This report is a survey of present and potential production of monazite from part of the Maryland-Florida section of the Atlantic Coastal Plain.
The part of the Coastal Plain covered here is the outer (shore-ward) half. In this area, all the large heavy-mineral placers so far discovered occur in sand bodies that, by their shape, size, orientation, and lithology, appear to be ancient beaches, spits, bars, or dunes. Smaller placers have produced from recent shore-line features. The inner part of the Coastal Plain, to be treated in another report, is underlain generally by older rocks, ranging in age from Cretaceous to older Pleistocene.
Only two large heavy-mineral placers are now in production at Trail Ridge, and near Jacksonville, both in Florida. Production is planned for the near future near Yulee, Fla.: in Folkston, Ga.: and at one or two localities in eastern North Carolina. Each of these three will produce monazite as a byproduct; the total new reserve for the three placers is about 33,000 tons of monazite.
In large heavy-mineral placers of this type, monazite has not been found to run more than about 1 percent of total heavy minerals. In some large placers, notably Trail Ridge, it is almost or completely lacking. No reason for its sporadic occurrence has been found in this investigation.
Two placers of potential economic value have been found by this project in Virginia, one west and one east of Chesapeake Bay. Neither is of promise for monazite production, but if they serve to open up exploration or production in the area, there is a chance for monazite as a byproduct from other placers.
A discovery of considerable scientific interest has to do with the occurrence of two different suites of heavy minerals in the Coastal Plain, at least south of Virginia. One, an “older” suite, lacks epidote, hornblende, and garnet; this suite occurs in all older formations and in Pleistocene deposits lying above about 50 or 60 feet above sea level. The other, “younger” suite contains these three minerals: it is restricted to recent beaches and streams, and to Pleistocene deposits at low altitudes. Monazite may occur with either of these suites.
The percentage of titania (TiO2) in illmenite is of both scientific and economic interest. Illmenite is by far the most sought-for mineral in present exploration, and whether it contains the “normal” 53 percent of titania or, as it commonly does in Florida, 60 percent, is often of decisive importance in its exploitation. The nature, time, and place of this “enrichment” in titania has not been worked out.
The heavy-mineral industry of the area seems to give promise of considerable expansion in the near future, and a greater monazite production seems assured.