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Barite

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The barium sulfate barite takes its name from the Greek word barys, which means “heavy” a reference to its high specific gravity. It has also been called heavy spar. Barite crystals are sometimes tinged yellow, blue, or brown. Golden barite comes from South Dakota. Crystals are well formed, usually either prismatic or tabular. Cockscomb (crested aggregates) and desert roses (rosette aggregates) of crystals are common. Transparent, blue barite crystals may resemble aquamarine but are distinguished by their softness, heaviness, and crystal shape. Barite can also be stalactitic, stalagmitic, fibrous, concretionary, or massive. Barite is a common accessory mineral in lead and zinc veins. It is also found in sedimentary rocks, clay deposits, marine deposits, and cavities in igneous rocks.

Name: From the Greek for weight, in allusion to the high specific gravity.

Polymorphism & Series: Forms a series with celestine.

Mineral Group: Barite group.

Associaton: Fluorite, calcite, dolomite, rhodochrosite, gypsum, sphalerite, galena, stibnite.

Chemical Properties of Barite

Chemical Classification Sulfate mineral, barite group
Chemical Composition BaSO4

Physical Properties of Barite

Color Colorless, white, light shades of blue, yellow, grey, brown
Streak White
Luster Vitreous, Pearly
Cleavage Perfect cleavage parallel to base and prism faces
Diaphaneity Transparent to opaque
Mohs Hardness 3-3.5
Specific Gravity 4.3–5
Diagnostic Properties white color, high specific gravity, characteristic cleavage and crystals
Crystal System Orthorhombic
Tenacity Brittle
Fracture Irregular/Uneven
Density 4.50 g/cm3 (Measured)    4.50 g/cm3 (Calculated)

Optical Properties of Barite

Barite Mineral PPL and XPL
Type Anisotropic
Color / Pleochroism Visible
Optic Sign Biaxial (+)
Birefringence δ = 0.012
Relief Moderate

Occurrence

A gangue mineral in low-temperature hydrothermal veins; in residual deposits from weathered barite-bearing limestones; an accessory mineral in igneous rocks; in carbonatites; a primary component of submarine volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits and sea-floor chimneys.

Uses Area

Barite is the main ore of the element barium. It is also important in the manufacture of paper and rubber. Barite is also used in radiology for x-rays of the digestive system. When crushed, it is added to mud to form barium mud, which is poured into oil wells during drilling. A rich, white pigment was once made from crushed Barite.

Barite is also a very popular and common mineral among collectors.

Distribution

The most common barium mineral; many localities, even for fine crystals. From Alston Moor, Frizington, Cleator Moor, and elsewhere in Cumbria, England. At Baia Sprie (Fels˝ob´anya) and Cavnic (Kapnikb´anya), Romania. From Pˇr´ıbram, Czech Republic. In Germany, from the Beihilfe mine, near Freiberg, and the P¨ohla mine, Schwarzemberg, Saxony; in the Clara mine, near Oberwolfach, Black Forest, and at many other places. In the Rock Candy mine, north of Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada. In the USA, from the Book Cliffs, near Grand Junction, Mesa Co., at Stoneham, Weld Co., in the Bulldog Mountain mine, Creede District, Mineral Co., and elsewhere in Colorado; at Elk Creek and Box Elder Creek, Meade and Pennington Cos., South Dakota; from Palos Verdes, Los Angeles Co., California; in the Magma mine, Superior, Gila Co., Arizona; very fine crystals from the Miekle mine, Elko Co., Nevada. At the El Solar mine, Taxco, Guerrero, Mexico. Immense crystals from the Elandsrand gold mine, Carletonville, South Africa.

References

Bonewitz, R. (2012). Rocks and minerals. 2nd ed. London: DK Publishing.

Handbookofmineralogy.org. (2019). Handbook of Mineralogy. [online] Available at: http://www.handbookofmineralogy.org [Accessed 4 Mar. 2019].

Mindat.org. (2019). Barite: Mineral information, data and localities. Available at: https://www.mindat.org/

Cite this article as: Geology Science. (2019). Barite. [online] Available at: http://geologyscience.com/minerals/barite/ [14th September 2019 ]
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