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The relationship of the rare-earth composition of minerals to geological environment

January 1, 1969

It has been known for a long time that the composition of the lanthanides in minerals is controlled to a large degree by crystallo-chemical factors, but is also greatly influenced by changes in geological environment. In general, igneous rocks rich in silica are favourable for the concentration of the heavy lanthanides and yttrium; those low in silica and high in carbonate are favourable for the concentration of the light lanthanides.

These generalizations are illustrated by summaries of the available data on monazite, sphene, and apatite from different geological environments. Apatite of marine sedimentary origin (a large potential source of rare earths) shows marked depletion of cerium, as has been noted previously for sea water.