Edward Hull.

The coal-fields of Great Britain : their history, structure and resources. With descriptions of the coal-fields of our Indian and colonial empire, and of other parts of the world online

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Online LibraryEdward HullThe coal-fields of Great Britain : their history, structure and resources. With descriptions of the coal-fields of our Indian and colonial empire, and of other parts of the world → online text (page 22 of 31)
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Bbramaputra, in the province of Assam. They are dis-
tinguished by the following names : — 33, Makum ; 34,
Jaipur; 35, Nagira; 36, Janji ; 37, Disai.f

It will be convenient in this abbreviated account to treat
of them collectively.

• Mallet, " Memoirs, Geological Survey of India," vol. xii, Part. II.
** Manual," vol. ii, p. 701.

t The numbers refer to those given by Mallet. See George Turner in
** Coal- mining in Assam." "Trans. Fed. Inst. Mining Engineers," vol. 10,
Part II, p. 356 (1896).

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Some uncertainty exists as to the age of the rocks, but
the balance of evidence seems to favour the view, that it
is middle Tertiary (Miocene), and therefore distinct from
the Cretaceous and Nummulitic coal-formation of the
Khasi hills.

The coal differs from that of the Indian coal-fields in
having a homogeneous structure, and in the absence of
lamination ; the average of the assay of twenty-three
samples gave : —

Moisture 5*o

Carbon 56*5

Volatile 34*6

Ash 3-9

This shows a high quality of fuel as compared with
Indian coals.

The opening up of these fields is a point of the highest
importance, since at present coal is carried 1,000 miles from
Bengal for the navigation of the Bhramaputra ; thus
causing a ten-fold increase on the prime cost

It is possible that some of the coal of the Khasi Hills
above alluded to, may prove of value hereafter ; but the
same does not, so far as is known, seem probable in
reference to the Tertiary coals of the North- West Provinces,
although hopes in that direction have often been expressed ;
and a project for the exploration of one of these deposits
has, I understand, recently assumed a tangible form, a
company having been formed, the result of whose opera-
tions will be watched with interest.

Salt'Ra*ige^ Punjab, — Beds of coal and lignite of inferior
quality occur near Bhaganwala, Pid, and Samundri. They
belong to the Jurassic and Tertiary periods, and are

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described in detail by Mr. Wynne in his valuable memoir
on the Salt-Range *

♦ " On the Geology of the Salt Range, Punjab," " Mem. Geol. Survey,
Ind.," vol. xiv. These deposits were previously reported upon by the late
Dr. Oldham for the Indian Government. The report is not encouraging.

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The following is the output of coal in India for 1902 and
1903** for which I am indebted to Prof. Dunstan, F.R.S. : —

















Central India



Central Provinces



Hyderabad (Deccan)




1. 138


Kashmir (prospecting)


Rajputana (Bikaner) .,.






Summary. — From the above brief description of a few
of the coal-fields of British India, taken from the careful
and elaborate reports of the Government Surveyors, which
are accessible to all, it may be gathered that Northern
India has all the materials for the development of com-

• In Bengal there were 218 collieries at work in 1895 5 i" '896 the number
of collieries was reduced to 154, though the quantity of coal raised was
greater. An excellent map of the Jherriah Coal-field, by Mr. G. E. Stonier,
late Chief Inspector of Mines in India, is published by the "Colliery
Guardian," September 16, 1904. The Jherriah Coalfield is traversed by the
Damuda River, in Bengal.

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mercial and industrial pursuits. The valley of the Ganges,
navigable for such great distances inland from the ocean,
and now traversed by lines of railway, has also enormous
stores of coal and iron — those materials which have been
the source of the wealth of Great Britain itself. It is also
a cotton-growing country, and there is therefore no apparent
reason why cotton might not to a larger extent be manu-
factured where it is grown. With such advantages,
Northern India may become a great manufacturing country.
Whether it will become so is a question which will be
determined on moral and social grounds ; depending on
the enterprise, perseverance, and intelligence of the people

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China, — The laborious researches of Baron von Richthofen,
the enterprising traveller, together with the accounts
received from time to time through other sources, leave no
doubt that there are large deposits of coal in this great
empire. The provinces of Hoonan and Shansi, lying to
the south of the Yang-tse-Kiang, are richly stored both
with coal and iron. In the latter province the Baron
came upon a region which he describes as **one of the
most remarkable coal and iron districts in the world."*
He considers it to be in extent considerably greater than
that of Pennsylvania, These vast resources are not
utilized by the natives, owing to unskilfulness in mining,
and chiefly to the absence of roads. Another of these
districts lies near the city of E-u, in the prefecture of King
Hua (lat. 29° 15' N., long. 119^46' E.). The coal is here
worked in pits from 300 to 500 feet in depth, and the
mines are opened out into galleries branching off into the
seams at successive stages in the descent.f The mineral
is also worked in the cliffs of the Pe-Kiang River at

• From report forwarded to the Foreign Office, and quoted by Sir
R. Murchison in the Anniversary Address to the Roy. Geog. Soc., London,

+ Rev. R. H. Cobbold, " Joum. Geol. Soc.," vol. xii.

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Tingtih, by means of adits driven into the side of the hill
at the outcrop of the coal-seams ; and lastly, at a place
5 miles from the city of Whang-shih-Kang on the River
Yang-tse-Kiang, an account of which is recorded by
Mr. Oliphant* Extensive coal-deposits occur in Central
Manturia, near Mukden, worked by a branch from the
railway to Port Arthur.

The working of coal in China dates probably from a very
ancient period. Our earliest notice is by the celebrated
traveller, Marco Polo, towards the close of the thirteenth

As regards the geological age of the coal-formations of
China, the evidence which we possess leads to the con-
clusion that they are more recent than the Carboniferous,
and probably of Mesozoic age. Remains of cycads are
abundant, and have been collected by Mr. R. Pumpelly ;t
on the other hand, the characteristic Carboniferous genera
and species are apparently wanting. It seems, therefore,
not improbable that the newer Indian and Chinese Car-
bonaceous deposits are of the same, or nearly the same,
geological age.

Malaysia and Japan, — That magnificent group of islands
lying between the Indian and North Pacific Oceans, seems
to be as rich in the mineral treasures of the past as it is in
the vegetable productions of the present. Besides gems,
and metallic ores in abundance, including iron, which yields
the unrivalled Japanese steel, several of these islands
contain strata stored with coal. And when we regard the
geographical position of these islands, lying on the
confines of the Eastern hemisphere, and in the track of

• " Lord Elgin's Mission to China and Japan," vol. ii, p. 389.
t ** American Joyri^al of Science," Septeinber, 1866.

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vessels trading between America and Asia, the economic
value of these sources of fuel can scarcely be over-estimated.
It was on this account that the American expedition to
Japan kept steadily in view the establishment of depots
for coal on several points on the coast of those islands, for
the supply of American steam-vessels* With a similar
object, the Indian Government have given attention to the
supplies of coal known to exist in Borneo, and have been
successful in inducing the chiefs to form depots of coal on
the coasts. It is also satisfactory to learn that the trials
made both in New York, Calcutta, and in the steam-
vessels themselves, of samples of coal from these islands,
are very favourably reported.

In Japan, coal-mines are worked in the districts of Kiusin
and Niphon ; and the testimony of Kaempfer regarding its
abundance is corroborated by that of the officers of the
American expedition. The Islands of Formosa and
Karapty, the latter of which is now appended to the
Russian Empire, also contain this mineral in considerable

The Hokkaido Colliery and Railway ConipanyX — The
Hokkaido Colliery and Railway Company (the Tanko
Tetsudo Kwaisha) was organised in 1889, to operate coal-
mines and railways in Hokkaido, Japan. One of the first
acts of the new company was to buy from the Government

• ** American Expedition to Japan." The Geological Map of the Japanese
Empire, Scale i : 1,000,000, issued by the Imperial Geological Survey ot
Japan, does not indicate the existence of a coal-formation, but the presence
of coal itself is shown by a small cross ( x ), which, amongst the numerous
details, is not always clearly visible.

t Atkinson's " Travels in the Amoor."

X ** From a paper by K. Yonekra, manager, written for ** Mines and
Minerals." ** Colliery Guardian," September 16, 1904.

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the Poronai Railway and the Poronai Coal-mine. After-
wards the Ikushunbetsu Coal-mine was purchased, and new
mines were opened in Sorachi and Yubari. A line of
railway was built from the Port of Muroran to Sorachibuto,
with branches to the Sorachi and Yubari Mines. The
Government granted a subsidy of 5 per cent, on the money
expended in building railways up to the end of 1899. The
capital of the company was originally 6,500,000 yen, but
has been gradually increased to 18,000,000 yen (i yen
equals, practically, 50 cents). Since 1894 the company
has declared dividends of from 12 to 15 per cent, each

The railways owned and operated by the company are
212 miles in length. One railway starts from the Port of
Otaru, on the N.W. coast, and the other from Muroran
on the S.E. coast. They meet at Iwamizawa and run
northward to Sorachibuto, where the line connects with the
Government railway. There are branches to the four
collieries now worked by the company, and the coal is
transported direct to the Ports of Otaru and Muroran.
The company, besides furnishing coal .to the prominent
steamship companies and manufacturing plants, ships coal
to Shanghai, Hong-Kong, Manilla and even to Singapore,
distant over 2,000 miles. The main office of the company
is in Sapporo, Hokkaido. The- head office of the mining
department is at Yubari Mine, and that of the railway
department is at Iwamizawa Junction. Besides, there are
many branch offices, where stores of coal are kept, one of
the chief ones being in Tokio, where much of the selling is
done. The total output of the coal from the four mines
during the years 1899 — 1902, inclusive, is as follows: —

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In Borneo, the province of Labuan on the N.W. coast
abounds in coal, and there is at least one important colliery
now in work.* Several beds crop out near the River Gooty,
at the N.E. of the island. Mr. Bellot states that the
mineral resembles the best cannel, and burns readily.f It
also occurs in Pulo Cheremin, an island at the mouth of the
Borneo River.

Mr. J. G. H. Godfrey has described a coal-bearing series of
strata at Horimui of considerable extent, best developed in
the western part of Japan, and considered on fossil evidence
to be of Cretaceous age.J

At this colliery there are four seams.




I seam


... 4



2 „



3 M

... 3



4 ,1

Total ...

... II

... 32


A new colliery is being put down, intended to raise 100,000 tons per
annum ; as I am informed by Mr. R. M. Smith of Edinburgh (1873).

t Mr. T. Bellot, " Joum. Geol. Soc.," vol. iv.

X "Notes on the Geology of Japan." «*Proc. Geol. Soc., Lond,"

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The great Anglo-Saxon Empire, which is springing up
at the antipodes, seems to have all those mineral resources
so necessary to the commercial prosperity of a nation.
Amongst these, coal is not the least important ; and that
it occurs in vast quantities will be apparent from the
following brief statements of each of the provinces into
which Australia has been parcelled.

Victoria. — The state of Victoria contains Carbonaceous
deposits, from which coal has already been extracted. The
late Government geologist, Mr. Selwyn, was engaged for
several years in investigating the mineral resources of this
highly-favoured colony, and has prepared very fine maps
of the coal districts. Mr. Selwyn states that if the mass of
the coal-bearing strata of Victoria be Oolitic (Jurassic),
there are certamly others in the eastern districts of the
colony which contain plants of the true Carboniferous type,
while the beds themselves rest and pass downwards into
calcareous rocks with fossils which are nearly all Car-
boniferous or Devonian forms.* How remarkable, that
both here and at our antipodes, in Britain in the Northern
and Australia in the Southern hemisphere — countries now
standing in the relation of parent and child — Nature should

* " Geology of Victoria," "Journ. Geol. Soc. London," vol. xvi, p. 145.

Z 2

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have been elaborating mineral fuel during theisame eventful
period of the Earth's bygone history !

New South Wales.* — This coal-field extends along the
coast of the Pacific Ocean from Sussex Haven to Port
Stephens, a distance of 200 miles, and inland to the base of
the Cordilleras, having an area of over 15400 square miles,
and contains numerous seams of bituminous, steam, and
gas coal, besides beds of " Kerosine," or oil-shale, and of
iron-ore. The beds belong to the Carboniferous series,
as shown by the late Rev. W. B. Clarke, and are lai^ely
charged in their lower part both with fossil shells and
plants similar to those of the Carboniferous series of
Western Europe and Britain.

The general succession of the strata, according to
Messrs. Clarke and Wilkinson, is as follows : —

(/) Wianamatta Series, shales with fish, Palaonisats^ fresh water

shells and plants 500

{d) Hawkesbury Series, chiefly sandstones with ferns {Cyclop-

teris Browniana) i,ooo

(f) Upper Coal-measures of Newcastle with plants, etc. {Glossop-
terisj Sphenopteris^ Conifers) \ 1 6 coal-seams over 3 feet

in thickness 480

[b) Upper Marine Beds, shales, sandstones, and coal, numerous

shells, Productus, Spirifera^ Crinoids 350

Lower Coal-measures, shales, sandstones, with similar fossils 100
(a) '* Lepidodendron Beds," shales, sandstones, etc., with
plants, Knorria^ Sigillaria^ Lepidodendron^ resting un-
conformably on the Devonian Rocks.

The Wianamatta series is said to rest unconformably on

the Hawkesbury series, and is probably of a later geological

* "Mines and Mineral Statistics of New South Wales " (Sydney, 1875),
containing reports by Mr. C. S. Wilkinson, Government Geologist, the late
Rev. W. B. Clarke, Prof. Liversidge, Mr. Mackenzie, Examiner of Coal-
fields, and others.

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age ; the lower groups {a and b) clearly indicate an age
corresponding to that of the Carboniferous rocks of Great

In 1874, 1,304,567 tons of coal were raised, and a good
deal exported from Newcastle. The output is yearly
increasing, and in 1903 reached 3,278,000 tons.

No one has contributed so largely to our knowledge of
the coal resources of New South Wales as that indefatigable
explorer, the late Rev. W. B. Clarke. Some years since I
was favoured by him with a general summary of the results
arrived at up to 1861 (since extended), which are of
increasing importance to the development of the colonies,
as also to the progress of communication by railways,
which have sprung into existence since the Exhibition of
185s, and to steam navigation, now rapidly advancing, as
well as to manufacturing establishments rising around.
The following are extracts from Mr. Clarke's summary : — f

" In the year 1847, ^^^ author of this notice stated (in
evidence before a Committee of the Legislative Council)
that he had then obtained acquaintance with the existence of
Carboniferous formations over from 17,000 to 18,000 square
miles on the eastern side of the Colony, between 32 degrees
and 35 degrees south. Since then, his own experience

* Prof. McCoy considered the upper plant-bearing beds to be of Jurassic
age, and to be stratigraphically disconnected with those bearing coal. Prof.
J. Morris seems to have held a similar view. On the other hand, the late
Prof. Jukes, writing in 1850, three years after the publication of Prof. McCoy's
valuable papers, expressed his opinion that the whole series was **one great
continuous formation." Dr. Oldham, in reviewing the relations of the Coal-
formations of New South Wales and of India (Damuda group), came to the
conclusion that they are identical in age, r.^., at the conBnes of the Palseosoic
and Mesoroic epochs. " Mem. Geol. Survey of India," vol. ii, p. 333.

t Dated, "St. Leonard's," October 19th, 1861.

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has been much enlarged during his explorations of Australia;
and, coupling his present actual knowledge with the infor-
mation derived from other explorers, he is now enabled to
state that, compared with its gold-fields, the Carboniferous
portion of this territory is of infinitely greater importance
than was at that time supposed."

On the east coast of New South Wales, the Carboniferous
formation presents itself with little interruption, except
from extensive dykes of trap (of which the basaltic dykes
strike N.E., and the greenstone dykes, which are well
exemplified on the coast at Newcastle, strike N.W.), from
between 3 1 deg. 30 min. south, to at least 36 deg. south ; and
in two principal parts of this coast line, valuable coal-seams
occupy the cliffs washed by the ocean, about Newcastle
and the north of Illawarra. The position of the former is
very advantageous for all the purposes of commerce ; the
latter has some disadvantages, owing to the difficulty of
approach to the cliffs from seaward.

As in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, so also at Australian
Newcastle, vessels can receive coal immediately from the
mines at the mouth of the Hunter River, which, by structures
erected on a grand scale, has been turned into an accessible
and safe harbour. The coal-fields lie close by the sea-shore,
some beds cropping out even upon the steep coast-bluffs,
so that they can be distinctly seen from the sea, on a
voyage from Sydney to Newcastle. There are, also, in the
vicinity of this town, already 1 1 known seams extending
over an area of about 6 miles along the coast, and 20 miles
into the interior, having a thickness of from 3 to 30 feet.*
The analysis of this coal gives: carbon 74*13 to 78*0,
hydrogen and oxygen 2587, ash 5*0, water I'O.'f

* Hochstettcr's " New Zealand," " Eng. Trans.," p. 75. t /M,, p. 91.

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At Ballambi Point, north of Wollongong, operations for
the shipment of coal, brought by a tramway from the seams
situated in the Illawarra escarpment, have been some time
carried on. Steps are also in progress for the commence-
ment of a breakwater harbour at that point, where the
mineral treasures of vast extent, from no less than
12 seams, will be available for transport; and at Wol-
longong a new basin is being excavated.

" As some of these seams are traceable for many miles
both northward and southward, the Illawarra will ere long
supply abundance of fuel well calculated for the purposes
of navigation.

" Passing to the coast north of the Hawkesbury, we find
another series of seams extending from the Tuggerah Beach
Lake to the left bank of the Hunter; the cliffs about
Newcastle presenting an escarpment varying up to 300 feet,
in which seams of coal, that are worked inland, present
themselves. Other seams occur in the Western Flats, and
have been worked to various depths down to 400 feet
below the sea. Within the last few years numerous
fresh openings have been made, and some rich seams,
fully equal in thickness to the Nine-Feet Upper Illawarra
Seam, have been discovered.

** Passing to the westward, the whole valleys of the
Hunter and the Goulburn offer occasional occurrences of
valuable Carboniferous deposits ; as at Stony Creek, near
Maitland, at Anvil Creek, and other localities, five seams
occur at an enormous depth below the Newcastle Beds.
The following localities indicate some of the places where
coal has long been known, viz. : — Four-Mile Creek, Hex-
ham, base of the Myall Rang<!, Wollombi, Morpeth, Mait-
land, Wallis Creek, Anvil Creek, Purrendurra, Glendon

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Brook, Tolga Creek on the Paterson, Leamington, WoUon,
Jerry's Plains, Sadleir's Creek, Foy Brook, Falbrook,
Ravensworth, Maid- Water Creek, Muswell Creek, Elden-
glassie, Piercefield, north of Bengala, at Gill's Cliff and
Coyeo on the Page, near Murrurundi and Harbenvale,
Kingdon Ponds, Mount Wingan, near Scone, and at the
junction of the Hunter and Goulburn, as well as higher up
on the latter river, near Gummum. Coal-beds also occur
on the Talbragar and Cudgegong Rivers.

" South-east of these localities, coal appears at the foot
of Mount York, and at Bowenfells, near Hassan's Walls ;
on the Rivers Coxe and Wollondilly, on the Nattai, at
Barragorang, on Black Bob's Creek, to the west of the
Southern Hanging Rock, at Balangola Creek, west of
Arthursleigh, in the deep gullies about Bundanoon, Meryla,
and the Kangaroo Ground. Below the plateaux, on which
the seams crop out on the face of the Illawarra escarp-
ment, above Jamberoo and Mullet Creek, and below
Mounts Kembla and Keera, seams, to the number of 12,
occupy patches of cliff along the coast from near Waniora
Point to a great fault 10 or 12 miles northward ; north-
wards of which, at Gara, the beds of shale connected with
the coal rise at an angle of from 2 to 4 degrees from
beneath the Hawkesbury Rocks, which thence to the north
of Brisbane Water occupy the coast. This dip seems
general in the Illawarra, and also occurs on the Hunter ;
but it varies up to 16 degrees on that river, and north of
the Karuah to 50 degrees, and in places to 90 degrees.

" Passing on thus to the country about Port Stephens,
between the Karuah and the Manning, wc find a region
of coal full 25 miles in extent, in which are no less than
18 seams; of which one, measured by the writer, was
30 feet thick.

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"This region has since been surveyed by M. Odem-
heimer of Nassau, for the Australian Agricultural Company,
in whose estate this field occurs.

" Coal occurs in patches in other parts of New South
Wales, and has been occasionally worked to the north of
the Mittagong Range in the steep face of cliffs above the
Nattai Creeks, near the Fitzroy Iron Works.

" Respecting the position of the coal in some of the
localities, it may be observed, that the strike and joints of
the rocks lead to the conclusion that the coast line merely
intersects obliquely the general area or basin, which has
thus its minor axis along the Hawkesbury ; the New-
castle Seams finding their prolongation about the Werri-
berri Creek on the Warragamba River, and the Bullai
Seams having had their northern prolongation many miles
in advance of Newcastle, in a tract destroyed by, or below,
the sea ; all the evidence collected by observation leading
to the inference that this eastern coal-field is only a
portion of a once much larger area, distinctive portions of
which are occasionally thrown up by the sea on the beach
rocks and sands. This is true, especially, of the Illawarra,
where at Towrudgi Point, north of Wollongong, fossil
wood and trees exist near low-water mark, imbedded in
natural position in the rocks ; and at Ballambi, where
similar trees are entangled, two seams of CoaA making
their appearance also just behind the beach, and at and

Online LibraryEdward HullThe coal-fields of Great Britain : their history, structure and resources. With descriptions of the coal-fields of our Indian and colonial empire, and of other parts of the world → online text (page 22 of 31)