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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The sedimentology, petrography and geochemistry of some Fraser Delta peat deposits Styan, William Bruce


On the recent lobe of the Fraser River Delta, peat deposition is occurring in three distinct settings: the distal delta plain, the transitional upper delta to lower delta plain, and the upper delta plain to alluvial plain. Each de-positional setting contains a unique sequence of lithofacies and biofacies. Distal lower delta plain peats, although widespread, form a thin, discontinuous peat network dominated by a sedge-grass facies. The peats contain numerous intercalations of silt and silty clay, with a moderate to high pH and a high concentration of sulphur values. The peats overlie a thin fluvial sequence, which in turn overlies a thick coarsening upward sequence of prodelta clay and silty clay. Peats from this environment will form thin lenticular seams of high ash and high sulphur coal. The coal maceral precursors in the peat suggest that the base of the coal will be comprised mainly of desmocol1inite, whereas near the top of the seam oxyfusinite, macrinite, and interlaminated cutinite and vit-rodetrinite would be common. Initial lower delta plain-upper delta plain peats developed from interdistributary brackish marshes. High concentrations of sulphur and ash in these peats decreased in overlying freshwater sedge-grass facies as the delta prograded and the natural levees formed. Sphagnum dominated communities eventually succeeded in areas where fluvial influence was minimal. Laterally, however, along active channel margins, sedge-grass peats intercalate with silty clay overbank and sandy splay deposits. A thin fluvial unit of fining upward sand, silt and clay and a thick sequence of coarsening upward prodelta clay and silty clay underly the deposit. These peats will form relatively thick, widespread coal seams. The seams will be thin and possibly discontinuous adjacent to channels and areas where extensive splaying has occurred. High sulphur concentrations will be confined to the base of seams. The maceral precursors suggest that interbanded telenite, cu-tinite and cerenite will be abundant in the base of the seam and will grade vertically into suberinite, telocollinite, and telenite rich coal. Stumps which will form massive telenite will occur locally. Alluvial plain peats accumulated in freshwater backswamp environments. Earliest sedge-clay and gyttjae peats developed over thin fining upward cycles of silty sand, silt and clay and inter laminated silt, and silty clay of flood origin. Overlying sedge grass and Sphagnum peats are horizontally stratified and form sharp contacts with.bordering flood sediments, at active channel margins, sedge-grass peats intercalate with overbank silty clay to form well developed natural levees, these peats will form a thick seam of high quality coal. The microlithotype composition is comprised of vitritic carbar-gillites and liptites near the base of the seams, and will shift to a clarite and then primarily vitrite near the top. Compared to delta plain peats, maceral distribution will be less complex.

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