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More than 70 percent of Kentucky's annual coal production is from the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field. Although generally lower in sulfur content and ash yield than coal from western Kentucky, coal from eastern Kentucky is highly variable in thickness and quality.
Many eastern Kentucky coals are composed of distinct benches of coal separated from each other by thin but widespread partings. Often these benches have different quality and thickness characteristics. By correlating individual benches of coal, a seam can be analyzed as the sum of its parts. This is called analysis of bench architecture. Understanding the juxtaposition or architecture of the benches can improve interpretation and projection of thickness and quality trends. Because much more thickness data than quality data are generally available, methods for projecting quality based on thickness can greatly improve the accuracy of resource estimates. Regional analysis of the Fire Clay and Pond Creek coals indicates that a substantial amount of regional thickness and quality variation can be explained through analysis of bench architecture. This research will assist coal companies in identifying high-quality coal and improve the economics of coal recovery.
Coal seams mined in eastern Kentucky often represent different combinations of coal benches and beds in different areas.
For more information:
Fire Clay coal
Lower Elkhorn (Pond Creek) coal
Quartzose Sandstones (Old Lee Formation)
Sedimentation and Stratigraphy
Structural influences on coal
Ancient meteorite impact