The scientific tourist #175 — “desert rose” barite

Seen at the University of Denver’s Olin Hall, here’s a nice specimen of “desert rose” barite:

Barite is a fairly common mineral, being just barium sulfate. In dry sandy areas, though, barite can take an interesting form when it crystalizes — for instance, when a shallow salt basin evaporates. In these cases, not only can the barite crystals form in a rosette shape, but they can also incorporate some of the surrounding sand into the crystal structure — forming a “desert rose.”

Despite barite’s ubiquity, desert rose barite is found in only a few places around the globe. Oklahoma is one of those places, and since the local red soil colors has colored its desert roses a ruddy hue, desert rose barite was named the official state rock of Oklahoma.

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