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Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–S

Prepared in cooperation with the Saskatchewan Geological Survey, the Polish Geological Institute, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, the Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières, the Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschften und Rohstoffe, and the Coordinating Committee for Geoscience Programmes in East and Southeast Asia

Potash—A Global Overview of Evaporite-Related Potash Resources, Including Spatial Databases of Deposits, Occurrences, and Permissive Tracts

By Greta J. Orris, Mark D. Cocker, Pamela Dunlap, Jeff Wynn, Gregory T. Spanski, Deborah A. Briggs, and Leila Gass with contributions from James D. Bliss, Karen S. Bolm, Chao Yang, Bruce R. Lipin, Steve Ludington, Robert J. Miller, and Miroslaw Slowakiewicz

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (7.9 MB)Abstract

Potash is mined worldwide to provide potassium, an essential nutrient for food crops. Evaporite-hosted potash deposits are the largest source of salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form, including potassium chloride, potassium-magnesium chloride, potassium sulfate, and potassium nitrate. Thick sections of evaporitic salt that form laterally continuous strata in sedimentary evaporite basins are the most common host for stratabound and halokinetic potash-bearing salt deposits. Potash-bearing basins may host tens of millions to more than 100 billion metric tons of potassium oxide (K2O). Examples of these deposits include those in the Elk Point Basin in Canada, the Pripyat Basin in Belarus, the Solikamsk Basin in Russia, and the Zechstein Basin in Germany.

This report describes a global, evaporite-related potash deposits and occurrences database and a potash tracts database. Chapter 1 summarizes potash resource history and use. Chapter 2 describes a global potash deposits and occurrences database, which contains more than 900 site records. Chapter 3 describes a potash tracts database, which contains 84 tracts with geology permissive for the presence of evaporite-hosted potash resources, including areas with active evaporite-related potash production, areas with known mineralization that has not been quantified or exploited, and areas with potential for undiscovered potash resources. Chapter 4 describes geographic information system (GIS) data files that include (1) potash deposits and occurrences data, (2) potash tract data, (3) reference databases for potash deposit and tract data, and (4) representative graphics of geologic features related to potash tracts and deposits. Summary descriptive models for stratabound potash-bearing salt and halokinetic potash-bearing salt are included in appendixes A and B, respectively. A glossary of salt- and potash-related terms is contained in appendix C and a list of database abbreviations is given in appendix D. Appendix E describes GIS data files, and appendix F is a guide to using the geodatabase.

First posted December 6, 2014

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Suggested citation:

Orris, G.J., Cocker, M.D., Dunlap, P., Wynn, Jeff, Spanski, G.T., Briggs, D.A., and Gass, L., with contributions from Bliss, J.D., Bolm, K.S., Yang, C., Lipin, B.R., Ludington, S., Miller, R.J., and Slowakiewicz, M., 2014, Potash—A global overview of evaporite-related potash resources, including spatial databases of deposits, occurrences, and permissive tracts: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–S, 76 p., and spatial data,

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)



Potash—Uses, Active Mines, and Recent Exploration

Potash Deposits and Occurrences in Evaporite Settings of the World

Potash Assessment Tracts

Spatial Databases for Evaporite-Related Potash Deposits, Occurrences, and Permissive Tracts Around the World


References Cited

Appendixes A-F



GIS data

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