Moscow Coal Basin

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Moscow Coal Basin


a coal basin that occupies parts of Leningrad, Novgorod, Kalinin, Smolensk, Moscow, Kaluga, Tula, and Riazan’ oblasts. Extraction is concentrated primarily in Tula Oblast. The area of coal-bearing beds (down to 200 m) is about 120,000 sq km, and the width of the arc-shaped zone is 80–100 km. In 1973 geological reserves of coal totaled 11.8 billion tons, including 5.3 billion tons of explored coal. The coal deposits were discovered in 1772, and systematic extraction began in 1855.

The Moscow coal basin is located on the southern and western sides of the Moscow tectonic depression of the Eastern European Platform. The coal-bearing sand-clay stratum, which is up to 50 m thick, belongs to the Iasnaia Poliana suprahorizon of the Lower Carboniferous. It contains as many as 14 seams and interlayers of coal. Usually only one seam with a thickness of 1.5–3.0 m is worked, but sometimes two seams are worked. The coals are brown coals of technological group B2, which are primarily humic (with irregular interlayers of sapropelic matter), high-ash, and high-sulfur. The coal has an average moisture content of 32.5 percent, an ash content of 31 percent, a sulfur content of 3 percent, and a volatile-matter yield of 46 percent per combustible mass. The combustion heat of the combustible mass is 28.2 megajoules per kg (6,750 kilocalories per kg); the combustion heat of working fuel is 11.4 megajoules per kg (2,720 kilocalories per kg). The deposits occur in disconnected sheet and lenticular deposits of complex configuration with areas of 10–120 sq km; the bedding is somewhat wavy and nearly horizontal. The deposits are significantly saturated by water.

About 90 percent of the annual extraction is obtained by underground methods. Since 1957 deposits with thin overburden (up to 40 m) have been worked by the open-pit method, and since 1958 underground coal gasification has been used at the experimental mine of the Podzemgaz trust. In 1913 production was 0.3 million tons; in 1917, 0.7 million; in 1930, 1.7 million; in 1940, 9.8 million; in 1950, 31.2 million; and in 1960, 43.7 million. In the 1960’s and 1970’s annual extraction in the Moscow coal basin has remained at approximately 35 million tons. The coal is used in the central oblasts of the European part of the USSR by large state regional power plants and heat and electric power plants (Kashira, Shchekino, Cherepet’). It is also used by the cement, chemical, and machine-building industries.

The Moscow Coal Basin has other useful minerals besides coal. These include rock salt, gypsum, fireclays, glass sands, pyrite, bauxite, iron ores, phosphorites, gravel, and construction sand.


Geologiia mestorozhdenii uglia i goriuchikh slantsev, vol. 2. Moscow, 1962.
Iablokov, V. S. Istoriia izucheniia kamennougol’nykh otlozhenii i uglei Podmoskovnogo basseina. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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