Orangey-brown barite on quartz

from the Xiefang mine, southeast Jiangxi, China.

close-up [509 kb]

Fig. 1: Barite, BaSO4, is a familiar industrial mineral, and one of the most abundant sulphates. This sample (1266.06 grams, 14x11x6 cm in size) displays innumerable tabular crystals of orangey barite, each 2 to 10 mm in maximum dimension, on a substrate of microgranular white quartz. It is from the Xiefang mine, Ruijin county, Ganzhou prefecture in southeast Jiangxi province, adjoining Fujian province in southeast China, south of the Yangtze river. According to MINDAT, the Xiefang mine works a 10-km long vein system. The mine is noted for producing rich green hues of fluorite (CaF2), as well as the toffee-coloured barite. These two minerals have reached collectors, especially the green fluorite (Polityka, 2016; Jones, 2017) but also the barite (Moore, 2016). Specimen from Bob Beckett.

"Rock of the Month # 228, posted for June 2020" ---

The most obvious hand-specimen property of barite is its density (S.G. circa 4.50). The principal uses of barite include drilling muds, fillers, high-density concrete, paints, and as the principal ore of barium, for additional uses in the chemical and medical fields.

Barite deposits include exhalative chemical sediments, as well as fracture controlled, replacement and manto deposits. Maynard and Okita (1991) divided bedded barite deposits into (1) the continental margin type, with examples in Arkansas and Nevada, and (2) the cratonic rift setting, including the Meggen and Rammelsberg deposits in Germany and the Howard's Pass deposits in the Yukon. Bedded barites are generally grey to black because of included organic matter (Orris, 1985), as in the case of the Mangampeta deposits of India, in which the barite is dark grey with a foetid odour. Similar deposits, of similar (lower Paleozoic) age are widespread in Nevada (Papke, 1984). In form, Orris (1985) recognized three classes, namely veins and cavity fillings, residual deposits, and bedded deposits (the latter may be syngenetic or epigenetic). Bedded deposits may be hosted by shales, as in Alaska (Schmidt, 1997). Barite and witherite (BaCO3) deposits in south China are also in lower Cambrian black shales, which cover an area of about 1 million km2 (Wang and Li, 1991). The Chinese Ba deposits are usually underlain by beds with phosphatic concretions and overlain by black shales. The C in Ba carbonate is mostly from an organic source, probably derived from organic matter decomposition in early diagenesis.

In one mode of occurrence, barite is present in Mississippi Valley –type (MVT) lead-zinc deposits –MVTs, often as banded deposits of barite with carbonates, fluorite or sulphides. Barite is present in the fluorite district of Illinois, and in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas (Zimmermann and Amstutz, 1983).

The USA was the main global producer of barite for four decades, but by 1990 had been overtaken by China, followed by Russia / USSR and Mexico (Clark et al., 1990). Barite deposits in Canada include those in Nova Scotia (Boyle, 1971), British Columbia (Butrenchuk and Hancock, 1997) and other provinces.

References (n=12)

Boyle,RW (1971) The Geology, Geochemistry, and Origin of the Barite, Manganese, and Lead- Zinc- Copper- Silver Deposits of the Walton Cheverie Area, Nova Scotia. GSC Bull. 166, 181pp. plus 13 maps and figures. (1971).

Butrenchuk,SB and Hancock,KD (1997) Barite in British Columbia. BC MEMPR OFR 1997-16, 145pp.

Clark,SHB, Gallagher,MJ and Poole,FG (1990) World barite resources: a review of recent production patterns and a genetic classification. TIMM B 99, 125-132.

Jones,B (2017) Grand opening of the David Friend Mineral Hall, Yale Peabody Museum. Mineral.Record 48 no.1, 138-141, January. 2017).

Maynard,JB and Okita,PM (1991) Bedded barite deposits in the United States, Canada, Germany, and China: two major types based on tectonic setting. Econ.Geol. 86, 364-376.

Moore,TP (2016) Tucson show 2016. Mineral.Record 47 no.3, 339-368, May.

Orris,GJ (1985) Bedded/stratiform barite deposits: geologic and grade tonnage data including a partial bibliography. USGS OFR 85-447, 32pp.

Papke,KG (1984) Barite in Nevada. Nev.Bur.Min.Geol.Bull. 98, 125pp.

Polityka,J (organizer) (2016) Mineral Collections in the American Northeast. Mineral.Record 47 no.4, supplement, 460pp., July.

Schmidt,JM (1997) Shale hosted Zn- Pb- Ag and barite deposits of Alaska. In `Mineral Deposits of Alaska' (Goldfarb,RJ and Miller,LD editors), Econ.Geol. Monograph 9, 482pp., 35-65.

Wang,Z and Li,G (1991) Barite and witherite deposits in Lower Cambrian shales of South China: stratigraphic distribution and geochemical characterization. Econ.Geol. 86, 354-363.

Zimmermann,RA and Amstutz,GC (1983) Barite, its place and role in Mississippi Valley Type deposits. In Proc.Internatl.Conf. on Mississippi Valley Type Lead Zinc Deposits (Kisvarsanyi,G, Grant,SK, Pratt,WP and Koenig,JW, editors), Univ. of Missouri Rolla, 603pp., 279-288.

Graham Wilson, 19 March 2020.

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(specimens related to China, and Beijing, appear below).
Provenance of specimens:
CAGS = China Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing
CUGB = China University of Geosciences, Beijing (Grounds and Yifu Museum)
NGMC = National Geological Museum of China, Beijing
TGSL = Turnstone / Wilson collection
Various = Other private collections
YMY = Yuanmingyuan, Old Summer Palace, Beijing

Class/Group/Family Topics in China --- 中国 (Zhong guo) --- such as samples in Beijing museums Site
The "Rock of the Month"
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Arsenic ore minerals --- #180 --- Arsenic sulphides, realgar and orpiment, from (?) Hunan, China CUGB
Superb crinoid fossils --- #181 --- Traumatocrinus, exceptional crinoid fossil from Guizhou, China NGMC
Beryl, beryllium cyclosilicate, gemstone --- #186 --- Prismatic beryl from (?) Yunnan, China CUGB
Vertebrate fossil, historically significant --- #201 --- Mesosaurus, fossil reptile & mascot for Gondwanaland (Brazil, via Guangxi, China) CUGB
Ornamental carving stone, China --- #203 --- Qingtian stone, superb lapidary material from Zhejiang, China CUGB
Ophiolitic chromitite --- #205 --- Chromitite, Luobusa ophiolite, southern Tibet (Xizang, China) CAGS
Nephrite jade --- #207 --- Massive jade as decorative piece, from China Various
Peridotite xenoliths in basalt --- #217 --- Mantle nodules and megacrysts, Hebei, China TGSL / CAGS
Tempestite dolostone of Jixian age --- #219 --- Tempestite with algal mats, Tianjin, China CUGB / YMY
Foraminifera from Java, Indonesia --- #226 --- Nummulite fossil Camerina CUGB
Orange barite on quartz --- #228 --- Barite, Xiefang mine, Jiangxi province, China TGSL