The Jackson and Wilcox Groups of eastern Texas (fig. 1) are the major lignite producing intervals in the Gulf Region. Within these groups, the major lignite-producing formations are the Paleocene-Eocene Calvert Bluff Formation (Wilcox) and the Eocene Manning Formation (Jackson). According to the Keystone Coal Industry Manual (Maclean Hunter Publishing Company, 1994), the Gulf Coast basin produces about 57 million short tons of lignite annually. The state of Texas ranks number 6 in coal production in the United States. Most of the lignite is used for electric power generation in mine-mouth power plant facilities. In recent years, particular interest has been given to lignite quality and the distribution and concentration of about a dozen trace elements that have been identified as potential hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. As pointed out by Oman and Finkelman (1994), Gulf Coast lignite deposits have elevated concentrations of many of the HAPs elements (Be, Cd, Co, Cr, Hg, Mn, Se, U) on a as-received gm/mmBtu basis when compared to other United States coal deposits used for fuel in thermo-electric power plants. Although regulations have not yet been established for acceptable emissions of the HAPs elements during coal burning, considerable research effort has been given to the characterization of these elements in coal feed stocks. The general purpose of the present field trip and of the accompanying collection of papers is to investigate how various aspects of east Texas lignite geology might collectively influence the quality of the lignite fuel. We hope that this collection of papers will help future researchers understand the complex, multifaceted interrelations of coal geology, petrology, palynology and coal quality, and that this introduction to the geology of the lignite deposits of east Texas might serve as a stimulus for new ideas to be applied to other coal basins in the U.S. and abroad.