Comparison of maps produced from publicly available data (drillers' logs, electrical logs and mine maps) provides a basis for inferring a deep-seated influence on the distribution of superposed deposits of thick coal (>1.4 m) in four Middle Pennsylvania (Desmoinesian Series) coal beds in three mining districts of west-central Indiana. Thick sandstone (>18 m) is common in areas between and around the mining districts, but less than 3 percent of the study area (consisting of 3200 km2) is underlain by both thick coal and thick sandstone. Only thick sandstone associated with the Survant Coal Member (Linton Formation), and informally referred to by us "Survant sandstone", exists in all of the thin-coal areas. After comparison with published maps by other authors, it is inferred that distribution of the Survant sandstone, which was deposited immediately after a long period of slow deposition associated with the Colchester Coal Member (Linton Formation), may reflect topographic expression of long-term subsidence associated with differential thinning of much deeper Silurian strata (580 m below). Although the findings of this study provide the basis for a conceptual geologic model with a hypothetical structure that is amenable to statistical testing, such analysis should be undertaken only after the data are analyzed for randomness, spatial autocorrelation, linearity and normality. ?? 1991.