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Preliminary evaluation of the coalbed methane potential of the Gulf Coastal Plain, USA and Mexico

January 1, 2002

Several areas in the Gulf Coast have potential for coalbed gas accumulations. These areas include parts of southern Alabama and Mississippi, north-central Louisiana, northeast, east-central and south Texas and northeastern Mexico. The coal deposits in these areas vary in rank, thickness, lateral extent and gas content, and range in age from Late Cretaceous to Eocene.

Gas desorption tests conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on shallow (2,000 ft [609 m]) Paleocene (Wilcox-Midway Groups) coals of southeastern Mississippi indicate that the coalbeds contain some methane. Measured gas contents range from 0 to 19 scf/ton (0.19 to 0.59 cc/g; dry, ash-free) and average about 15 scf/ton (0.5 cc/g). These coals have apparent ranks of lignite to subbituminous (vitrinite reflectance of 0.3 to 0.4% Romax) at shallow depths and subbituminous to bituminous (0.5 to 0.6% Romax) in the deeper parts of the basin. Adsorption isotherm data indicate that Wilcox Group coals are undersaturated and have methane gas-storage capacities similar to those of the subbituminous coals in the Powder River basin, Wyoming. In the primary areas where Wilcox Group coalbeds are mined and subsurface data are available, net coal thickness ranges from about 10 to 50 ft (3 to 15 m), which is much less than coal thickness in the Powder River basin, which can be 300 ft (91 m).

Upper Cretaceous and Paleocene-Eocene coals of south Texas and northeastern Mexico are subbituminous to bituminous rank (up to 0.6% Romax). Some methane has been produced commercially from thin coal beds (13 ft [4 m] net) and associated sandstone at shallow depths (

Publication Year 2002
Title Preliminary evaluation of the coalbed methane potential of the Gulf Coastal Plain, USA and Mexico
Authors Peter D. Warwick, Charles E. Barker, John R. SanFilipo
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70195469
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse