State Geological Survey Publishes New Report On Coal Resources

Feb 19, 2019

Lower Fort Union Formation coal beds on the eastern margin of the Great Divide Basin, Wyoming.
Credit Wyoming State Geological Survey

The Wyoming State Geological Survey published a new report about coal resources in South-Central Wyoming. The assessment analyzed coal beds that are part of the Fort Union Formation.

Specifically, scientists were looking at those formations in the Great Divide and Washakie basins.

Erin Campbell, the Wyoming state geologist and director of the Geological Survey, said the rocks in the formations could have formed anywhere between 55 and 65 million years ago.

A goal of the report was to continue to develop an "overall inventory of coal resources across Wyoming," according to Campbell said.

Moving forward, the report will be used in numerous ways.

"It will help us understand the formation of the Great Divide and Washakie basins about 65 million years ago," Campbell said. "It could also be a starting point for future coal mining."

She said it could also be used in the future to understand the potential availability of coal bed methane. There are three mines located in the surveyed area.

In 2018, Wyoming produced 304 million tons of coal. Two percent of that came from the area included in the report. Wyoming is the largest producer of coal in the United States.