WVGES Trace Elements in West Virginia Coals

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Lanthanum Stratigraphic DistributionLanthanum Geographic DistributionLanthanum Summary Statistics

Lanthanum is one of the rare earth elements (REE) present in coals in trace amounts and of no environmental concern.

Geologic Distribution: Lanthanum is an important component of the mineral monazite ((Ce, La, Y, Th)PO4) 1. Monazite was found in trace amounts in 22 of 24 coal samples examined using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) in an unpublished study by the WVGES and probably is present in most coals. Lanthanum averaged 9.23 ppm on a whole coal basis in West Virginia.  Lanthanum correlated slightly with ash yield, but mainly with REE occurring in the mineral monazite, especially cerium (Ce) and lower for samarium (Sm), europium (Eu), lutetium (Lu), ytterbium (Yb), neodymium (Nd) and terbium (Tb).  Lanthanum also correlated with ash related elements thorium (Th), chromium (Cr), hafnium (Hf), scandium (Sc), tantalum (Ta), lithium (Li), lead (Pb) and vanadium (V). Probably because of the ubiquitous, but minor, occurrence of monazite in West Virginia coals lanthanum displayed no trends in stratigraphic or areal distribution.

Economic Impact: Rare earth compounds are used in carbon-arc lighting for motion picture projection and making optical glass 2.

Environmental Impact: Lanthanum is low in toxicity and emissions during coal combustion and mining are not considered an environmental hazard 1,2.

    1. Swaine, D.J., (1990)
    2. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
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