Metalliferous Coals of Cretaceous Age: A Review

Shifeng Dai, Sergey I. Arbuzov, Igor Yu Chekryzhov, David French, Ian Feole, Bruce C. Folkedahl, Ian T. Graham, James C. Hower, Victor P. Nechaev, Nicola J. Wagner, Robert B. Finkelman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Critical elements in coal and coal-bearing sequences (e.g., Li, Sc, V, Ga, Ge, Se, Y and rare earth elements, Zr, Nb, Au, Ag, platinum group elements, Re, and U) have attracted great attention because their concentrations in some cases may be comparable to those of conventional ore deposits. The enrichment of critical elements in coals, particularly those of Carboniferous-Permian and Cenozoic ages, have generally been attributed to within-plate (plume-related) volcanism and associated hydrothermal activity. However, Cretaceous coals are not commonly rich in critical elements, with the exception of some (e.g., Ge and U) in localised areas. This paper globally reviewed metalliferous coals from Siberia, the Russian Far East, Mongolia, South America, the United States and Mexico, Canada (Alberta and British Columbia), China, Africa, and Australasia (Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Northern Territory, New Zealand, Nelson, West Coast, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland). The world-class Ge-U or Ge deposits in North China, Mongolia, and Siberia are the only commercially significant representatives of the Cretaceous metalliferous coals, which are related to bio-chemical reduction of oxidized meteoric, hydrothermal, or sea waters by organic matter of the peat bogs. The common Cretaceous coals worldwide are generally not rich in critical elements because intensive igneous activity led to extensive acidification of terrestrial and marine waters, which are responsible for the low coal metallogenesis during the Cretaceous period, especially the Early Cretaceous time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1154
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • cretaceous coal
  • critical metals
  • global review
  • igneous activity
  • mineralization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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