Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences


Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geology)

First Advisor

Dr. Jim Hower


The Eastern Kentucky Coal Field is located in the central portion of the Appalachian Basin. The Pennsylvanian Breathitt Formation in this region is characterized by numerous sequences of bituminous coal-bearing sedimentary rocks. These coals have distinct maceral compositions due to variations in depositional environments. Coal characterization is an important method for determining conditions that influenced peat accumulation and overall depositional settings of mires.

This study focuses on the characterization of the maceral composition of the Middle Pennsylvanian-age Leatherwood coal bed. It utilizes petrographical, palynological, and geochemical analyses to describe specific depositional environments and associated peat accumulation conditions.

Petrographic analyses indicate that these coals have relatively high liptinite and varying inertinite content, along with trace amounts of mineral matter. Vitrinite, mainly in the form of collotelinite, is the most dominant maceral group. Geochemical data reveal low ash and sulfur content. Ancillary palynological data shows the palynomorph assemblage to be dominated by tree fern and large lycopsid tree spores, with lesser amounts of small lycopsid tree, small fern, and cordaites and calamites spores. The petrographic, geochemical and palynological data indicate that both domed, ombrotrophic, and planar, rheotrophic mire conditions, with limited local detrital influx, contributed to the formation of the Leatherwood coal.

Included in

Geology Commons