Radiometric dating of marine-influenced coal using Re-Os geochronology

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Coal deposits are integral to understanding the structural evolution and thermal history of sedimentary basins and correlating contemporeous estuarine and fluvial delatic strata with marine sections. While marine shales may readily lend themselves to Re-Os dating due to the dominance of hydrogenous Re and Os, the lack of a chronometer for near-shore sedimentary environments hampers basinwide correlations in absolute time. Here, we employ the Re-Os geochronometer, along with total organic carbon (TOC) and Rock-Eval data, to determine the timing and conditions of a marine incursion at the top of the Matewan coal bed, Kanawha Formation, Pottsville Group, West Virginia, USA. The observed range for hydrogen index (HI: 267-290 mg hydrocarbon/gram total organic carbon) for these coal samples suggests dominance of aliphatic hydrocarbons with low carbon ( <2000). Mass balance calculations based on Re/TOC and Os/TOC ratios for the Matewan coal indicate that both Re and Os are primarily marine in origin, and their high 187Re/188Os ratios confirm efficient removal of both elements from a sulfidic water column into the coal. We show that Re-Os geochronology of marine-influenced coal can be a viable tool for constraining depositional ages.




Tripathy, G. R., Hannah, J. L., Stein, H. J., Geboy, N. J., & Ruppert, L. F. (2015). Radiometric dating of marine-influenced coal using Re-Os geochronology. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 432, 13–23.

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