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Thirty-Third Annual Convention and Exhibition, May 2009



Bayu A. Pramudhita*
Ben S.A. Siregar*
Heri Tanjung*
Mangku Faris*
Rian Indrajaya*
Yanto Kambu*

ABSTRACT approach for further exploration of CBM in Kutei

Basin, especially since the upper delta and lower
The primary objective of this study is to collect delta plain environment provide favorable condition
palynological and coal petrographic information to for coal development.
define a preliminary objective of CBM (Coal Bed
Methane) prospectivity of Balikpapan Fm., Kutei INTRODUCTION
Petrological and palynological investigations of
The palynology analysis was conducted by using several profiles of the main seam in Kutei Basin
samples of carbonaceous mudstone and shaly coal were performed in order to determine the
taken from in different intervals. Palynology depositional environment of the Pulaubalang Fm.
analysis of Balikpapan Fm. shows four main and Balikpapan Group which comprise Mentawir
palynomorph assemblage characters. Each character Fm. and Gelingseh Fm.
represents specific environment and vegetation
type. Of the four main characters, two represent The combined information of maceral distribution,
upper delta environment and lower delta plain coal maturation, palynomorph assemblages
environment as favorable environment for coal collected and analyzed from field observation and
deposition. laboratory analysis are very useful to determine:

Based on maceral content which was put into a. the environment, age and depositional history of
petrographic indices, the coal of Balikpapan Fm. Balikpapan Fm. coals by means of palynology
was deposited in wet forest swamp area with limno- and organic petrography approach.
telmatic – telmatik condition, medium to high level
density of tree. Rapid burial condition occured b. the origin and condition of coal development by
during deposition time but occasional microbial means of maceral distribution
attack also took control. The type of mire is bog and
fen which having characters from ombrotrophic c. the level of coal maturation by means of vitrinite
(solely rain-fed) to mesotrophic (tending toward reflectance and spore colour index (SCI).
ombrotrophic condition). Vitrinite reflectance
shows that the coal maturation is considered to be Several geological field investigations and
brown coal to sub-bituminous and is situated at the laboratory techniques were performed to achieve
peak stages of biogenic gas generation, while the the objective of the study. The fieldwork
thermogenic gas generation was at early stages. investigations comprised detailed examinations,
observations, and measurement on lithotype, cleat,
Based on the result above, it’s assumed that the coal stratigraphic position, and physical characteristics
has a, relatively, thick bed and tend to produce the of the coals. The work then continued by field data
biogenic gas. This result is useful as a preliminary collection, palynology samples collection and, coal
petrography analysis purposes.

* University of Padjadjaran
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Methodology and Samples Palynomorph Assemblages

Coal and palynology data were analyzed using The palynomorph assemblages of the Balikpapan
microscopic analysis. The objective of coal Fm. generally can be distinguished into four main
petrography was to determine the type and characteristic. The parameters of those
composition of maceral, Spore Color Index (SCI) characteristic are based on the percentage of the
and Vitrinite Reflectance (Rv) while palynology common vegetation palynomorph as well as its
method was to determine palynomorph assemblages variants. Each of this parameter could define
and Thermal Alteration Index (TAI). The type and different meaning in term of environment or even in
composition of maceral were put into TPI-GI advance prospective in coal development. The four
diagram (Diessel, 1986), and GWI-VI diagram main characteristics of the Balikpapan Group are
(Calder et al.1991) to know the mire described below:
paleoenvironment. The rank and degree of
maturation of coal were obtained by putting Rv • The first character: freshwater vegetation
value and spore color into coal maturation chart palynomorph shows dominance over the
which modified from Maturation Range Chart by backmangrove vegetation palynomorph.
Cook and Kantsler (1982) and Coal Maturation Although the percentage of backmangrove
Chart (in Handbook on Coal Bed Methane vegetation has a significant increase, but
Produced Water: Management and Beneficial Use still could not overcome the percentage of
Alternatives). The palynomorph assemblages freshwater vegetation palynomorph. The
distinguish the vegetation palynomorph by its common freshwater vegetation
character and provide information. about the palynomorph are represented by
possible environment of the each character. For TAI Polypodiidites perverrucatus,
(Thermal Alteration Index) analysis the output is Polypodiidites usmensis, Magnastriates
the equivalent of Rv range value and coal rank howardi, Lanagiapolis emarginatus,
which in the end, will be correlated with the Cyathea. The appearance of Discoidites
measurement from coal analysis. eflatus, Discoidites pilosus, Acrostichum,
Florshuetzia levipoli and Spinozonocolpites
RESULT echionatus represent the backmangrove
vegetation palynomorph. The dominant
Regional Geology
percentage of freshwater vegetation
The study area lies on the East Kalimantan Province palynomorph and the appearance of
(Figure 1) and tectonically belongs to the region of backmangrove vegetation palynomorph
Kutei Basin. This is a cratonic and back-arc basin, represent upper delta plain environment
associated with the Tertiary SE directed subduction (Morley, 1990). This condition could
zone of NW Borneo (no longer active), and represent the hard wood vegetation related
developed in the eastern part of the island and the to its environment. Coal could develop very
Makassar Strait (Land and Jones,1987). Tertiary well in this environment. Based on Humble
rifting and crustal extension in the Strait (Katili Chart’ TAI (Thermal Alteration Index), this
(1978), Situmorang (1982)) in Land and Jones, palynomorph characteristic shows
1987) had an important effect on the development dominant color of yellow orange to orange
of the basin. Structurally the studied area is which have the same range value of
controlled by NNE-SSW trending fold of vitrinite reflectance of 0.3%– 0.5%. This is
Samarinda Anticlinorium and several thrust faults also equivalent to coal rank of lignite to
(Figure 1) as an inversion product of compression sub-bituminous (Table. 2)
phase at Middle Miocene time. Stratigraphically the
Balikpapan Fm. is the coal bearing Fm. of • The second: assemblage of backmangrove
prograded fluvio-deltaic deposits of Middle – Late vegetation palynomorph shows dominance
Miocene times. It consists of sandstone, shale, over the freshwater vegetation
interbedded with lignite to coalbed and several palynomorph. This is the opposite from the
lenses of limestone deposited in littoral – middle first characteristic. The common
neritic zones. In some places, depositional backmangrove vegetation palynomorph are
environment is found to be outer neritic to bathyal Acrostichum aureum, Scolocyamus magnus,
bathymetric zones. This Fm. is one of the targeted and Spinizonocolpites echinatus. The
formations especially in coal exploration in East freshwater vegetation palynomorph is
Kalimantan. represented by the appearance of
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Converusporites pondersus, Crassoretitri Zonocostites ramonae from backmangrove

letes vanraadhooveeni, Polypodiidites vegetation. The various vegetation
perverrucatus, Polypodiidites usmensis, and palynomorph represent prodelta
Marginipolis concinnus. The dominance of environment.
backmangrove vegetation palynomorph TAI shows no difference with other
against freshwater vegetation palynomorph characteristics; 0.3%– 0.5% for the vitrinite
represents the environment of lower delta reflectance and lignite to sub bituminous for
plain (Morley, 1990). This could represent coal rank.
the nypa vegetation related to its
environment. Although the four characteristic shows the same
vitrinite reflectance and coal rank, the different
TAI on Humble Chart shows that the values environment gives a new parameter to
in vitrinite reflectance to coal rank have the understand how this could effects the potential
same value of 0.3%– 0.5% for the vitrinite that could be explore in this case about the
reflectance and lignite to sub bituminous for potential of coal or coal bed methane.
coal rank.
Maceral Composition

• The third: represents the dominance of Analyses of maceral and mineral matter in the coal
backmangrove/mangrove vegetation were conducted to identify the maceral types and
palynomorph. Acrostichum aurem and distribution. Maceral composition of Balikpapan
Spinizonocolpites echinatus are the Fm. coals were identified by using coal petrography
common backmangrove vegetation method in reflected light and fluorescence modes.
palynomorph that could be found in this Table 1 presents the results of the proportions of
characteristic and the appearance of maceral and mineral matter in the individual coals.
Zonocostites ramonae which is a significant
representation of the mangrove vegetation
palynomorph. Polypodiidites usmensis, Basically, the macerals comprise three main groups;
Polypodiidites perverrucatus, Cyatheaceae, vitrinite, inertinite, and exinite. Vitrinite maceral
Marginipolis concinnus and Discoidites group is derived mainly from humified “woody”
eflatus are types of freshwater vegetation plant remains; inertinite represents oxidized and
palynomorph. The significant appearance of degraded plant remains, has the same origin as
mangrove vegetation palynomorph vitrinite, and exinite originated from waxy or
represents the environment of delta front resinous material, cuticles, spores, pollen, alga
(Morley, 1990). bodies, and phytoplankton.

The third character has the similar TAI on The coal petrography data shows that Balikpapan
Humble Chart from the previous Fm. coal is mainly consisted of vitrinite group,
characteristic which is 0.3%– 0.5% for the followed by exinite group, and the last is inertinite
vitrinite reflectance and lignite to sub group. Vitrinite group content varies from 69.80 %
bituminous for coal rank. to 94.75 %, and it consists mainly of telocollinite
and desmocollinite, followed by corpocollinite,
vitrodetrinite, and to a lesser extent, telinite. The
• The fourth: marked by the concentration of exinite group, varies between 0.40 % and 15.40 %,
abundant and various palynomorph, which consist mainly of resinite, followed by sporinite,
are the freshwater vegetation palynomorph cutinite, liptodetrinite, alginite, suberinite,
(Cyatheaceae, Lanagiapollis emarginatus, exudatinite, and fluorinite. The inertinite group
Magnastriates howardii, Polypodiidites varies between 1.50 % and 13.00 %, which consist
perverrucatus and Polypodiidites of fusinite, semifusinite, sclerotinite, macrinite,
usmensis), back mangrove vegetation micrinite, and inertodetrinite.
palynomorph (Acrostichum aureum and
Scolocyamus magnus) and the significant Mire Paleoenvironment
appearance of hinterland vegetation
palynomorph (Dacrydiumites florinii and Petrographic indices were used as a parameter to
Monoporites annulatus). This characteristic interpret the depositional environment of the coal
is also marked by the absence of precursor which calculated from the diagnostic
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maceral compositions. The petrographic indices are Based on result, coals in the researched area can be
Tissue Preservation Index (TPI), Gelification Index determined as brown-coal to sub-bituminous rank
(GI), Groundwater Influence (GWI) and Vegetation (Cook, 1982). Such characteristics tend to be
Index (VI) were used in the study. TPI and GI biogenic gas prone because thermal, pressure and
values were plotted in depositional environment depth have less influence than biogenic process.
model (Diessel, 1986 and 1992) then GWI and VI Even though the biogenic gas is still formed and is
were plotted on mire paleoenvironment model situated at the peak stages, the thermogenic gas has
(Calder et. al., 1991). been started (Figure 8).

The TPI value of Balikpapan Fm. ranges between DISCUSSION

0.79 – 3.07, indicating the presence of relatively
moderate to well preserved plant tissues in the coal. The vegetation palynomorph of Balikpapan Fm. is
The GI value ranging from 8.20 % to 23.18 % divided into four main characteristics and each
shows that the coals have a low oxidation degree character represents different environment which
which is compensated by high jellification process also affect the generation of the coal as the main
(Lamberson et., al., 1991). target for the Coal Bed Methane (CBM). From the
four main characteristic mentioned above, two
Generally, vitrinite dominates coals in Balikpapan characteristics are interpreted as good coal bearing
Fm. The abundance of vitrinite in coal indicates that sequence of Balikpapan Fm. The first characteristic
the coal was originated in wet forest swamp shows the domination of freshwater vegetation
environment (Teichmuller and Teichmuller, 1982; palynomorph over the backmangrove vegetation
Bustin, 1983), mainly from arborescent palynomorph. The dominant percentage of
vegetation (Rimmer and Davis, 1988). Based on freshwater vegetation palynomorph and the
TPI and GI diagram, Balikpapan Fm. coals was appearance of backmangrove vegetation
deposited in wet forest swamp area with limno- palynomorph represent the upper delta plain
telmatic – telmatik condition, medium to high level environment. Second characteristic shows the
density of tree. Rapid burial condition occured, but dominance of backmangrove vegetation
occasional microbial attack also took control. The palynomorph over the freshwater vegetation
GWI and VI values show that the type of mire is palynomorph. The dominance of backmangrove
bog and fen with ombrotrophic (solely rain-fed) to vegetation palynomorph against freshwater
mesotrophic (tending toward ombrotrophic vegetation palynomorph represents the environment
condition) character. of lower delta plain (Morley, 1990). This
environment could represent the hard wood
• Coal Maturation vegetation such as nypa related to the environment
where this vegetation was developed.
Vitrinite reflectance (Rv) measurement and Spore
Color Index (SCI) analysis of coal were conducted The depositional environment interpretation based
in this study to determine the rank of coal. on palynology analysis is also suitable to the
Balikpapan Fm. coal typically has a mean of deposition environment interpretation based on coal
vitrinite reflectance (Rv) value from 0.310 to petrographic indices and maceral composition. The
0.500%. Maximum reflectance was 0.600% and result says the coal was deposited in wet forest
minimum reflectance was 0.254%. Moreover, swamp area with limno-telmatic – telmatik
analysis of Spore Color Index (SCI) of exinite condition and medium to high level density of trees
showed the pale yellow to orange colour, in a and this condition could develop in delta plain
fluorescence mode (Figures 7a, 7b, 7c). These environment. The domination of vitrinite maceral
characteristics show that the coal maturation was also shows the domination of arborescent (woody)
brown-coal to sub-bituminous rank (Cook, 1982). vegetation. This characteristic can be assumed as
Palynomorph analysis also provides information of delta plain environment and coal in this
the thermal maturity consist in TAI which could environment is interpreted to have a relatively thick
reflect an equivalent vitrinite reflectance and coal bed and wide laterally spread, making it good CBM
rank. The TAI analysis on the four characteristics reservoir.
results in same range value and equivalence of coal
rank which are 0.300% – 0.500% for the vitrinite Vitrinite Reflectance measurement performed on
reflectance and lignite to sub bituminous for coal the coal samples in Balikpapan Fm. shows that the
rank. value of Rv mean is between 0.352 % to 0.500 %,
and the spore color index (SCI) analysis on exinite
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maceral shows that the color of exinite is between important in influencing the potential of gas in coal
pale yellow to orange. This analysis result indicates bed.
that the coal maturation of Balikpapan Fm. is brown
coal to sub-bituminous coal rank. The coal ranks REFERENCES
that have been determined from this analysis fit
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four main characters shows only one type of
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Figure 1 - SAR of Kutai Basin depicts NNE – SSW trending structural trend and research location
(modified from IPA Fieldtrip Guidebook, 1998)

Figure 2 - Kutai Basin startigraphy summary (modified from Marks, 1982), red shading shows research
focus of stratigraphic unit.
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Figure 3 - Pollen Transportation Model for Delta System (Morley, 1990)

Figure 4 - Palynomorph Assemblages Characteristics

Figure 5 - Coal Facies Diagram of Balikpapan Formation (based on Diessel, 1986, and Lamberson et., al.,
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Figure 6 - Mire Paleoenvironment Diagram of Balikpapan Formation

(a) (b)


Figure 7 - Exinite colour represent by suberinite (a), resinite (b) and cutinite (c)
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Figure 8 - Coal Maturation Chart