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Halite from Trona

Submit an Entry: My Sedimentary Rock

By Chuck Stewart

Halite from Trona

Pink halite from Searles Lake in Trona, CA.

Halite from Trona

Halite specimens in the back row of my rock cabinet.

Where This Rock Is From (place, type of locality, etc.)

This is a cluster of Halite crystams from the brine pools of Searles Lake in Trona, CA. It was gathered last October (2012) during the annual Gem-O-Rama, during which the Searles Valley Mineral Company allows collectors to dig for Halite, Hanksite, Trona, Borax and Sulfohalite.

What This Rock Is

This is classic "Salt" (NaCl) that grows in the smelly brine pools os Searles Lake. The pink color (it ranges from light pink to deep cranberry red) is caused by microscopic bacteria that live in the brine. They produce a red pigment similar to the beta-carotene that colors many red vegetables.

What I Like About This Rock

I love the beautiful shade of pink and the huge size of the crystals, some more than 1.5 inches across. The cubic shape of the crystals, caused by Halite's isometric crystal structure, is also pleasant to look at, especially when "hopper" crystals are present. These are formed when the outer layers of the cubic crystals grow faster than the inner layers, creating stepped sides on the crystals. It takes a while for the rancid odor of the brine in which it grows to dissipate, but the beauty of the resulting specimens makes it worthwhile.

Advice

  • I keep my "wet" halite specimens out in the usually warm warm garage for several months after digging them up. This lets them dry completely so the stench of the brine evaporates as well. Then they are displayed in drawers in one of two gorgeous cabinets purpose-built by my father. These Halite clusters are very brittle and should not be handled much or they tend to break up.

Andrew Alden, About.com Geology, says:

The annual Gem-O-Rama has been on my wish list for a long time! The closest I've gotten to Trona is the wonderful Trona Pinnacles. Thanks for the peek at your collection, too. I understand that storing halite specimens requires careful humidity control. You do NOT want to let that stuff get wet, or even start collecting moisture from the air.

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