Assessment tract permissive of potash-bearing brine in China

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Geologic information

Deposit typepotash-bearing brine
Evaporite basinQinghai
Basin typecontinental closed basin
Geologic unitnot identified
Tectonic settingcraton
Potassium minerals:
Notes:Quaternary alluvial, lacustrine- and playa-related sediments of the Qaidam Basin likely to contain or be underlain by potash-bearing surface and subsurface brines.

Economic information

Known K sites?Yes
Identified resources?Yes
Feature typeunit
Quality of informationC: Commonly less than twenty sources of information are available, and detailed information is limited or much of the information is not tied to specific location.
Assessment year2011
Assessment depth3km
AssessorsGreta J. Orris (USGS)
Qualitative assessmentR1: Tract contains known economic reserves, and at least some of the undiscovered resources are believed to be economic.
Tract delineationThe Qaidam tract consists of the part of the Qaidam Basin that may be underlain by potash-bearing brines. The tract was defined by Neogene to Quaternary alluvial, lacustrine and saline sediments as identified on a 1:1,000,000-scale geologic map of the Qinghai Province (Qinghai Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, 1991) and a figure showing the distribution of salt lakes in the Qaidam Basin (Chen and Bowler, 1986).

Reference information

Nearby dataChina
Casas, Enrique, Lowenstein, T.K., Spencer, R.J., and Zhang, Pengxi, 1992, Carnallite mineralization in the nonmarine, Qaidam Basin, China; Evidence for the early diagenetic origin of potash evaporites: Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 62, p. 881-898.
Chen Kezao, and Bowler, J.M., 1986, Late Pleistocene evolution of salt lakes in the Qaidam Basin, Qinghai Province, China: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 54, p. 87-104.
Duan Zhenhao, and Hu Wenxuan, 2001, The accumulation of potash in a continental basin; The example of the Qarhan Saline Lake, Qaidam Basin, West China: European Journal Mineral., v. 13, p. 1223-1233.
Gao Shiyang, Yang Zhengdao, and Huang Shijiang, 1993, Recovery of Na2SO4, K2SO4, boric acid and lithium salt from Da Chaidan Salt Lake brine, in Kakihana, H., Hardy, H.R., Jr., Hoshi, T., and Toyokura, K., eds., Seventh symposium on salt: New York, Elsevier, Seventh Symposium on Salt, Kyoto, April 6-9, 1992 [Proceedings], v. 1, p. 555-560.
Lowenstein, T.K., and Risacher, Francois, 2009, Closed basin brine evolution and the influence of Ca-Cl inflow waters; Death Valley and Bristol Dry Lake, California, Qaidam Basin, China, and Salar de Atacama, Chile: Aquatic Geochemistry, v. 15, p. 71-94.
Lowenstein, T.K., Spencer, R.J., and Zhang Pengxi, 1989, Origin of ancient potash evaporites; Clues from the modern nonmarine Qaidam Basin of western China: Science, v. 245, p. 1090-1092.
Lowenstein, T.K., Spencer, R.J., Yang, W., Casas, E., Pengxi, Zhang, B., Fan, H., and Krouse, H.R., 1994, Major-element and stable-isotope geochemistry of fluid inclusions in halite, Qaidam Basin, western China; Implications for Late Pleistocene/Holocene brine evolution and paleoclimates, in Rosen, M.R., ed., Paleoclimate and basin evolution of playa systems: Geological Society of America Special Paper 289, p. 19-32.
Qinghai Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, comp., 1991, Geological map of Qinghai Province of the People's Republic of China, Map 1, in Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources of Qinghai Province, Regional geology of Qinghai Province: Beijing, Geological Publishing House, People's Republic of China, Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources Geological Memoirs Series 1, no. 24, 1 map on 4 sheets, scale 1:1,000,000. [In Chinese with English abstract.]
Spencer, R.J., Lowenstein, T.K., Casas, E., and Pengxi, Z., 1990, Origin of potash salts and brines in the Qaidam Basin, China, in Spencer, R.J., and Chou, I-Ming, eds., Fluid-mineral interactions; A tribute to H.P. Eugster: University Park, Pa., Geochemical Society Special Publication 2, p. 395-408.
Sun Dapeng, Li Bing Xiao, Wang Kejun, Wang Luying, and Yand Bo, 1993, A preliminary investigation on an evaporating experiment (25° C) for Qinghai Lake water, China, in Kakihana, H., Hardy, H.R., Jr., Hoshi, T., and Toyokura, K., eds., Seventh symposium on salt: New York, Elsevier, Seventh Symposium on Salt, Kyoto, April 6-9, 1992 [Proceedings], p. 561-570.
Vengosh, A., Chivas, A.R., Starinsky, A., Kolodny, Y., Zhang Baozhen, and Zhang Pengxi, 1995, Chemical and boron isotope compositions of non-marine brines from the Qaidam Basin, Qinghai, China: Chemical Geology, v. 120, p. 135-154.
Yang Qian, 1986, The geological characteristics of the potash deposit of the Qarhan inland salt lake in Qaidam Basin, China, in Workshop on Occurrence, Exploration and Development of Fertilizer Minerals, Fertilizer minerals in Asia and the Pacific: Bangkok, Thailand, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Mineral concentrations and hydrocarbon accumulations in the ESCAP region, v. 1, p. 181-190.
Yang, Wenbo, Spencer, R.J., Krouse, H.R., Lowenstein, T.K., and Casas, E., 1995, Stable isotopes of lake and fluid inclusion brines, Dabusun Lake, Qaidam Basin, western China; hydrology and paleoclimatology in arid environments: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 117, p. 279–290.
Yang Qian, Wu Bihao, Wang, Shengzu, Cai Keqin, and Qian Zuohua, 1997, Geology of the potash deposit of the Qarhan Salt Lake: Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences Annual, v. 1995, p. 95-102.
Yuan Jianqi, Cai Keqin, Tao Weiping, Wang Qingming, Shuai Kaiye, Peng Shengfeng, Li Runmin, Wei Dongyan, and Zhang Youxun, 1996, Salt deposits of China, in Mineral deposits of China: Beijing, Geological Publishing House, v. 4, p. 168-234.
Zheng Mianping, 1992, Saline lake environment and the prospect of K, B and Li on Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau: Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences Annual Report, v. 1990, 38-42 p.
Zheng Mianping, and Liu Xifang, 2009, Hydrochemistry of salt lakes of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China: Aquatic Geochemistry, v. 15, p. 293-320.
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