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Sharp Colorless Barite Crystals

The Mineral barite




Barite is well-known for its great range of colors and varied crystal forms and habits. It is an immensely popular mineral among collectors. Barite is easily identifiable by its heavy weight, since most similar minerals are much lighter. Barite often replaces other minerals, and may even replace organic materials such as wood, shells, and fossils. It sometimes forms tufacious mounds from deposition of hot, barium-rich springs.

Controversy exists in regards to the spelling of Barite. For the last 100 years or so, this mineral has always been spelled "Barite" in the United States. In the United Kingdom, the spelling has traditionally been "Baryte". The IMA has recently changed the official spelling from "Barite" to "Baryte", and this has been a very controversial move, with many questioning the IMA's logic behind this change. Most U.S. mineral collectors and mineralogists still prefer the spelling Barite, and we reflect that spelling here in this guide as well.

Barite specimens from certain locations are brown from sand inclusions, and may occur in beautiful rosette aggregates that strikingly resemble a flower. These are known as Barite "Desert Roses". The mineral Gypsum also contains similar Desert Roses, but the Gypsum roses are much light in weight, and are more brittle and thin.

Barite is isomorphous and very similar in form with the mineral Celestine, and may partially replace it.
Chemical Formula BaSO4
Composition Barium sulfate, sometimes with small amounts of strontium
Variable Formula (Ba,Sr)SO4
Color Colorless, white, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, brown, blue, geen, gray, and black. May also be multicolored and banded.
Streak White
Hardness 3 - 3.5
Crystal System Orthorhombic
3D Crystal Atlas
(Click for animated model) 
Crystal Forms
and Aggregates
Crystals are tabular, prismatic, and as grainy, platy, and coxcomb aggregates. Individual crystals are often twinned, and can be quite large. May also be massive, nodular, fibrous, stalactitic, and as perfect rosettes. Crystals may occassionally contain phantom growths.
Transparency Transparent to opaque
Specific Gravity 4.3 - 4.6
Luster Vitreous to pearly
Cleavage 1,1 - basal ; 2,1 - prismatic ; 3,1 - pinacoidal
Fracture Uneven
Tenacity Brittle
Other ID Marks Commonly fluorescent in a variety of colors; sometimes also phosphorescent.
In Group Sulfates; Anhydrous Sulfates
Striking Features Heaviness, hardness, and crystal habits
Environment In sedimentary rock layers and in hydrothermal and mesothermal metal ore veins. Rarely in altered basalts.
Rock Type Sedimentary, Metamorphic
Popularity (1-4) 2
Prevalence (1-3) 1
Demand (1-3) 1

Barite ON EBAY
OTHER NAMES
Baryte
Heavy Spar

VARIETIES
 -  Nodular, radiating, or massive Barite from Bologna, Italy, that is phosphorescent.
 -  Rosette shaped Barite or rosette shaped Gypsum with sand inclusions.

USES
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.

NOTEWORTHY LOCALITIES
Barite is a very common mineral and is found in thousands of localities. Only a few of the most classic occurrences are mentioned here. Excellent European Barite comes from Frizington, Cumbria, England; Les Malines, Gard, France; Villamassargia, Sardinia, Italy (orange-yellow Barite), and Kapnick and Baia Sprie in Mamarues Co., Romania. Famed international localities include Jinkouhe, Ebian, Sichuan Province, China; Khenifra, Mibladen, Morocco; and Huarihuyn, Huanuco, Peru.

In the U.S., deep honey-colored tall Barite crystals come from Elk Creek, Meade County, South Dakota.  It is found with Fluorite in Cave In Rock, Hardin Co., Illinois. Bright yellow clusters come from the Meikle Mine, Elko Co., Nevada. Colorado has some of the finest localities for Barite, including Stoneham, Weld Co. (prismatic blue); the Sherman Mine; Leadville District, Lake Co. (tabular yellow); Muddy Creek, Rio Grande Co. (tabular blue-gray); and the Book Cliffs, Grand Junction, Mesa Co. (colorless and water clear).

Other well-known U.S. Barite localities are Palos Verdes Hills, Los Angeles Co., California; the Magma Mine, Pinal Co., Arizona; and the Linwood Quarry, Buffalo, Scott Co., Iowa. Perfect Barite "Desert Roses" have come from the area of Norman, Cleveland Co., Oklahoma. In Canada, a famous mine is the Rock Candy mine, near Grand Forks, British Columbia, which produced bright yellow tabular crystals.

COMMON MINERAL ASSOCIATIONS
Calcite, Fluorite, Aragonite, Chalcopyrite, Gypsum, Dolomite, Quartz, Apatite, Sulfur

DISTINGUISHING SIMILAR MINERALS
Celestine - Very difficult to distinguish by appearance alone, although lighter in weight (3.0 - 3.5).
Calcite - Has perfect rhombohedral cleavage, lighter in weight (2.7), and effervesces in hydrochloric acid.
Fluorite - Forms isometric crystals, lighter in weight (3.0 - 3.3).
Feldspars - Much harder (6), lighter in weight.
Anglesite - Has an adamantine luster.


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