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Geochemical data for Illinois Basin coal samples, 2015–2018

April 19, 2021

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and their collaborators conducted a study of the geochemical properties of coals currently produced for electric power generation in the Illinois Basin in Illinois and Indiana. The study follows from recommendations by an expert panel for the USGS to investigate the distribution and controls of trace constituents such as mercury (Hg) in Illinois Basin coals and the behavior of these constituents in coal preparation. A total of 72 new samples were collected by USGS collaborators between 2015 and 2017. These samples include raw coals, prepared coals, and waste coals from coal preparation. To understand the geochemistry and cleaning behavior of these coals, these samples were subjected to an integrated series of analyses described here, including microanalysis of coal constituents and bulk sample chemical analysis. Of the procedures used, whole-sample Hg analysis quantified overall mercury contents and its reduction by coal preparation. Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) of pyrite in coal quantified Hg and other potentially harmful elements contained in pyrite, the most likely host of these constituents. Trace elements investigated include those whose emissions are regulated under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. This report and the corresponding data release, serve as an archive for geochemical data obtained in our study of the geochemistry of Illinois Basin coals. Material included in this report also define approaches used by the USGS over the period of study to characterize coal samples, requiring combined use of results from USGS and non-USGS laboratories.