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ISGS Digital Coal Database:  Herrin Coal Availability and Other Applications



Illinois State Geological Survey, Champaign, IL.


     The Illinois State Geological Survey has been building coal-related databases for more than 60 years.  Stratigraphic data from drill holes, quality data from coal samples, as well as field descriptions of rock outcrops and mine exposures initially compiled on punch-cards have been used to construct and update both paper and digital map files used in, and resulting from, coal-related studies. 

      In the past few years, the traditional idea of a database as a collection of discrete observations or analytical results has widened to include geographic information system map layers, digital image files, and associated metadata.  Recently completed statewide assessments of total coal resources and the availability for mining for several coal seams have been used to update separate database elements and bring them together into a standard coal-related data set which both serves, and is served by, a variety of studies on energy and environmental issues.  Map layers from our recent capstone study, Availability of the Herrin Coal for Mining in Illinois, are now available to the public, industry, and government agencies as published products and as a documented digital dataset.

     The ISGS digital coal database includes key map elements such as thickness, depth, structure, mining extent, quality, and availability for mining of each major coal seam.  These digital map layers are now being used in studies such as: coal bed methane potential, mine-mouth power plant siting, carbon dioxide sequestration potential, and other projects that require fundamental coal seam information on a regional basis.