An aid to labeling display quality barite specimens
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Click picture to enlarge. Unless noted all specimens are from Bill & Diana Dameron’s barite suite.
Mashamba West mine, Haut-Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo
This reference attempts to provide accurate locality data with descriptions and pictures to aid correct labeling of specimens. Localities with only micromount, thumbnail and primarily unattractive barite specimens are largely omitted.
Current geographical names are used when possible. Locality information is (untraditionally) listed from largest to smallest, i.e. in the U.S. first the state, then county, nearby city and mine, making it easier to arrange and group localities.
Unless otherwise noted all specimens are from Bill & Diana Dameron’s barite suite and all photos are by Bill Dameron. They are mostly quick shots without elaborate lighting. Italics indicate localities not yet represented in the collection. There were about 585 photos on the site as of August, 2012, of which some 500 were from Bill & Diana's collection.
There are many sources for accurate locality data, although even highly respected web sites have some errors not apparent to non-barite aficionados. By far the most useful is MinDat. Please join (free) and use MinDat! See Links & Sources for additional information. THANK YOU to the many collectors, curators and dealers who have helped!Contact
Contributions and suggested corrections are welcome, as are high quality JPG pictures. Please e-mail me at baritebill at comcast dot net, without any JPEG attachment (this to reduce spam). I will open attachments if we are already friends or after we have established contact.
Barite (barium sulfate, BaSO4). Barium is heavy (element 58) and barium sulfate (specific gravity 4.3-4.6) is also relatively chemically inert. It is common, especially massive barite, and is a gangue mineral in many metallic deposits. It crystalizes in the orthorhombic system (three axes all at 90 degrees but of differing lengths). It is easily cleaved and thus fragile, and occurs in many colors and crystal habits, making it a favorite of mineral specimen collectors.
Some 83% of the barite mined in the world (much of it in China) is used in the oil drilling industry, but the average person usually encounters barite as a barium enema. Barium is an X-ray absorber and appears white on X-ray film. When instilled into the lower end of the GI tract or into the esophagus barium coats the inside wall of the esophagus, stomach, large intestine, and/or small intestine so that the inside wall lining, size, shape, contour, and patency (openness) are visible on X-ray. This process shows differences that might not be seen on standard X-rays.
Drilling "muds" are heavy and pumped down the drill stem. They exit at the cutting bit and return to the surface between the drill stem and the wall of the well. This flow keeps the pressure at a level to prevent blowouts. It also cools the drill bit and conveys the rock cuttungs up to the surface. Since barite is very heavy and does not easily react chemically it is very useful for this purpose.
In English there are two spellings; baryte is used in the UK. A committee of the International Mineralogical Association sets the standard for mineral nomenclature. IMA originally (1959) used barite; in 1971 it "recommended:” use "Baryte, not barite, barytine, barytite, or schwerspath.” The recommendation was not immediately adopted; barite continued in general use. In 2008 the IMA changed to permit two variations: baryte (barite), with the historical British spelling listed first. It derives from the Greek word for “heavy.” The word barytes (plural) is sometimes used in the UK informally for specimens but that is primarily a commercial term.
- MR – the Mineralogical Record
- R&M – Rocks & Mineral
- Seaman Museum – A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum, Houghton, Michigan
- LRM – le Règne Minéral
- UKJMM – UK Journal of Mines and Minerals
- AMNH – American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York
- NMNH – U.S. National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian), Washington, DC
- CSM – Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado
- Hun. Nat. Hist. Mus. – Hungarian Natural History Museum Budapest
- Herman Ottó Museum – Herman Ottó Museum, Miskolc, Hungary
- BMNH – British Museum of Natural History, London
- Hunterian M&AG – Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, Glasgow
- Edinburgh, NMS – Royal Museum, National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh
- Co. – ( U.S. ) County
- cm – centimeter(s)
- Rice Museum – Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks & Minerals, Hillsboro, Oregon
- Barcelona Museum of Geology – MGB
Last updated October 23, 2014
BARITE SPECIMEN LOCALITIES
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