considering in detail the areas within which they occur in Britain,
together with the rocks with which they are most intimately
associated. The commencement of the Carboniferous period is
Sequences of carbon-
iferous strata. marked by a mass of limestones known as the Carboniferous or Mountain Limestone, which contains a large assemblage of marine fossils, and has a maximum thickness in S.W. England and Wales of about 2000 ft. The upper portion of this group consists of shales and sandstones, known as the Yoredale Rocks, which are highly developed in the moorland region between Lancashire and the north side of Yorkshire. These are also called the Upper Limestone Shale, a similar group being found in places below the limestone, and called the Lower Limestone Shale, or, in the north of England, the Tuedian group. Going northward the beds of limestone diminish in thickness, with a proportional increase in the intercalated sandstones and shales, until in Scotland they are entirely subordinate to a mass of coal-bearing strata, which forms the most productive members of the Scotch coalfields. The next member of the series is a mass of coarse sandstones, with some slates and a few thin coals, known as the Millstone Grit, which is about equally developed in England and in Scotland. In the southern coalfields it is usually known by the miners’ name of “Farewell rock,” from its marking the lower limit of possible coal working. The Coal Measures, forming the third great member of the Carboniferous series, consist of alternations of shales and sandstones, with beds of coal and nodular ironstones, which together make up a thickness of many thousands of feet—from 12,000 to 14,000 ft. when at the maximum of development. They are divisible into three parts, the Lower Coal Measures, the middle or Pennant, a mass of sandstone containing some coals, and the Upper Coal Measures, also containing workable coal. The latter member is marked by a thin limestone band near the top, containing Spirorbis carbonarius, a small marine univalve.
The uppermost portion of the Coal Measures consists of red sandstone so closely resembling that of the Permian group, which are next in geological sequence, that it is often difficult to decide upon the true line of demarcation between the two formations. These are not, however, always found together, the Coal Measures being often covered by strata belonging to the Trias or Upper New Red Sandstone series.
The areas containing productive coal measures are usually known as coalfields or basins, within which coal occurs in more or less regular beds, also called seams or veins, which can often be followed over a considerable length of country without change of character, although, like all stratified rocks, their continuity may be interrupted by faults or dislocations, also known as slips, hitches, heaves or troubles.
The thickness of coal seams varies in Great Britain from a mere film to 35 or 40 ft.; but in the south of France and in India masses of coal are known up to 200 ft. in thickness. These very thick seams are, however, rarely constant in character for any great distance, being found commonly to degenerate into carbonaceous shales, or to split up into thinner beds by the intercalation of shale bands or partings. One of the most striking examples of this is afforded by the thick or ten-yard seam of South Staffordshire, which is from 30 to 45 ft. thick in one connected mass in the neighbourhood of Dudley, but splits up into eight seams, which, with the intermediate shales and sandstones, are of a total thickness of 400 ft. in the northern part of the coalfield in Cannock Chase. Seams of a medium thickness of 3 to 7 ft. are usually the most regular and continuous in character. Cannel coals are generally variable in quality, being liable to change into shales or black-band ironstones within very short horizontal limits. In some instances the coal seams may be changed as a whole, as for instance in South Wales, where the coking coals of the eastern side of the basin pass through the state of dry steam coal in the centre, and become anthracite in the western side. (H. B.)
The most important European coalfields are in Great Britain, Belgium and Germany. In Great Britain there is the South Welsh field, extending westward from the march of Monmouthshire to Kidwelly, and northward to Merthyr Tydfil. A midland group of coalfields extends from south Lancashire to the West
coalfields. Riding of Yorkshire, the two greatest industrial districts in the country, southward to Warwickshire and Staffordshire, and from Nottinghamshire on the east to Flintshire on the west. In the north of England are the rich field of Northumberland and Durham, and a lesser field on the coast of Cumberland (Whitehaven, &c.). Smaller isolated fields are those of the Forest of Dean (Gloucestershire) and the field on either side of the Avon above Bristol. Coal has also been found in Kent, in the neighbourhood of Dover. In Scotland coal is worked at various points (principally in the west) in the Clyde-Forth lowlands. In Belgium the chief coal-basins are those of Hainaut and Liége. Coal has also been found in an extension northward from this field towards Antwerp, while westward the same field extends into north-eastern France. Coal is widely distributed in Germany. The principal field is that of the lower Rhine and Westphalia, which centres in the industrial region of the basin of the Ruhr, a right-bank tributary of the Rhine. In the other chief industrial region of Germany, in Saxony, Zwickau and Lugau, are important mining centres. In German Silesia there is a third rich field, which extends into Austria (Austrian Silesia and Galicia), for which country it forms the chief home source of supply (apart from lignite). Part of the same field also lies within Russian territory (Poland) near the point where the frontiers of the three powers meet. Both in Germany and in Austria-Hungary the production of lignite is large—in the first-named especially in the districts about Halle and Cologne; in the second in north-western Bohemia, Styria and Carniola. In France the principal coalfield is that in the north-east, already mentioned; another of importance is the central (Le Creusot, &c.) and a third, the southern, about the lower course of the Rhone. Coal is pretty widely distributed in Spain, and occurs in several districts in the Balkan peninsula. In Russia, besides the Polish field, there is an important one south of Moscow, and another in the lower valley of the Donetz, north of the Sea of Azov. The European region poorest in coal (proportionately to area) is Scandinavia, where there is only one field of economic value—a small one in the extreme south of Sweden.
In Asia the Chinese coalfields are of peculiar interest. They are widely distributed throughout China Proper, but those of the province of Shansi appear to be the richest. Proportionately to their vast extent they have been little worked. In a modified degree the same is true of the Indian fields; large supplies are unworked, but in several districts, especially about Raniganj and elsewhere in Bengal, workings are fully developed. Similarly in Siberia and Japan there are extensive supplies unworked or only partially exploited. Those in the neighbourhood of Semipalatinsk may be instanced in the first case and those in the island of Yezo in the second. In Japan, however, several smaller fields (e.g. in the island of Kiushiu) are more fully developed. Coal is worked to some extent in Sumatra, British North Borneo, and the Philippine Islands.
In the United States of America the Appalachian mountain system, from Pennsylvania southward, roughly marks the line of the chief coal-producing region. This group of fields is followed in importance by the “Eastern Interior” group in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, and the “Western Interior” group in Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. In Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, and along the line of the Rocky Mountains, extensive fields occur, producing lignite and bituminous coal. The last-named fields are continued northward in Canada (Crow’s Nest Pass field, Vancouver Island, &c.). There is also a group of coalfields on the Atlantic seaboard of the Dominion, principally in Nova Scotia. Coal is known at several points in Alaska, and there are rich but little worked deposits in Mexico.
In the southern countries coal-production is insignificant compared with that in the northern hemisphere. In South America coal is known in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, northern Chile, Brazil (chiefly in the south), and Argentina (Parana, the extreme south of Patagonia, and Tierra del Fuego), but in no