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Mauch Chunk Formation

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The Mississippian Mauch Chunk Formation (Mmc) is a mapped bedrock unit in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. It is named for the township of Mauch Chunk, now known as borough of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, where Anthracite coal mining & shipping was first commercially exploited in a vertically integrated enterprise, helping overcome the decades long United State's first energy crisis by the forward looking Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company & builders of the game changing Lehigh Canal and nation's second operational railroad — all of which aided boot strapping the American Industrial Revolution, including financing many early railroads, building 8 of the first 10 successful anthracite iron blast furnaces in the Lehigh River valley.

Contents

Description

The Mauch Chunk is defined as a grayish-red shale, siltstone, sandstone, and conglomerate. The Loyalhanna Member is a local limestone and sandy limestone at its base, as well as the Greenbrier and Wymps Gap Members. Along the Allegheny Front, the Loyalhanna is a greenish-gray, calcareous, cross bedded sandstone.

Depositional environment

The early Mauch Chunk beds were deposited on a large basin receiving most of its sediments from distant highlands. Sea levels fluctuated and allowed some limestone deposition to occur early as well. Since the dominant color of the Mauch Chunk is red, much of the sediment was deposited above sea level in oxidizing conditions. The green-colored members indicate a reducing environment characterized by frequent inundation by water in a swamp, delta, or shallow sea. Later beds have frequent conglomerate beds signaling the first wave of the Alleghenian orogeny.

Fossils

Plants from the division Pteridospermatophyta notably Adiantites have been identified. Some fish and worm burrows have also been observed.

Age

Relative age dating of the Mauch Chunk places it in the late Mississippian epoch, with some of the top layers in the early Pennsylvanian epoch, being deposited between 345 to 320(±3) million years ago. It rests conformably atop many formations. Its upper contact is complex. In certain areas, the contact is conformable in others, there is an unconformity. However, the Pottsville Formation is always above the Mauch Chunk.

Economic uses

In 1953, a small amount of uranium was mined from the Mauch Chunk Formation near Jim Thorpe. (see Uranium mining in the United States)

References

Mauch Chunk Formation Wikipedia


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