The mineralogic residence and abundance of trace metals is an important environmental issue. Data from the USGS coal quality database show that potentially toxic elements, including Hg, As, Mo, Se, Cu, and Tl are enriched in a subset of coal samples in the Black Warrior Basin of Alabama, USA. Although the coal as-mined typically is low in these elements, localized enrichments occur in high-pyrite coals and near faults. Microscopic analyses demonstrate that the residence of these elements is dominantly in a late-stage pyrite associated with structurally disrupted coal. Further, our data suggest addition of Hg to the coal matrix as well. The source of these trace elements was hydrothermal fluids driven into the Black Warrior Basin by Alleghanian age tectonism. ?? 2004 Published by Elsevier B.V.