Controls on barite crystal morphology during abiotic precipitation

Inoka H. Widanagamage, Allison R. Waldron, Mihaela Glamoclija

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13 Scopus citations


Barite (BaSO4) is a stable and widely distributed mineral in Earth’s crust. As such, barite has the potential to preserve specific geochemical and morphological characteristics representative of conditions at the time of its formation, which could be useful for interpretations of Earth’s ancient rocks and paleoenvironments. In this study, we used variations in saturation index, solution temperature, solution chemistry, presence of organics, and Mg2+ and Ca2+ ions to investigate variations in barite crystal morphology. Through 42 experiments, we simulated poorly understood, low temperature spring settings similar to Zodletone Spring in Anadarko Basin, Oklahoma. Using SEM/EDS, we identified barite rosettes, rounded barite, euhedral/square-shaped barite, and elliptical barite as the crystal morphologies that directly reflect different formational settings. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) patterns revealed different crystallographic characters of the four distinct barite crystal morphologies; in particular, the samples that precipitated from supersaturated SrSO4 solution exhibited double peaks at 43° 2-Theta, which matched barite with strontium substitution as barite might have incorporated strontium in its structure. Barite crystals that formed in the presence of organics in the initial solution exhibited a double peak at 33° 2-Theta, which was absent in other samples. Confocal Raman microscopy indicated that all of the samples had typical barium sulfate bands, with a few differences in bands between the samples; for example, the 638 cm−1 band showed splitting or a double band between different samples. The samples that precipitated from solution with organics had organic compounds from the experimental solution included in their composition. In both cases, C–H stretches from 2800 cm−1 to 3000 cm−1 were present as well as bands from 1350 cm−1 to 1500 cm−1, which are typical of organic compounds. Based on our experiments, the variation in barite crystal morphologies reflected changes in initial solution chemistry (or environmental settings).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number480
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


  • Barite
  • Crystallography
  • Experimental
  • Precipitation
  • Proxy


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