Confusing Words #1 – Carbonaceous

Some geology words just add confusion to the reader.

Confusing word:
Carbonaceous – Relating to the organic or carbon content of the rock. Example: “This siltstone is really carbonaceous!” when referring to an organic-rich siltstone.

Could be confused with:
Carbonate or derivative – Being made up of a carbonate compound (usually calcium carbonate). Example: “The carbonate shale was very thick” when referring to a mix of clay and limestone minerals.

Since “Carbonate” is a word many geologists learn much earlier than “Carbonaceous”, I think the latter should fall out of use. “Organic-rich” is a much more descriptive term.

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