The availability of seemingly limitless mineral resources was the key to the success of the Birmingham District, an area defined by geologic deposits that span five counties (Jefferson, Shelby, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Bibb). Some of the minerals essential to the iron industry and to the creation of Vulcan lie directly beneath you in the heart of Red Mountain.
Where Did They Come From?
These important minerals were deposited hundreds of millions of years ago and then pushed up into ridge formations by continental collision.
Mineral sediments deposited in a shallow inland sea 505-438 million years ago eventually became limestone, which is used to separate pure iron from impurities in the iron ore.
Iron-fixing bacteria swimming in the inland sea 435-396 millions year ago laid down enormous amounts of iron ore that formed a rich seam. Iron ore is the main ingredient in cast iron and steel.
Swamps developed when the primordial sea started to dry up 320-286 million years ago. The plants and animals in the swamps became coal when their decaying remains were compressed under great weight. The coal was originally one large deposit, but it slowly broke up into three major fields: the Cahaba, the Coosa, and the richest - the Warrior.