The Galatia channel in southern Illinois and Indiana is intimately associated with thick, low-sulfur Springfield Coal. Previous geologists envisioned a meandering river with crevasse splays that disgorged gray mud on top of the peat, like the modern "bird's foot" Mississippi delta. New information, including closely-spaced core drilling and mine entries driven across the channel, directs us to a new model of channel origin. This model conforms with the sediment climate model developed by Blaine Cecil and colleagues. During eustatic lowstand prior to Springfield peat, the region underwent subaerial exposure, soil formation (underclay), and valley incision under a seasonal wet-dry climate. Rivers carried dominantly sand and meandered actively, as Paul Potter mapped during the early 1960s. Eventually basin subsidence and change from seasonal to ever-wet climate initiated development of Springfield peat. Dense vegetation now locked meanders in place while greatly reducing runoff. The Galatia channel became a black-water stream that carried only suspended clay and organic sediment. Peat and clay were thinly interlaminated along channel margins. Finally, eustatic sea-level rise, brought about by glacial melting, drowned the peat mire. A simultaneous return to seasonal climate suppressed upland vegetation and liberated sediment transport. The Galatia channel now became an estuary with much greater flow and sediment volume. Thick gray clay, silt and fine sand (Dykersburg Shale) rapidly buried the Springfield peat, compressing it and making space for more sediment. As previous geologists understood, Springfield Coal covered by thick Dykersburg Shale has low sulfur content because it was shielded from later sulfide-bearing marine water and sediment.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America|
|Place of Publication||Boulder, CO|
|Publisher||Geological Society of America|
|State||Published - 2008|