Controls on Long-Term Global Rates of Coal Deposition, and the Link between Eustasy and Global Geochemistry

  • L. Bruce Railsback
Part of the Coastal Systems and Continental Margins book series (CSCM, volume 1)


Global rates of coal deposition correlate positively with long-term lowering of global sea level, probably because long-term first-order regression leaves sedimentary shelves exposed as coastal plains for development of peat swamps during higher-order short-term transgressions. Global coal depositional rates are weakly correlative with orogenic activity, probably because development of foreland basins favors peat deposition. Global coal depositional rates are not correlative with paleogeographic parameters, although previous work has shown that paleogeography is a major control on location of coal deposits. Global coal depositional rates are correlative with neither abundance of plant species nor changes in abundance of plant species.

The paleoclimatologic significance of these results is that, although coal is clearly a climatically sensitive sediment, its paleolatitudinal sensitivity may diminish during global regression. The geochemical significance is that coal deposition, like sulfate deposition, is a parameter important in governing the atmosphere’s O2 and CO2 contents. If, as recent work suggests, both coal deposition and sulfate deposition are functions of sea level change, eustasy may have been a major control on the changing composition of the earth’s atmosphere in the Phanerozoic.


Coastal Plain Global Rate Peat Deposition Petroleum Geologist Coal Deposition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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