Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


By: Ben Elick

Physical Properties
Chemistry: BaSO4
Composition: Barium sulfate
Group: Barite
Crystal system: Orthorhombic  
Crystal Structure: Tabular crystals
Fracture: Uneven  
Hardness: 3 to 3.5
Specific gravity: 4.3-5
Streak: White
Color: Clear, bluish, yellow, brown, reddish
Luster: Vitreous
Cleavage: Perfect basal and prismatic

A Barite Haiku
Being somewhat soft
Varieties can fluoresce
It’s orthorhombic

Barite, which is the acceptable spelling of this mineral in the United States, but spelled “baryte” in the UK, is an interesting mineral. It is appealing to the eye and is featured in rock shops and museums. Barite is the ore of barium metal.

Barite has several practical uses. In the petroleum industry, it is crushed and used as an additive to mud that is poured into wells to support the weight of drilling tools and to flush away rock chips from the drill head and bring them to the surface for geologists to inspect. Barite’s high specific gravity also helps by increasing the pressure when drilling through high-pressure zones of rock. Barium is used in aggregates to make a strong cement. Barite is commonly ground up and used as a filler in paper, paint, cosmetics, linoleum, and other industrial products. Barite increases the brilliance of glass. Barium also used a medical application with X-rays and diagnosing certain medical conditions.

This mineral can occur in a broad range of colors. These include colorless, blue, yellow, red, and green. Black barite, which is colored by inclusions, is uncommon. Some varieties even fluoresce under ultraviolet light. Another property is that barite is mostly insoluble in all acids. It is slightly soluble in sulfuric acid.

Barite can occur with lead, silver, and antimony sulfides in hydrothermal veins ranging from medium to low temperatures. 

This piece of blue barite has small interweaving crystals 
and was collected on the plains near Hartsel Colorado USA. 
A Ben Elick specimen, photo by Ben Elick.

This chunk of yellow barite’s crystals are connected by the bond of the crystals 
plus some white calcite. This specimen was collected on the 
plains near Hartsel Colorado USA. A Ben Elick specimen, photo by Ben Elick.

About the author: Ben Elick is in the 6th grade and has been a member of the Pikes Peak Pebble Pups for several years.

Welcome! This is the gateway to adventure and discovery

Through this blog pebble pups and junior members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society can access their lessons, work on assignments and projects, and receive details about field trips in the Pikes Peak Region. This Internet program is also suitable for young people who are interested in Earth science but do not live near a rock club or gem and mineral society or for young people anywhere who want a deeper dive into these topics. The only requirement is that all participants must be members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society and must fill out the CSMS membership form (under important websites) and send their registration and membership fee in. Steven Veatch is the senior instructor and will need an email from you with your name, address, phone number, and permission from your parents to participate in this program.