Physical properties of evaporite minerals

Trace Elements Investigations 821
Prepared on behalf of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission



The data in the following tables were abstracted from measurements of physical properties of evaporite minerals or of equivalent synthetic compounds. The compounds considered are the halide and sulfate salts which supposedly precipitated from evaporating ocean water and which form very extensive and thick "rock salt" beds. These beds are composed almost entirely of NaCl. In places where the beds are deeply buried and where fractures occur in the overlying rocks, the salt is plastically extruded upward as in a pipe to form the "salt domes".

Most of the tables are for NaCl, both the natural (halite) and the synthetic salt, polycrystalline and single crystals. These measurements have been collected for use 1) in studies on storage of radioactive wastes in salt domes or beds, 2) in calculations concerned with nuclear tests in salt domes and beds, and 3) in studies of phenomena in salt of geologic interest.

Rather than an exhaustive compilation of physical property measurements, there tables represent a summary of data from accessible sources. As limitations of time have presented making a more systematic and comprehensive selection, the data given may seem arbitrarily chosen. Some of the data listed are old, and newer, more accurate data are undoubtedly available.

Halite (an synthetic NaCl) has been very thoroughly studied because of its relatively simple and highly symmetrical crystal structure, its easy availability naturally or synthetically, both in single crystals and polycrystalline, its useful and scientifically interesting properties, and its role as a compound of almost purely ionic bonding. The measurements of NaCl in the tables, however, represent only a small part of the total number of observations; discrimination was necessary to keep the size of the tabulations manageable. The physical properties of the evaporite minerals other than halite and sylvite have received only desultory attention of experiementalists, and appear in only a few tables.

The effects of temperature, hydrostatic pressure, stress difference, and other mechanical, eletrical, and optical conditions on the physical properties have probably been observed more completely on NaCl than on any other solid substance, which makes it a unique and important substance. Several new and important phenomena have been observed first on it. The mechanical properties of NaCl, for example, depend very strongly on the condition and the composition of the gas or liquid in contact with the sample surface; the data are sparse as yet and are not reported here.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Physical properties of evaporite minerals
Series title Trace Elements Investigations
Series number 821
DOI 10.3133/tei821
Year Published 1962
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description 90 p.
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