Coal fires; opportunity for innovative research in mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, and environmental science

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Authors:Stracher, Glenn B.; Sokol, Ellina V.; Prakash, Anupma; Hower, James C.; Kuenzer, Claudia; Pone, J. Denis N.; Schroeder, Paul A.; Masalehdani, M. Naze-Nancy; Mardon, Sarah M.; Hiett, John
Author Affiliations:Primary:
East Georgia College, Division of Science and Mathematics, Swainsboro, GA, United States
Other:
Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch, Russian Federation
University of Alaska-Fairbanks, United States
University of Kentucky, United States
Vienna University of Technology, Austria
Pennsylvania State University, United States
University of Georgia, United States
Université des Sciences et Technologie de Lille I, France
Volume Title:Geological Society of America, 2007 annual meeting
Source:Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, 39(6), p.30; Geological Society of America, 2007 annual meeting, Denver, CO, Oct. 28-31, 2007. Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States. ISSN: 0016-7592
Publication Date:2007
Note:In English
Summary:Coal beds and culm banks are on fire from the Jharia Coalfield in India to the Wuda and Rujigou Coalfields in China, the Kuznetsk coal basin in Siberia, the Witbank and Sasolburg Coalfields in South Africa, and the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains in the United States. The surficial manifestation of these fires includes mineral assemblages and coal tar that encrust gas vents and fissures, combustion metamorphic rocks, paralavas, toxic-gas components, and subsidence structures over volume-reduced coal. Mineral assemblages and coal-tar deposits that encrust gas vents form by complex thermochemical processes including gas-altered substrate (GAS), gas-liquid-altered substrate (GLAS), and reactions among select gas components (SGC). The minerals may include millosevichite, salammoniac, gypsum, alunogen, pickeringite, tschermigite, godovikovite, and mascagnite, to name a few. Their nucleation is controlled by the chemistry of gas exhaled from a vent or fissure, the mineralogy of the substrate encountered by the exhaled gas, and the stratigraphic association of the vents and fissures with geologic structures including faults and folds. Toxic-gas components including methane, carbon monoxide, benzene, and toluene that are exhaled from coal-fire gas vents and ground fissures pollute the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere while destroying floral and faunal habitats. The resonance time of such pollutants, e.g., in soil gas, is unknown as are the long-term effects associated with them. In spite of their global occurrence both in the geologic past and at present, the study of underground- and surface-coal fires, "coal-fires science," has not been at the forefront of geologic research. In fact, geoscience textbooks and courses devote little if any attention to the study of these fires. Consequently, coal-fires offer challenging opportunities for collaborative and innovative research in both environmental science and classical geology, with special emphasis in mineralogy, petrology, and structural geology. Illustrations of rare mineral assemblages, explosion breccias, paralavas, gas vents juxtaposed along faults, differential weathering, and subsidence structures in addition to gas vent and soil-gas analyses all reveal the enormous potential for interdisciplinary-research awaiting the geoscientist.
Subjects:Air pollution; Breccia; Coal; Coal fields; Coal tar; Controls; Faults; Fires; Fissures; Folds; Geologic hazards; Habitat; Land subsidence; Mineral assemblages; Mineral composition; Nucleation; Pollution; Processes; Sedimentary rocks; Substrates; Toxic materials; Vents; Water pollution; Africa; Appalachians; Asia; China; Far East; India; Indian Peninsula; Jharia coal field; Jharkhand India; North America; Rocky Mountains; Siberia; South Africa; Southern Africa; United States; Kuznetsk coal basin; Rujigou coal field; Sasolburg coal field; Witbank coal field; Wuda coal field
Coordinates:N233700 N234900 E0863000 E0860500
Record ID:2008107510
Copyright Information:GeoRef, Copyright 2018 American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
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