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Selenium and tellurium concentrations of Carboniferous British coals

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Abstract

Standard mode and collision/reaction cell mass spectroscopy methods have been utilized in order to overcome spectral interferences and provide ultra-low quantification of selenium (Se) and tellurium (Te) in British Carboniferous coals for the first time. The accurate detection of Se and Te in coals is becoming increasingly important, as coals and pyrite have been identified as potentially significant trace element sources. The mean Se concentration of British coals bear comparison to that of world coals, with anomalous Se content (concentrations above 4 mg/kg) across westerly exposures, often coinciding with high sulphur (S) content and visible pyrite. New Te data for British coals gives a mean concentration of 0.02 mg/kg, with anomalous Te in Ayrshire. There is a positive correlation in the Te/Se ratio across the sample set. The close relationship between Se and Te, as well as Se–Te with both early syngenetic and later cleat-filling pyrite, confirms an important role for sulphides in Se and Te sequestration in British coals. The high Se-Bowland Shale and/or Ordovician volcanics may have provided the trace element source for British coals of similar or younger age. Regional intrusive activity (shallow tabular intrusions or more extensive plutons) and episodes of intense deformation can alter the thermal maturity of coals and may have driven the movement of trace element-rich fluids through strata, locally enriching coals in Se and Te.

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Bullock, L. A., Parnell, J., Feldmann, J., Armstrong, J. G., Henn, A. S., Mesko, M. F., … Flores, E. M. M. (2019). Selenium and tellurium concentrations of Carboniferous British coals. Geological Journal, 54(3), 1401–1412. https://doi.org/10.1002/gj.3238

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