Basal Pennsylvanian coal-bearing strata exposed along Roaring Creek, west-central Indiana, exhibit extreme lateral discontinuity. Coal seams abruptly change in thickness and elevation; they split, grade into shale, are cut out by channels and disrupted by soft-sediment deformational structures. Initial sediments were laid down by a network of southwest- flowing streams that traversed a deeply channelized upland surface of Mississippian carbonate rocks. Channels aggraded rapidly as uplands were worn down, so the region changed through time from uplands to upper deltaic plain. Local environments included channels, localized point bars, small natural levees and crevasse splays, overbank deposits, and swamps. Differential compaction and subsidence, slumping stream banks, and possibly collapsing sinkholes influenced sedimentation. As a consequence, coals are too discontinuous for economical mining, although they are locally thick and high in quality. 16 references.