Appalachian Coal Basin

Appalachian Coal Basin

 

one of the world’s major coal-bearing regions, located in the eastern USA, along the length of Appalachia (in the states of Ohio, the western part of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, the eastern part of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama).

The area of this basin is approximately 187,600 sq km. The total coal reserves are 417.5 billion tons. The Appalachian coal basin is an advanced downwarp, which was filled by a heavy Paleozoic stratum of interbedded sandstones, shales, limestones, and coals, covered in the southern part of the basin by Mesozoic and Cenozoic deposits. These deposit layers form a huge, asymmetrical synclinal structure, extending from the southwest to the northeast, with an almost horizontal rock stratification. The productive strata belong to the Carboniferous layers. A characteristic trait of this basin is the small depth of the layers of the coal seams (no more than 640 m). There are from 28 to 30 operational seams (with an average vein width of from 1 to 3 m); more than 90 percent of the mining is from seams with a vein width of from 1 to 2 m, including the northern section (where open-pit strip-mining techniques are used). The types of coal are subbituminous, bituminous, and anthracite; they are characterized by a low content of ash, sulfur, and phosphorus. The heat of combustion of a fuel-mass ranges from 30.1 to 33.5 megajoules per kg (7,200–8,000 kilocalories per kg). A considerable percentage of such types of coal is suitable for making coke to be used in metallurgy. The relatively shallow depth of the deposits, the optimal vein widths of the seams with regard to technology, and the proximity of the Appalachian coal basin to the centers of metallurgical industry have facilitated the widespread exploitation of this basin.

In connection with the cyclical nature of the economic growth of the USA, coal mining in the Appalachian coal basin has been subject to considerable variations (during the years 1946–50 an average of 366.2 million tons per year were mined; in 1966 about 278 million tons were mined). Most of the mining operations are controlled by large coal, metallurgical, and power companies.

REFERENCES

Sudoplatov, A. P. Ugol’naia promyshlennost’ SShA. Moscow, 1955.
Coal,2nd ed. Edited by E. S. Moore. New York-London, 1940.

A. K. MATVEEV and M. E. POLOVITSKAIA

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