Sedimentary models for coal formation in the Klip River coalfield.
Christie, Angus David Mackay.
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The primary objective of this study was to establish sedimentary models for peat formation in the southern part of the Klip River coalfield during Ecca (Permian) times and to assess palaeoenvironmental controls on coal seam behaviour and distribution. In order to achieve this approximately 2 400 borehole logs and 25 field sections were collected. The coal-bearing Vryheid Formation records early to late Permian fluvio-deltaic sedimentation within the northeastern main Karoo basin. Three informal lithostratigraphic subdivisions, based on the investigations of Blignaut and Furter (1940, 1952), are proposed: the Lower zone, Coal zone and Upper zone. An examination of the structural framework and history of the northeastern Karoo basin reveals that the southern and western boundaries of the Klip River coalfield are defined by zones of rapid basement subsidence : the Tugela and Oannhauser Troughs respectively. There is some doubt as to the locality of the source area to the rivers emptying into the Ecca sea. Ryan (1967) postulated the "Eastern Highlands" situated off the present southeast African coast, but it is contended that the Swaziland area, situated no more than 200 to 300 km to the northeast of the Klip River coalfield, constituted a more plausible source area. The Lower zone represents sedimentation along a westerly to southeasterly prograding coastline dominated by high-constructive lobate or braid deltas, but also showing significant influence by wave processes. The Coal zone, which varies in thickness from 35 to 60 m, represents a major phase of coastal progradation and braided-river deposition on extensive alluvial plains. Significant coal seams formed only during periods of fluvial inactivity, the duration of which was dependent on source-area processes. Coal seam geometry and behaviour in the Klip River coalfield were not influenced by the depositional environments of associated clastic sediments. The following factors were found to have of profound influence in determining the extent, distribution and rate of peat accumulation: 1. Platform stability and temporal and spatial variations therein. 2. The absence or presence of penecontemporaneous clastic sedimentation. 3. Duration of periods of peat formation. 4. Lithology and topographic expression of clastic sediments underlying peat-forming swamps. The peat-forming phase of the Vryheid Formation was terminated by an extensive transgression brought about by an eustatic rise in basin water-level and/or an increased rate of platform subsidence.