Overview of Alaska’s Coal Basins

The major coal provinces in Alaska are Northern Alaska, the Nenana area, the Cook Inlet-Matanuska Valley, the Alaska Peninsula, and in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering River. Potentially significant identified coal resources are present in other coalfields on the Seward Peninsula, Yukon-Koyukuk, and Upper Yukon provinces. Numerous smaller coal basins and minor coal occurrences are distributed from southeast Alaska to the interior parts of the state. With a few exceptions, most Alaska coal is low in sulfur, in many cases containing less than 0.5%. Alaska coals also exhibit low metallic trace elements, good ash-fusion characteristics, and low nitrogen content making them favorable for meeting environmental constraints on combustion in power plants.


Alaska’s coal is dominantly bituminous of Cretaceous age, or sub-bituminous of Cretaceous and Tertiary age. Except for Mississippian coal of the westernmost Northern Alaska Province, Alaska coal resources formed in widespread deltaic and continental depositional systems during Cretaceous and Tertiary time. The younger Tertiary age coals formed within sedimentary basins are related to fault systems with complex gravity and strikeslip motions that controlled basin formation and influenced deposition by differential settling.

For more information on Alaska's coal resources see this article on "Quantifying Coal: How much is there?"

Identified Alaska Coal Resources by Province
Province/Coal Field Millions of short tons Coal Rank
Northern Alaska Province
High-volatile bituminous & subbituminous; extensive lignite and minor anthracite
150,000 (Identified resources)
~3,600,000 (Hypothetical resources)
Cook Inlet-Matanuska Province
Beluga and Yentna fields 10,000 Sub-bituminous
Kenai field (onshore only) 320 Sub-bituminous
Matanuska field 150 High-volatile bituminous to anthracite
Broad Pass field 50 Lignite
Susitna field 110 Sub-bituminous
Nenana Province
Nenana basin proper 7,000 Sub-bituminous
Little Tonzona field 1,500 Sub-bituminous
Jarvis Creek field 75 Sub-bituminous
Alaska Peninsula Province
Chignik and Herendeen Bay fields
Unga I. 430 High-volatile bituminous
Gulf of Alaska Province
Bering River field 160 Low-volatile bituminous to anthracite
Yukon-Koyukuk Province
Tramway Bar field 15 High-volatile bituminous
Upper Yukon Province
Eagle field 10 Sub-bituminous and lignite
Seward Peninsula Province
Chicago Creek field 4.7 Lignite
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