GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 152-9
Presentation Time: 10:35 AM


GREB, Stephen F., Kentucky Geological Survey, University of Kentucky, 228 MMRB, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0107 and EBLE, Cortland F., Kentucky Geological Survey, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506

The Illinois Basin is one of the primary coal-producing regions in the U.S. The basin has a demonstrated reserve base of 131,259 million short tons, with recoverable reserves at currently producing mines of 2,504 mst. As in other basins, coal production has declined in recent years. Total production in 2016 was 98 mst, which was 13 percent of annual U.S. coal production. Nearly 80 percent of mining is from underground mines. Produced coals are high-volatile C to A bituminous (11,800 Btu) and generally high in sulfur (5 percent). Coal beds occur throughout Pennsylvanian strata, but the majority of production is from the late Middle Pennsylvanian Carbondale and Shelburn Formations (defined differently between states).

Lower Pennsylvanian strata (Morrowan) of the Caseyville and lower Mansfield Formations are mostly restricted to the southern half of the basin and are dominated by thick quartzarenites and few coals, which are thin and local in extent. Early Middle Pennsylvanian strata (Atokan) of the Tradewater, upper Mansfield, Brazil, and Staunton Formations contain more coals, with rock unit extent and lateral consistency increasing up section. Some of these coal have locally low sulfur content.

The Carbondale and Shelburn Formations (Desmoinesian) consist of classic cyclothemic strata arranged in 30–50 ft intervals between coal beds. The units include eight to 11 coal-bound intervals, including the most heavily mined coals in the basin: the Springfield, Herrin, Danville. and Baker. Many Desmoinesian coal beds are overlain by transgressive black shales and regressive-highstand gray shales and siltstones. The Herrin is overlain by black shale, thin limestones, and a local coal in the southern part of the basin. Several lowstand channels are mapped in the intervals between coals, which locally influence coal thickness, quality (including lower sulfur content), and mining conditions. Changes in roof facies, depth, regional faulting, stress fields, and fractures below areas of low cover are important mining factors in different parts of the basin.

Late Pennsylvanian (Virgillian-Stephanian) strata of the Patoka, Bond, and Mattoon Formations are also arranged in cyclothemic patterns, but coals are thin and not of economic importance.