Barite

Barite

Barite
 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Composition: Barium sulfate (BaSO4)

Mineral Description:
Color: Colorless to white, yellow, brown, dark brown, reddish, gray
Streak: White
Luster: Vitreous, pearly, resinous
Hardness: 3 - 3.5
Tenacity: Brittle
Specific Gravity: 4.50
Cleavage: Perfect, one direction; good in a second; distinct in a third

Crystallography:
System: Orthorhombic
Twinning: Rare
Habit: Crystals are thin to thick tabular, short to long prismatic, and equant. Aggregates are rosettes, massive, cryptocrystalline to granular, lamellar, stalactitic, concretionary, columnar to fibrous, and earthy.

General Information:
Barite is a heavy white or light-colored mineral composed of barium, sulfur, and oxygen. It is a relatively soft mineral, so that it can be scratched with a copper penny, but not with the fingernail. The crystals are tabular and have three perfect cleavage directions that yield tablet- shaped fragments when crushed. However, most barite is too fine- grained for crystals or cleavage to be observed without the aid of a microscope. Fine-grained aggregates of barite may appear similar to limestone or quartz, but the high specific gravity readily distinguishes it from these and other similar-appearing rocks and minerals. This quality can easily be detected by hefting the specimen and comparing its apparent weight with that of a specimen of limestone, calcite, or quartz of similar size. Barite is commonly found in veins containing metallic minerals, such as ores of silver, lead, and copper. It also occurs as veins and masses of pure barite, especially associated with limestone. The principal commercial use of barite employs its high specific gravity. The mineral is finely ground and added to oil well drilling mud to increase the weight of the mud in order to confine gas pressures en- countered in drilling. It is also used in the paint industry and in several other industrial applications. Barite has been mined at a number of widelv distributed localities in California.
If you pick up a sample of barite, you will be surprised at how heavy it feels. It is heavier than some metallic minerals and is the petrifying mineral in some fossils. Some varieties exhibit fluorescent and phosphorescent properties. Name is derived from the Greek word barys, meaning heavy, in reference to its high specific gravity.

California Counties in Which this Mineral is Found
 

Alameda
Alpine
Butte
Calaveras
Contra Costa
El Dorado
Fresno
Humboldt
Imperial
 
Inyo
Kern
Los Angeles
Mariposa
Mono
Monterey
Napa
Nevada
Orange
 
Placer
Plumas
Riverside
San Benito
San Bernardino
San Francisco
San Luis Obispo
Santa Barbara
Santa Clara
 
Shasta
Siskiyou
Sonoma
Trinity
Tulare
Tuolumne
 
 

Information on Specimen Photo:
Description: Barite, Palos Verde, Los Angeles County. California State Mining and Mineral Museum.
Photographer: Jeff Scovill