About the blog: What Things Are Made Of
AMERICA'S GLOBAL DEPENDENCY FOR NEARLY EVERYTHING
Friday, January 15, 2010
You've got gypsum!
Gypsum (chemically, calcium sulfate) crystallizes from supersaturated sea or lake water when the water evaporates, much like common salt precipitates from such water. In the United States, Oklahoma is the leading producer of gypsum—nearly 3,500,000 tons of it, worth more than $26 million in 2007.
In Oklahoma’s Blaine Formation four to six gypsum layers, each as much as 10 feet thick, separate thin red shale beds. Shale solidifies from mud, and its red color reflects exposure to the atmosphere as evaporation proceeded: the iron in the mud oxidized to hematite—red iron oxide, essentially rust.
In today’s arid Oklahoma, when groundwater dissolves ancient gypsum and re-deposits it, beautiful crystals form. Oklahoma’s official state crystal is selenite, a type of gypsum found most notably at Great Salt Plains State Park near Jet, a town in northwestern Oklahoma.
After Oklahoma, U.S. gypsum production leaders are Arkansas, Iowa, California, Nevada, Texas, Indiana, and Michigan. But our total, nearly 13 million tons a year, can’t satisfy U.S. wallboard demand. Imports, mostly from Canada, Mexico, and Spain, account for more than 25% of US gypsum consumption. As with so many minerals, China leads the world with gypsum production more than triple that of the United States.
Based on What Things Are Made Of, Chapter 1: All The Ships of the World.
Public domain gypsum image via Wikipedia.