Re-Assessment of Rank and Maceral Composition of Queensland Coals: Implications for Hydrocarbon Generation and Other Unexplained Phenomena

Feilding C,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1991
Vitrinite of humic source (often designated as vitrinite A) is the maceral by which the rank of a coal ought to be determined. Therefore its recognition, and the precise identification of other vitrinites is essential. The majority of Australian petrologists are not differentiating between the vitrinite group macerals in maturation studies, the results of which have led to unexplained phenomena in coal characterisations and evaluation, such as 'reactive inertinites' and inaccurate predictions in petroleum source rock studies. The Callide coal has been chosen as a case study, with examples from other coals. The coal seams from the Callide Coal Measures show variation in the predominance of some macerals, indicating successions of environmental changes. The application of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to the study of the Callide coal has enabled a better understanding of the nature and origin of some of the less understood macerals such as micrinite and vitrinite B. Two forms of vitrinite have been observed, each with a distinct reflectance range. The wood-sourced vitrinite A displays an average reflectance of 0.56 per cent, and a range of 05. - 0.7, implying a higher rank than the 0.49 per cent Ro total vitrinite reflectance recorded in previous publications. Vitrinite B is one of the most commonly-occurring macerals in the Callide coal. The lower-reflecting vitrinite B which forms bands, often several hundred microns in thickness, in TEM appears to be electron transparent lipid rich. Vitrinite B is interpreted to represent accumulations of leaves, and is believed to be a major source of hydrocarbons in Australian sedimentary basins. The Callide coal has entered the oil window, and oil has been generated from some exinite, cutinite, and resinite, as evident from the amber to light brown fluorescence of exinite and the presence of exsudatinite in cell cavities and cleats. However vitrinite B, the major potential source of oil, is seen under the microscope to be generating oil, thus placing this coal at the top of the oil window. Micrinite, the origin of which has been much debated, occurs as cell filling or infill of spaces between laminations in vitrinite B.
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