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Kansas Geological Survey, Current Research in Earth Sciences, Bulletin 253, part 1
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Palynological Correlation of Atokan and Lower Desmoinesian (Pennsylvanian) Strata Between the Illinois Basin and the Forest City Basin in Eastern Kansas

Russel A. Peppers, Illinois Geological Survey, Emeritus, Champaign, IL 61820,
Lawrence L. Brady, Kansas Geological Survey, Lawrence, KS 66047

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Palynological correlation is made between Atokan and lower Desmoinesian strata in the Illinois basin and the Forest City basin in eastern Kansas. Spore data from previous studies of coals in the Illinois basin and other coal basins are compared with data from spore assemblages in coal and carbonaceous shale bands in a core drilled in Leavenworth County, Kansas. Correlations are based on first and/or last occurrences of 31 species common to the Illinois basin and eastern Kansas and on significant increases or decreases in abundance of several of those taxa. The oldest coal, which is 26 ft (8 m) above the top of the Mississippian, is early Atokan (early Westphalian B) in age and is approximately equivalent to the Bell coal bed in the Illinois basin. The Riverton coal bed at the top of the studied interval in Kansas is early Desmoinesian (early Westphalian D) and correlates with about the Lewisport coal bed in the Illinois basin. Three coal beds near the base of the Pennsylvanian in three cores drilled in Cherokee County, Kansas, which were also studied, range in age from late Atokan to early Desmoinesian.

As in other coal basins, Lycospora, borne by lycopod trees, greatly dominates the lower and middle Atokan spore assemblages in coals and shale, but spores from ferns, especially tree ferns, significantly increase in abundance in the upper Atokan and lower Desmoinesian. The pattern of change of dominance among Lycospora pellucida, L. granulata, and L. micropapillata in middle Atokan (Westphalian B-C transition) that has been demonstrated earlier in the Illinois basin and eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, also occurs in eastern Kansas. At least 10 species of spores, which appeared in the middle Atokan in other parts of the equatorial coal belt, also appeared at this time in eastern Kansas. Most of these species have their affinities with the ferns, which were adapted to drier habitats than lycopods. Thus, the climate may have become a little drier in the equatorial coal belt during middle Atokan.

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Kansas Geological Survey
Web version Aug. 16, 2007