What minerals produce the colors in fireworks?

Mineral elements provide the color in fireworks. Barium produces bright greens; strontium yields deep reds; copper produces blues; and sodium yields yellow. Other colors can be made by mixing elements: strontium and sodium produce brilliant orange; titanium, zirconium, and magnesium alloys make silvery white; copper and strontium make lavender. Gold sparks are produced by iron filings and small pieces of charcoal. Bright flashes and loud bangs come from aluminum powder.

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Does the USGS have reports on the background levels of elements in soils and other surficial materials?

The following USGS products will be helpful in determining the background levels of various elements in soils and other surficial materials: Geochemical and Mineralogical Data for Soils of the Conterminous United States (2013) Data for samples collected at three intervals (0-5 cm surficial soils, A-Horizon soils, and C-Horizon soils) across the...
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quartz albite zircon
April 12, 2016

Hammondville Quartz Albite Zircon

Zircon grains from a quartz-albite rock in Hammondville, NY. The grains were hand-picked from the rock, embedded in epoxy, ground to about half-thickness, and polished. Left: petrographic microscope transmitted light image showing cracks, inclusions, and age “zones” throughout the grains. Right: SEM (scanning electron microprobe) cathodoluminescence showing zones with

Image: Limonite at Saugus Iron Works
July 4, 2014

Limonite at Saugus Iron Works

A specimen of limonite, used in the iron smelting process. Limonite is a well-known iron ore that has been mined for iron for many thousands of years. At the Saugus Iron Works, the limonite was found in nearby bogs.

Image shows a detailed view of banded iron in rock
November 30, 2000

Minnesota Banded Iron

A banded iron formation in the Precambrian of Minnesota. Image by James St. John - Jaspilite banded iron formation (Soudan Iron-Formation, Neoarchean, ~2.69 Ga; Stuntz Bay Road outcrop, Soudan Underground State Park, Soudan, Minnesota, USA) 16, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=

Attribution: Energy and Minerals
Image: Celestite


Sample of celestite (strontium sulfate), principal source of strontium.

Image: Barite Rose

Barite Rose

Sample of the mineral barite (barium sulfate) . 

Image shows a sample of barite


Barite in drilling mud keeps oil and gas wells safe and efficient. Barite is also vital to the oil and gas industry because it is a key constituent of the mud used to drill oil and gas wells. Elemental barium is an additive in optical glass, ceramic glazes, and other products. Within the United States, the majority of barite comes from mines in Nevada. Imports in 2016