Cataclysmic burial of Pennsylvanian Period coal swamps in the Illinois Basin: Hypertidal sedimentation during Gondwanan glacial melt‐water pulses

Allen W. Archer, Scott Elrick, W. John Nelson, William A. DiMichele

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Roof facies of widespread, Pennsylvanian Period, economically important coals in the Eastern Interior Coal Basin (Illinois Basin) commonly exhibit evidence of extensive and cataclysmic tidal sedimentation during rapid marine‐flooding events. Upright Trees and smaller plants were covered and entombed by swiftly deposited, thin‐bedded and laminated mud and sand. This facies has historically been interpreted as fluvial‐style cross bedding. Detailed examination clearly shows that these facies consist of inclined heterolith stratifications (IHS). Entire forests of upright trunks have been documented in the roof strata of surface and underground coal mines. Detailed sedimentological analyses of mine‐roof facies indicate a pervasive and significant tidal influence. In some cases, daily and semi‐monthly tidal periods have been preserved within laminated facies (‘tidal rhythmites’). Based upon modern analogues, the tidal facies are indicative of hypertidal conditions. The hyper‐dynamic tidal regime resulted in rapid sediment accumulation, particularly along pre‐existing drainages within the ancient coastal swamp. Stratigraphic successions indicate a recurring pattern of very rapid change from widespread coal‐swamp conditions to tidally‐influenced deposition. The repetition of these stratigraphic phenomena throughout the Pennsylvanian Period suggests significant external controls on sea‐level, probably related to Gondwanan deglaciations and resultant large‐scale meltwater pulses. Despite the rapid changes of sea‐level rise, the hypertidal depositional dynamics resulted in conditions whereby inundated coastal forests were buried by tidally influenced sedimentation.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationContributions to Modern and Ancient Tidal Sedimentology: Proceedings of the Tidalites 2012 Conference
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Pages217--231
Volume47
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameSpecial Publication of the International Association of Sedimentologists

Keywords

  • ISGS

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