Petrology of fibrous coal (fusain) and associated inertinites from the Early Paleocene of the central Alberta Plains

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Megascopic, micropetrographic and scanning-electron microscopic investigations of fibrous coal indicate that paleo-wildfires were common occurrences in the mire which produced Highvale coals. At least 20 fibrous coal (fusain) horizons have been identified in corehole samples from the pit no. 3 locality at Highvale, in the central Alberta Plains. Thicknesses of individual horizons vary, and are not particular to any stratigraphic position within coal seams. The majority of these fibrous horizons is within the two thick economic seams, the Highvale Nos. 1 and 2, which are characteristically megascopically dull. The dullness of given lithotypes is largely related to inertinite content with fibrous coal containing 51% inertinite on average, and selected horizons comprised of as much as 85% inertinite. Semifusinite and inertodetrinite are the predominant inertinites, with a few horizons exhibiting highly reflecting fusinite. Macrinite is rare, and micrinite is absent. SEM investigations reveal that certain fibrous coals exhibit excellent preservation of the original gymnospermous (Taxodium) woody tissue. Features such as homogenization and swelling of the cell walls, elimination of the middle lamellae, and preservation of bordered pits are clearly indicative of charcoal formation as a product of paleo-wildfires. Depending upon the nature of the fire, temperatures obtained and the nature of the mire vegetation, a wide range of inertinite precursors can be produced. © 1993.

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International Journal of Coal Geology

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