U.S. Geological Survey: Science for a Changing World - USGS visiaul identifier and link to main Web site at http://www.usgs.gov/





Special Acknowledgment

Coal in the United States

Coal Production and Consumption

Coal Prices

Coal Supply

Coal Byproducts

What is Coal?



Minerals in Coal


Coal Rank

Why is Coal So Complex?

The Plants

Biological and Chemical Processes

Swamp Geometry, Location, and Climate

Mineral Matter


Determining the Quality of Coal

Sampling Techniques


Organic Geochemistry

Mineral-Matter Chemistry


Coal Quality and Public Health, by Robert B. Finkelman

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Balkan Endemic Nephropathy

Lung Cancer

Trace Elements


References Cited

Further Reading

General Background

Coal Quality

Coal Resources


Health Effects

Appendix 1. Federal Agencies With Regulatory or Research Responsibilities for Coal and Coal Quality


1. Graph showing trends in U.S. coal production from 1900 to 1999

2. Diagram showing energy consumption and production in the U.S.

3. Photograph of the coal-fired Navajo power plant near Page, Ariz.

4. Map showing coal fields of the U.S.

5.–7. Photographs showing—

5. Uses for coal-combustion byproducts

6. Okefenokee Swamp, Ga.

7. Examples of peat and coal beds

8. Block-diagram models illustrating peat-sediment-climate relations

9. Chart showing the periodic table of the elements

10. Diagram showing hypothetical structure of a lignin-like organic molecule in brown coal (lignite)

11. Photomicrograph of pyrite filling fractures in coal

12. Photograph of a coal ball specimen from the Carbondale Formation, Illinois basin

13. Photograph and photomicrographs of Pennsylvanian bituminous coal

14. Scanning-electron microscope photomicrograph of a fragment of pyrite infilling plant cells in coal

15. Photographs of mineral deposits on boiler walls and pipes

16. Photograph of cross section of calcareous coal ball from Murphysboro coal bed equivalent, Indiana

17. Diagram showing classification of coals by rank in the U.S.

18. Carbon-13 nuclear-magnetic-resonance spectra of coals of increasing rank

19. Chart showing divisions of geologic time

20. Photograph of an in-situ fossilized tree stump in the roof of a coal bed in an underground mine

21. Reconstruction of a tropical peat swamp of Middle Pennsylvanian age

22. Reconstruction of fluvial swamp and peripheral, bottom-land vegetation of Late Cretaceous age

23. Sketches illustrating a possible evolution from a planar peat deposit to a domed peat deposit

24.–28. Photographs showing—

24. Lens-shaped parting in a coal bed in the highwall of a strip mine

25. Face cleat in an exposed coal bed

26. Collection of a channel coal sample from a coal bed in an underground mine

27. Core-drilling rig and a collected core

28. Coal scientist at work identifying coal macerals

Centerfold. Illustration showing coal byproducts in tree form with basic chemicals as branches and derivative substances as twigs and leaves


1. Common minerals found in coal and their elemental compositions

2. Procedures and purposes of ASTM International (ASTM) methods for testing coal

3. Analytical methods and individual techniques used in research on coal quality and their purposes

4. Results of standard ASTM International (ASTM) analyses and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research analyses of a sample (USGS 212277) of Pennsylvanian bituminous coal from the Mary Lee coal bed, Walker County, Ala.

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