Alabama Rocks and Minerals

Though Alabama isn’t really known for its rocks, it actually is rich in pretty rocks! 

About 190 different minerals have been found in Alabama.

The southern half of Alabama is a coastal plain of sedimentary rocks, sand, and gravel. The northern half of rolling hills rests on beds of sedimentary rock, rich in coal and iron. And a small wedge-shaped area in east central Alabama is metamorphic rock.

Some of the rocks found in Alabama include: limestone is abundant throughout the state, often containing fossils like crinoids, brachiopods, and even corals; sandstone too can contain fossilized footprints, ripple marks, and plant impressions; colorful nodules of chert that sometimes contain fossilized shells or marine creatures; quartz-including amethyst, smoky quartz, and rose quartz; agates that are often found in river beds and road cuts; and unakite a green and pink granite with feldspar inclusions is unique to the Appalachian Mountains and found in the northeastern part of the state.

In 1967 Alabama designated Hematite as their state mineral. Hematite is found in the northeastern areas of the state, more near Red Mountain in Birmingham. But you can also find it in Alabama’s central regions, including Blount, DeKalb, Cherokee, Etowah, Tuscaloosa, and Jefferson Counties. At Red Mountain State Park, the Hematite is found just lying on the ground. You’ll find the Hematite closer to the ore mine sites and up the trails as you’re walking.

Marble was designated as the state rock in 1969. The longest marble deposit on earth runs under southeast and middle east Alabama for 32 miles. Its depth also goes on for more than 600 feet, and its width stands at a mile and a half. It is considered some of the whitest marble found and, in fact, was used to build the Lincoln Memorial.

Ashland in Clay County has quartz and pyrite in the river beds and garnets were found in nearby mines. Tourmaline has been found near Rockford in Coosa County due to its pegmatite veins and feldspar. Alexander City is home to several quarries where you can find Quartz, Cassiterite, Aquamarine, and other minerals.

There are a few great places to search for rocks and minerals in and around Tuscaloosa. In addition to the creek beds, there are some old strip mines and mining dumps that may still be productive. You can hope to find some nice agates, jaspers, kyanite, quartz, and petrified wood. You may even find some fossils in this area. You can explore the nearby Black Warrior River to collect agates, jasper, and petrified wood and Sipsey Wilderness offers a chance to find garnets, tourmaline, and smoky quartz. In the Strip Mine, NE of Tuscaloosa, you may find petrified wood and quartz.

The metamorphic geologically complex region that encompasses Talladega, Calhoun, and Cleburne counties, is a paradise for rockhounds. Explore the Talladega Slate Belt for marble, quartz crystals, agates, jaspers, and amethyst geodes. The Cheaha Mountain area also promises exciting finds like kyanite, garnet, and even gold!

The Coosa Valley in Talladega and Elmore counties is known for its abundance of colorful agate pebbles, particularly near the Tallapoosa River and its tributaries. Keep an eye out for jaspers, petrified wood, and even fossils alongside the agates.

Limestone County, particularly around Athens, is famous for its abundance of geodes. Crack them open to reveal quartz and calcite crystals. Focus on limestone outcroppings and creek beds for the best collecting areas.

In Lee County, explore the Fort Payne Formation for agate, jasper, and chalcedony geodes. Etowah County’s Bangor Limestone is known for calcite, dolomite, and quartz crystal-filled geodes.

The Providence Sand Formation in Marion County holds the key to agatized coral and other marine fossils. Explore streambeds and gravel bars near the Sipsey River for fossils.

Onyx is found in abundance in Alabama, and it’s mostly in Blount Counties.

In southern parts of Alabama, the unique coastal ecosystem offers a chance to unearth remnants of an ancient forest submerged by rising sea levels.

You can pan for gold, and search for gemstones, at the Alabama Gold Camp in Lineville. This pay-to-dig site lets you pan for gold in the creek, and look for red garnets, fossils and even citrine crystals amidst a simulated Civil War-era mining experience.

Before venturing out-do some research on where and what you can collect. Remember you must have permission to collect on private property.

See my page on Rockhounding Rules for general information on the rules of collecting rocks on various lands.