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Solid-state 13C NMR studies of a large fossil gymnosperm from the Yallourn Open Cut, Latrobe Valley, Australia

January 1, 1989

A series of samples taken from the cross section of a 3-m-diameter fossilized gymnospermous log (Araucariaceae) in the Yallourn Seam of the Australian brown coals was examined by solid state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance to delineate chemical changes related to the combined processes of peatification and coalification. The results show that cellulosic materials were degraded and lost on the periphery of the log, however, the degree of such degradation in the central core is substantially less. The lignin is uniformly altered by coalification reactions to a macromolecular substance displaying decreased aryl ether linkages but significantly greater amounts of carbon linkages compared to modern lignin. Changes in the methoxyl carbon contents of lignin in cross section reveal demethylation reactions, but these do not appear to be related to degree of carbon linking. Both the degredation of cellulosic materials and demethylation of lignin appear to be early diagenetic processes occurring during peatification independently of the coalification reactions. ?? 1989.