem of past life:
  • Once we come to the understanding/conclusion that there are remains of a species that do not exist anymore, ie. are extinct, we have our key example of "past life" in the sense that this species is a life form from the past.

--> It is important to distinguish between two concepts of past life <--
1. Past Life: a single being of life has died.
2. Past Life: previous forms of life that are extinct / no longer exist.

  • The extinction of species form of "past life" is demonstrated through theories of evolution.
  • Evolution of species is affected by environment and changes in environment / habitat changes, gene mutations, etc.
    • Some changes can cause extinctions of species, which results in a later discovery. This discovery of an extinct species is an example of past life.

Theories of Evolution
The theory of evolution revolves around the idea that all living things today are in some way related and have descended from past organisms through modifications in past species.

  • The Mechanisms of Evolution:
    1. Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics, by Jean-Baptiste Lamark (1809) - The theory that the development of new traits in species is based on their needs. These traits were believed to have been acquired during an organisms lifetime and that these traits were inheritable, so their offspring would continue to carry on this developed trait.
    2. Natural Selection, Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace (1859) - This theory depends upon a factor known as gradualism, which is "the idea that speciation occurs by the gradual accumulation of new traits." (Wicander and Monrow, p. 117).
    3. Genetics, Alfred Mendel (1860) - This discovery accompanies Darwin and Wallaces theory of evolution in that genetics is a key factor involved in the creation and continuation of traits. Mendel discovered that traits are controlled by genes, which is the factor that chooses whether or not to develop a trait which the organism carries.

Neo-Darwinism is a modern synthesis of evolution. It is a combination of ideas from various scientists which has brought forth this new theory of evolution. While this new theory includes the chromosome theory of inheritance, mutations as a source of variation, and gradualism, it also rejecting the theory of inheritance as required characteristics.

Reference/Source: Wicander, R., Monroe, J. S., 2004, Historical Geology: Belmont, Thomson Learning, Inc., p. 150-130.