Barite thumbnail mineral, Arizona.
Barite, also known as baryte, is a sulfate mineral composed of barium sulfate (BaSO4). It commonly crystallizes in the orthorhombic crystal system and is renowned for its high specific gravity, making it a heavy mineral. Barite is often colorless or white, but it can also appear in various shades of blue, green, yellow, brown, or red, depending on impurities.
Thumbnail specimens of barite are small-sized samples that showcase the unique crystal formations of this mineral. These specimens, typically measuring only a few centimeters in size, are highly valued by mineral collectors for their aesthetic appeal and the diversity of crystal habits. Barite crystals can form tabular, prismatic, or bladed structures, and they often exhibit well-defined faces and edges.
Barite is commonly found in sedimentary rocks, especially in association with lead-zinc ores, fluorite, and other minerals. It can also occur in hydrothermal veins and as a gangue mineral in various ore deposits. The mineral has economic significance as a source of barium, used in various industrial applications, including drilling muds in the oil and gas industry, as well as in the production of barium compounds.
The beauty of barite thumbnails lies in the intricate and delicate crystal structures that they display. Collectors are drawn to the diversity of colors and formations, and the small size of the specimens makes them convenient for display in mineral collections. However, due to the relative softness of barite, care should be taken to avoid scratching or damaging the crystal surfaces when handling these thumbnails.