The Danville Coal Member (Dugger Formation, upper Desmoinesian, Pennsylvanian) is a significant economic coal resource in the Illinois Basin, central USA. Deposition of the Danville Coal (peat) was in coastal environments, varying distances from the coastline and, in turn, variable influences from saline waters. The purpose of this study is to examine the coal quality and petrography of the Danville Coal; and to discuss their relationship with depositional environment as it relates to the final coal product. A medium sulfur (1.0-1.5 wt.%) Danville Coal reserve area (northern Indiana coalfield) was compared to a low sulfur (<1.0 wt.%) Danville Coal (central Indiana coalfield) reserve area, the two being approximately 70 km apart. The medium sulfur coal resulted from the peat being deposited in a near-marine environment less protected from the influence of saline waters, whereas the low sulfur coal resulted from fine-grained, clay-dominated sediment protecting the peat from the direct influence of saline waters. Within both areas, the coal quality, coal composition, and trace element concentrations vary as a function of the proximity of the coal to the overlying Busseron Sandstone Member (Pennsylvanian). Where the Busseron Sandstone rests near or directly on the coal, the sulfur content is significantly higher in the top third of the seam. Conversely, where there is a thick section (>3 m) of finer-grained clastic sediments atop the Danville, the sulfur and trace elements contents are significantly lower. ?? 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.