--> ABSTRACT: Twentieth Century Odyssey of Palynology in Oil/Coal Exploration and Development, by Aureal T. Cross; #90906(2001)

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Aureal T. Cross1

(1) Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

ABSTRACT: Twentieth Century Odyssey of Palynology in Oil/Coal Exploration and Development

The main roots of Late Paleozoic palynology and coal petrography in North America date from the opening of the Twentieth Century (Gresley 1901, Sellards 1902, and Thiessen 1913) with analyses of dispersed spores in thin-sections and coal macerations. Palynological analyses began in Europe in earnest with Potonie's and colleagues' studies on central European brown coals in 1928-34. Schopf, Wilson and Bentall (1944), Wilson and students (1940's), and Kosanke (1950) stabilized nomenclature for palynological practice in North America. Palynology in petroleum exploration was first applied in the Americas by Hoffmeister, Wilson, and Tschudy in the 1940's. Major petroleum companies had palynology laboratories in place by the early 1960's. The main international journals and catalogues on palynology appeared in the 1950's. Petrographic analyses on coals of various ranks began in the U.S. Bureau of Mines Central Experiment Station, Pittsburgh with Thiessen's work from 1906-1938 and continued with Sprunk, O'Donnell, Schopf, McCartney, and Parks. Those studies enabled the characterization of coal plant constituents by light microscopy (mainly thin-sections), x-ray, and electron microscopy, making possible prediction of maceral reactivity and quality of commercial products during coking, gasification, steel making, and coal carbon production. Studies of organic-walled cysts and other algal-like microplankton increased exponentially since the 1950's and are now widely applied in oil exploration, particularly migration history, biostratigraphy, and paleoenvironmental interpretation. Palynological analyses, combined with molecular records of oleananes and other biomarkers from dispersed plant detritus, show promise of oil source-rock identification, age, and migration patterns.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90906©2001 AAPG Annual Convention, Denver, Colorado