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Data from thousands of coalbed methane wells, conventional oil and gas wells, and five regional seismic-reflection profiles show evidence of relationships among multiple extensional events and Appalachian thrusting in the area of the Alabama Promontory and Black Warrior Basin. The oldest extensional event is of late Precambrian to early Middle Cambrian age, associated with Iapetan rifting. Along the southeastern margin of the promontory, in the northeastern part of the Birmingham graben system, a fill sequence older than the Rome Formation (Early Cambrian) is inferred. Normal faults along both sides of the promontory were active from Early Cambrian to early Middle Cambrian, as indicated by expanded hangingwall sections of the Rome and Conasauga Formations. In the Black Warrior Basin, some basement-involved normal faults were active during deposition of the Ketona and Knox carbonates (Late Cambrian–Early Ordovician). Middle Cambrian to Early Ordovician extension coincided with the inception and opening of the Rheic Ocean. Small amounts of growth occurred on some normal faults and on folds at the leading edge of the Appalachians during deposition of the Pottsville Formation (early Pennsylvanian, Morrowan). Major thin-skinned and basement-involved normal faulting occurred in the Black Warrior Basin after deposition of the preserved Pottsville section, probably during Atokan time. The extensional thin-skinned detachments are in or at the base of the Pottsville Formation and the top of the Conasauga Formation. Major Appalachian thrusting occurred after the main episode of normal faulting, perhaps during the late Pennsylvanian.

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