Abstract: Renewed Exploration of Coal-Bearing Narragansett Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island
S. J. Skehan, J. W., D. P. Murray, T. H. Rider
The 900 sq mi (2,340 sq km) Pennsylvanian age coal basin in Rhode Island and Massachusetts supported intermittent limited mining activity from 1808 to 1959. Renewed interest in coal has resulted in an ongoing exploration program, including core drilling and geologic studies, funded by a variety of public and private sources. The 10,000 to 12,000-ft thick sequence (3,050 to 3,660 m) of fluviatile sedimentary rocks of late Pottsvillian to Conemaughian (Westphalian B to Stephanian A) age corresponds to time-equivalent sequences in the central Appalachians and Great Britain. This sequence lies unconformably on an older Paleozoic and Precambrian basement. The unmetamorphosed clastic sedimentary rocks are folded and faulted on east-northeasterly trends throughout the larger, Ma sachusetts part of the Narragansett basin. However, in southern Rhode Island, they are folded about southerly trending axes and are slightly to moderately metamorphosed.
Coal beds up to 25 ft (8 m) thick have been cored at several widely spaced localities. On the basis of the first 6 drill cores, at least two coalfields, Mansfield and Bristol, unmined previously, have been identified.
"Measured" plus "indicated" reserves at Bristol and Mansfield are 110 million tons (99 million MT) of coal; with "inferred" reserves in Mansfield, the total resource is 233 ± million tons (210 millon MT). Preliminary analysis of coal by the U.S. Bureau of Mines from a southerly field, Portsmouth, Rhode Island, indicates it to be semianthracite in rank.
In addition to evaluating the coal deposits as energy sources, this project also seeks to identify institutional barriers which may arise and hinder the ultimate development of the coal resource. The preliminary response to this project from the residents of the basin has been enthusiastic; this suggests that coal mining could be carried out in this part of New England if undertaken in an acceptable manner.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90968©1977 AAPG-SEPM Annual Convention and Exhibition, Washington, DC