GUIDELINES FOR SAMPLE COLLECTING AND ANALYTICAL METHODS USED IN THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY FOR DETERMINING CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF COAL
By Vernon E. Swanson and Claude Huffman, Jr.
U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY CIRCULAR
After the samples have been collected and are ready to be shipped, a simple list of sample-description information should be prepared. The samples should be listed by number, each sample number followed by the name and thickness of the coal bed (or thickness of unit sampled, related to top of bed), the name and age of the formation and member which include the coal bed, the precise location of the sampled locality (preferably by latitude and longitude to the nearest second, or by quarter section, township and range), the name of mine and company owner, the date the sample was collected, and the name of the collector. (Use of the metric system for units of measurement is encouraged.) For example:
Sample No. Sample description
HC-21-72 .... Channel sample of Waynesburg coal bed, 1.24 m thick, lower member of Waynesburg Formation, Upper Pennsylvanian; 40° 13¢ 20² , 80° 11¢ 10² (1.6 km ENE. of McGovern), Washington County, Pa.; Zonk mine, Southwest Consolidated Co.; coll. by John Smith, Oct. 16, 1976.
Any additional information considered useful concerning the unit sampled can be included in the sample description; for example, the distribution and thickness of visible pyrite or partings, the degree of weathering, or even a sketch showing relations of stratigraphic units and lithologies.
A copy of the list of sample descriptions should be enclosed with the samples and, to assure this information arrives, another copy should also be sent by mail in another envelope.
Samples to be shipped should be sent by the commercial carrier most conveniently available to the geologist. In most places, packing the samples in small cartons and sending by mail is the easiest procedure. Because the coal and, especially, rock samples can cut through the plastic bag while jostled during mail handling, care should be taken to cushion the sample bags in the cartons with wadded newspapers or other packing material.
We recognize that the sampling procedures outlined above do not adhere to the details of the much more extensive and time-consuming procedures proposed and used by others (for example Burrows, 1907; Holmes, 1911; Fieldner and Selvig, 1938; Schopf, 1960). Rather, the individual geologist must use good judgment in selecting representative and quality samples. So many variable factors are involved--such as time available to collect a large number of samples, natural coal-bed alteration, time of sample exposure during laboratory preparation, and continued improvement of analytical techniques--that rather loose, general guidelines seem the most appropriate to encourage the collection of many samples of the different kinds of coal from the different areas of the United States.
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