Shifts in world barite production since the 1980s have resulted in China becoming the world's largest barite-producing country followed by the US and India. Most barite produced for use in drilling fluids is derived from black shale- and chert-hosted, stratiform marine deposits. In China, Late Proterozoic to Early Cambrian marine barite deposits occur on the oceanic margins of the Yangtze platform, in the Qinling region in the north and the Jiangnan region in the south. Most US ore-grade deposits are in the Nevada barite belt; most commercial deposits occur in Ordovician and Devonian marine rocks along the western margin of the early Paleozoic North American continent. Production in India is predominantly from a single Middle Proterozoic deposit in a sedimentary basin located on Archean basement in Andrah Pradesh.The geologic and geochemical characteristics of the deposits are consistent with origins from a variety of sedimentary-exhalative processes, with biogenic processes contributing to the concentration of some seafloor barite. Linear distributions of clusters of lenticular deposits suggest a geographic relationship to syndepositional seafloor fault zones. Sulfur isotope data of the barite deposits range from values that are similar to coeval seawater sulfate to significantly higher ??34S values. Strontium isotope values of continental-margin-type deposits in Nevada and China are less radiogenic than those of cratonic-rift deposits (e.g. Meggen and Rammelsberg). Comparison of Lan/ Cen ratios of barite in the Qinling region of China with marine chert ratios suggests a relationship to hydrothermal fluids, whereas ratios from the Jiangnan region and Nevada can be interpreted as reflecting a biogenic influence.The California Borderland provides a potential modern analog where hydrothermal barium is being deposited on the seafloor in fault-block-bounded basins. Anoxic to dysaerobic conditions on some marine basin floors result from upwelling, nutrient-rich currents and high productivity in surface waters. In this setting, biogenic processes could contribute to the concentration of barium from hydrothermal sources. ?? 2003 Published by Elsevier B.V.