Robert Virta, mineral commodity specialist for the U.S. Geological Survey, prepared the following information about the zeolite industry. Volcanic rocks containing natural zeolites — hydrated aluminosilicate minerals that contain alkaline and alkaline-earth metals — have been mined worldwide for more than 1,000 years for use as cements and building stone. For centuries, people thought natural zeolites occurred only in small amounts inside cavities of volcanic rock. But in the 1950s and early 1960s, large zeolite deposits were discovered in volcanic tuffs in the western United States and in marine tuffs in Italy and Japan. And since then, similar deposits have been found around the world, from Hungary to Cuba to New Zealand. The discovery of these larger deposits made commercial mining of natural zeolite possible.
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Mineral resource of the month: natural and synthetic zeolites