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Professional Paper 1809

Coal Geology and Assessment of Coal Resources and Reserves in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming and Montana

By James A. Luppens, David C. Scott, Jon E. Haacke, Lee M. Osmonson, and Paul E. Pierce

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (80.6 MB)Abstract

This report presents the final results of the first assessment of both coal resources and reserves for all significant coal beds in the entire Powder River Basin, northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana. The basin covers about 19,500 square miles, exclusive of the part of the basin within the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservations in Montana. The Powder River Basin, which contains the largest resources of low-sulfur, low-ash, subbituminous coal in the United States, is the single most important coal basin in the United States. The U.S. Geological Survey used a geology-based assessment methodology to estimate an original coal resource of about 1.16 trillion short tons for 47 coal beds in the Powder River Basin; in-place (remaining) resources are about 1.15 trillion short tons. This is the first time that all beds were mapped individually over the entire basin. A total of 162 billion short tons of recoverable coal resources (coal reserve base) are estimated at a 10:1 stripping ratio or less. An estimated 25 billion short tons of that coal reserve base met the definition of reserves, which are resources that can be economically produced at or below the current sales price at the time of the evaluation. The total underground coal resource in coal beds 10–20 feet thick is estimated at 304 billion short tons.

First posted May 12, 2015

For additional information contact:
Director, Central Energy Resources Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
Box 25046, MS-939
Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225-0046
http://energy.usgs.gov/

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Suggested citation:

Luppens, J.A., Scott, D.C., Haacke, J.E, Osmonson, L.M., and Pierce, P.E., 2015, Coal geology and assessment of coal resources and reserves in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming and Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1809, 218 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/pp1809.

ISSN 1044-9612 (print)

ISSN 2330-7102 (online)



Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Approach and Objectives

Geologic Setting

Previous and Current Coal Mining

Methodology

Surface Coal Resource Assessment

Underground Coal Resource Assessment

Conclusions

Acknowledgments

References Cited

Glossary


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