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The U.S. Geological Survey coal quality (COALQUAL) database version 3.0

December 21, 2015

Since the mid-1970s, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has maintained a coal quality database of national scope named USCHEM, which currently contains data for over 13,000 samples. A subset of the USCHEM database called COALQUAL Version 1.3 was initially published in 1994 and was followed by Version 2.0 in 1997. Version 3.0 of the COALQUAL database represents a major editing effort to resolve some of the DOS software limitations used by earlier versions of the database.

Because of database size limits during the development of COALQUAL Version 1.3, many analyses of individual bench samples were merged into whole coal bed averages. The methodology for making these composite intervals was not consistent. Size limits also restricted the amount of georeferencing information and forced removal of qualifier notations such as "less than detection limit" (<) information, which can cause problems when using the data. A review of the original data sheets revealed that COALQUAL Version 2.0 was missing information that was needed for a complete understanding of a coal section. Another important database issue to resolve was the USGS "remnant moisture" problem. Prior to 1998, tests for remnant moisture (as-determined moisture in the sample at the time of analysis) were not performed on any USGS major, minor, or trace element coal analyses. Without the remnant moisture, it is impossible to convert the analyses to a usable basis (as-received, dry, etc.). Based on remnant moisture analyses of hundreds of samples of different ranks (and known residual moisture) reported after 1998, it was possible to develop a method to provide reasonable estimates of remnant moisture for older data to make it more useful in COALQUAL Version 3.0. In addition, COALQUAL Version 3.0 is improved by (1) adding qualifiers, including statistical programming to deal with the qualifiers; (2) clarifying the sample compositing problems; and (3) adding associated samples. Version 3.0 of COALQUAL also represents the first attempt to incorporate data verification by mathematically crosschecking certain analytical parameters. Finally, a new database system was designed and implemented to replace the outdated DOS program used in earlier versions of the database.

Publication Year 2015
Title The U.S. Geological Survey coal quality (COALQUAL) database version 3.0
DOI 10.3133/ds975
Authors Curtis A. Palmer, Charles L. Oman, Andy J. Park, James A. Luppens
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Data Series
Series Number 975
Index ID ds975
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Energy Resources Science Center