IGNIS
Upper Block Coal Member

Age:

Pennsylvanian

Type designation:

Type locality: The name “Upper Block Coal” was first used formally by Ashley (1909, p. 57-58), who earlier (1899, p. 90, 103) had cited the term "upper block coal" as an informal usage (Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986). Numerous descriptions of this coal from deep mines and outcrops around Brazil, Indiana, suggest that the type locality is about 2 to 3 miles (3 to 4.5 km) northeast of Brazil near the old mining town of Cardonia (Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986).

History of usage:

In 1899, this coal bed was also designated Coal IV in the sequence in northern Clay County and in Vigo County, where Ashley had based his numbering of Indiana coal beds (Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986).

Because the name “Upper Block Coal” has long commercial and geologic applications, Indiana coal stratigraphers continue to use the term (Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986). As advocated by Powell (1968), the Upper Block has member status in the Brazil Formation (Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986).

Description:

In northern Clay County (Hutchison, 1960, p. 17-18), the Upper Block Coal Member consists of moderately dull banded hard semisplint (Hutchison, 1970; Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986). In mining, it comes up in blocks measuring 0.5 foot (0.15 m) to more than 3.0 ft (0.9 m) on a side (Hutchison, 1970; Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986). This characteristic, as for the Lower Block Coal Member, results from two well-developed sets of vertical joints that trend about N. 20° W. and N. 70° E (Hutchison, 1970; Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986). In this area the Upper Block coal ranges from 1.5 to 5.0 ft (0.5 to 1.5 m) in thickness and averages slightly more than 3 ft (> 0.9 m) where mined (Hutchison, 1970; Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986). About 1.5 ft (0.5 m) above the base of the coal bed is a zone of soft flaky coal (fusain) 0.01 to 0.03 foot (0.003 to 0.01 m) thick, which divides the coal into two benches of unequal thickness (Hutchison, 1970; Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986). The lower bench tends to break up into small cubes, but the upper bench breaks into larger blocks (Hutchison, 1970; Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986). In places, the top few inches of the bed is a bone coal (Hutchison, 1970; Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986).

The roof of the coal is generally gray shale that is hard, silty, and thick bedded, but in places it is a few inches of gray soft flaky shale overlain by brown or gray sandstone that is hard, medium grained, and massive (Hutchison, 1970; Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986). In some small areas the sandstone forms the roof of the coal. The floor is gray underclay that is hard, slightly sandy, and carbonaceous and that becomes plastic when moistened (Hutchison, 1970; Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986).

Correlations:

The Upper Block Coal Member, lying near the middle of the Brazil Formation, about 25 ft (7. 6 m) above the Lower Block and 20 to 25 ft (6.1 to 7.6 m) below the Minshall Coal Member, has been recognized from northern Fountain County (Hutchison, 1961) through Parke and Clay Counties (Hutchison, 1956, 1960, 1976), western Owen County, and Greene County (Kottlowski, 1959, 1960; Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1988; Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986). A coal bed of different physical characteristics, which has been mapped as an unnamed coal in the Brazil Formation, is present in the same stratigraphic position in Daviess, Dubois, and Spencer Counties (Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986). This coal bed may be the Upper Block Coal Member, but lithostratigraphic continuity of this coal with the Upper Block type area has not been demonstrated (Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986).

The Upper Block Coal Member has been variably correlated with the Pope Creek, Delwood, and Willis Coal Members in the different parts of the Illinois coalfield, with the Dry Wood Coal of Missouri, and with the Ice House (No. 3 Coal) and Elm Lick Coals of western Kentucky (Wanless, 1939, p. 105; Kosanke and others, 1960, pl. 1; Hopkins and Simon, 1975, p. 182-183; Peppers and Popp, 1979, p. 68-70; Searight, 1979, p. 84; Hutchison and Hasenmueller, 1986).

Regional Indiana usage:

Illinois Basin (COSUNA 11)
Supergroup: none
Group: Raccoon Creek Group
Formation: Brazil Formation
Member: Upper Block Coal Member
Illinois Basin Margin (COSUNA 12)
Supergroup: none
Group: Raccoon Creek Group
Formation: Brazil Formation
Member: Upper Block Coal Member

Misc/Abandoned Names:

Coal IV

Geologic Map Unit Designation:

Pbzub

Note: Hansen (1991, p. 52) in Suggestions to authors of the reports of the United States Geological Survey noted that letter symbols for map units are considered to be unique to each geologic map and that adjacent maps do not necessarily need to use the same symbols for the same map unit. Therefore, map unit abbreviations in the Indiana Geologic Names Information System should be regarded simply as recommendations.

COSUNA areas and regional terminology

Names for geologic units vary across Indiana. The Midwestern Basin and Arches Region COSUNA chart (Shaver, 1984) was developed to strategically document such variations in terminology. The geologic map (below left) is derived from this chart and provides an index to the five defined COSUNA regions in Indiana. The regions are generally based on regional bedrock outcrop patterns and major structural features in Indiana. (Click the maps below to view more detailed maps of COSUNA regions and major structural features in Indiana.)

Map showing the COSUNA areas (heavy black line) that approximate regional bedrock outcrop patterns and major structural features in Indiana, and the COSUNA numbers (large bold font) for these areas. The COSUNA boundaries are limited to state and county boundaries that facilitate coding.

COSUNA areas and numbers that approximate regional bedrock outcrop patterns and major structural features in Indiana.

Map showing major tectonic features that affect bedrock geology in Indiana.

Major tectonic features that affect bedrock geology in Indiana.

References:

Ashley, G. H., 1899, The coal deposits of Indiana: Indiana Department of Geology and Natural Resources Annual Report 23, p. 1-1,573.

Ashley, G. H., 1909, Supplementary report to the report of 1898 on the coal deposits of Indiana: Indiana Department of Geology and Natural Resources Annual Report 33, p. 13-150.

Hansen, W. R., 1991, Suggestions to authors of the reports of the United States Geological Survey (7th ed.): Washington, D.C., U.S. Geological Survey, 289 p.

Hopkins, M. E., and Simon, J. A., 1975, Pennsylvanian System, in Willman, H. B., Atherton, Elwood, Buschbach, T. C., Collinson, Charles, Frye, J. C., Hopkins, M. E., Lineback, J. A., and Simon, J. A., Handbook of Illinois stratigraphy: Illinois State Geological Survey Bulletin 95, p. 163-201.

Hutchison, H. C., 1956, Distribution, structure, and mined areas of coals in Clay County, Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Preliminary Coal Map 6.

Hutchison, H. C., 1960, Geology and coal deposits of the Brazil quadrangles, Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 16, 38 p.

Hutchison, H. C., 1961, Distribution, structure, and mined areas of coals in Fountain and Warren Counties and the northernmost part of Vermillion County, Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Preliminary Coal Map 9.

Hutchison, H. C., 1970, Upper Block Coal Member, in Shaver, R. H., Burger, A. M., Gates, G. R., Gray, H. H., Hutchison, H. C., Keller, S. J., Patton, J. B., Rexroad, C. B., Smith, N. M., Wayne, W. J., and Wier, C. E., Compendium of rock-unit stratigraphy in Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 43, p. 181-182.

Hutchison, H. C., 1976, Geology of the Catlin-Mansfield area, Parke and Putnam Counties, Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 54, 57 p.

Hutchison, H. C., and Hasenmueller, W. A., 1986, Upper Block Coal Member, in Shaver, R. H., Ault, C. H., Burger, A. M., Carr, D. D., Droste, J. B., Eggert, D. L., Gray, H. H., Harper, Denver, Hasenmueller, N. R., Hasenmueller, W. A., Horowitz, A. S., Hutchison, H. C., Keith, B. D., Keller, S. J., Patton, J. B., Rexroad, C. B., and Wier, C. E., Compendium of Paleozoic rock-unit stratigraphy in Indiana–a revision: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 59, p. 159-160.

Hutchison, H. C., and Hasenmueller, W. A., 1988, Distribution, structure, and mined areas of coals in Greene County, Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Preliminary Coal Map 17.

Kosanke, R. M., Simon, J. A., Wanless, H. R., and Willman, H. B., 1960, Classification of the Pennsylvanian strata of Illinois: Illinois State Geological Survey Report of Investigations 214, 84 p.

Kottlowski, F. E., 1959, Geology and coal deposits of the Coal City quadrangle, Greene, Clay, and Owen Counties: U.S. Geological Survey Coal Investigations Map C-28.

Kottlowski, F. E., 1960, Geology and coal deposits of the Switz City quadrangle, Greene County, Indiana: U.S. Geological Survey Coal Investigations Map C-41.

Peppers, R. A., and Popp, J. T., 1979, Stratigraphy of the lower part of the Pennsylvanian System in southeastern Illinois and adjacent portions of Indiana and Kentucky, in Palmer, J. E., and Dutcher, R. R., eds., Depositional and structural history of the Pennsylvanian System of the Illinois Basin–Pt. 2, Invited papers, Ninth International Congress Carboniferous Stratigraphy and Geology, Illinois Geological Survey Guidebook Series 15a, p. 65-72.

Powell, R. L., 1968, Distribution, structure, and mined areas of coals in Parke County and southern Vermillion County, Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Preliminary Coal Map No. 13.

Searight, T. K., 1979, The stratigraphy and sedimentation of the Abbott and lower portion of the Spoon Formation in the outcrop belt of southern Illinois, in Palmer, J. E., and Dutcher, R. R., eds., Depositional and structural history of the Pennsylvanian System of the Illinois Basin Pt. 2, Invited papers: Ninth International Congress Carboniferous Stratigraphy and Geology, Illinois State Geological Survey Guidebook Series 15a, p. 81-86.

Shaver, R. H., coordinator, 1984, Midwestern basin and arches region–correlation of stratigraphic units in North America (COSUNA): American Association of Petroleum Geologists Correlation Chart Series.

Wanless, H. R., 1939, Pennsylvanian correlations in the Eastern Interior and Appalachian coalfields: Geological Society of America Special Paper 17, 130 p.



For additional information contact:

Nancy Hasenmueller (hasenmue@indiana.edu)
Date last revised: July 28, 2017

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