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West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey's Coal Sourcing Program: Helping Consumers Find the Right Coal

Carl J. Smith, Gayle H. McColloch, Jr., Michael E. Hohn, Kenneth C. Ashton

As part of the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey's statewide geological mapping program, extensive work has been conducted to map and characterize the state's 62 minable seams. The latest effort, a coal resources study, has shown that the coals exhibit a wide diversity of quality.

Approximately 6,000 coal samples have been analyzed, and a computer data base of coal-quality information is now maintained. The data base has been used to statistically describe the coals of West Virginia. It has also been used to plot or develop equations to help understand the interrelationships among various parameters of coal quality in West Virginia.

We used the data base to develop a growing series of computer-generated regional coal-quality maps (scale, 1:500,000). Geostatistical analysis of coal-quality data helps us determine whether sufficient geographic control is available for mapping, and improves the usefulness of maps drawn. A map of estimated variance reveals areas of poor control; we can then attempt to sample these areas further.

The data base has been used to search for all samples that meet certain specifications required by potential customers for West Virginia coal. These specifications can either be analytical parameters contained in the data base, or any parameter that can be calculated from the data base. The result is a listing of samples having the desired parameters, with areas and seams that meet the specifications. A target-point map also can be computer generated, showing the locations of samples meeting certain specifications.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91043©1986 AAPG Annual Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, June 15-18, 1986.