The onshore part of the Sydney Basin, Nova Scotia, contains a 2 km fining-upward coal-bearing succession, the Pennsylvanian Morien Group. Facies analysis indicates an upward change in depositional environment from mid- through distal braid-plain to meandering fluvial plain. This change occurred earliest in the southeast part of the basin, where the meandering channels were incised through penecontemporaneous duricrusts. Northeastward drainage was maintained throughout, and the basin fill records gradually decreasing slopes as source relief was worn down and rate of subsidence declined during a period of increasing tectonic quiescence. The uneconomic coals of the lower Morien Group (South Bar and Waddens Cove formations) are thin and inextensive and formed in well-drained swamps of anabranches from the active braided system or between incised meandering channels. The economic coals of the upper Morien (Sydney Mines Formation) are more extensive and formed in broad, humid swamps of large flood basins between the unconfined channels of large meandering rivers.