Origin of Ancient Potash Evaporites: Clues from the Modem Nonmarine Qaidam Basin of Western China

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Science  08 Sep 1989:
Vol. 245, Issue 4922, pp. 1090-1092
DOI: 10.1126/science.245.4922.1090


Modern potash salt deposits and associated brines of the Qaidam Basin, western China, demonstrate that some anomalous marine evaporites may have formed from nonmarine brines instead of seawater. Qaidam Basin brines are derived from meteoric river inflow mixed with small amounts of CaCl spring inflow similar in composition to many saline formation waters and hydrothermal brines. Evaporation of springenriched inflow yields a predicted mineral sequence including carnallite, bischofite, and tachyhydrite that is identical to several anomalous marine evaporites. Other mixtures of river and spring inflow produce the salt assemblage expected from evaporation of seawater.

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