Selenium and tellurium concentrations of Carboniferous British coals

Liam A. Bullock* (Corresponding Author), John Parnell, Joerg Feldmann, Joseph Armstrong, Alessandra S. Henn, Marcia F. Mesko, Paola A. Mello, Erico M. M. Flores

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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Standard mode and collision/reaction cell mass spectroscopy methods have been utilised in order to overcome spectral interferences and provide ultra-low quantification of selenium (Se) and tellurium (Te) in British coals for the first time. The accurate detection of Se and Te in coals is becoming increasingly important, as coals and pyrite have been identified as potentially significant trace element sources. The mean Se concentration of British coals bear comparison to that of world coals, with anomalous Se content (concentrations above 4 mg/kg) across westerly exposures, often coinciding with high sulphur (S) content and visible pyrite. New Te data for British coals gives a mean concentration of 0.02 mg/kg, with anomalous Te in Ayrshire. There is a positive correlation in the Te/Se ratio across the sample set. The close relationship between Se and Te, as well as Se-Te with both early syngenetic and later cleat filling pyrite, confirms an important role for sulphides in Se and Te sequestration in British coals. The high Se-Bowland Shale and/or Ordovician volcanics may have provided the trace element source British coals of similar or younger age. Regional intrusive activity (shallow Se and Te concentrations of British coals LB draft manuscript tabular intrusions or more extensive plutons) and episodes of intense deformation can alter the thermal maturity of coals, and may have driven the movement of trace element-rich fluids through strata, locally enriching coals in Se and Te.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1401-1412
Number of pages12
JournalGeological Journal
Issue number3
Early online date26 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2019

Bibliographical note

The authors wish to thank Kier Group, the British Coal Utilisation Research Association (BCURA) and Uniper (E.On) for kindly providing coal samples. The authors are grateful to Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS) for supporting this study. The authors are grateful for the thorough and constructive comments from two anonymous reviewers, as well as the careful editorial handling of Prof. Ian Somerville. This work was supported by the NERC under Grant number NE/L001764/1.


  • coal
  • coal measures
  • Great Britain
  • pyrite
  • selenium
  • sulphur
  • tellurium
  • Carboniferous
  • Coal Measures


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