Aquatic Geochemistry

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 209–229 | Cite as

Salt Crystallization Sequences of Nonmarine Brine and Their Application for the Formation of Potassium Deposits

  • Chuanyong Ye
  • Jianye Mao
  • Yaqiong Ren
  • Yingping Li
  • Yongjie Lin
  • Ian M. Power
  • Yangbing LuoEmail author


The salt assemblages precipitated during evaporation of concentrated brine collected from Gasikule Salt Lake (GSL) were studied to better understand the formation of potassium deposits in the Qaidam Basin. The study included isothermal evaporation at 25 °C in the laboratory and solar evaporation in the ponds at GSL field. Brines increased in density and became moderately acidic (pH ≈ 5.30) while major ion geochemistry and precipitate mineralogy all showed broad agreement between both systems. Four salt assemblages were identified in the isothermal evaporation experiment: halite → halite + hexahydrite → halite + bischofite + carnallite → bischofite. Alternately, three salt assemblages were recognized in the solar evaporation: halite → halite + epsomite + carnallite → halite + carnallite + bischofite. The key difference in salt assemblages between the two systems is attributed to differences in relative humidity and temperature conditions. Although the GSL has deep spring inflow recharge, the high abundance of MgSO4 salts demonstrates that the salt assemblages are similar to normal seawater evaporation. Thus, different proportions of deep spring inflow and river water could form both MgSO4-deficient potassium evaporite and normal seawater potassium evaporites. Therefore, nonmarine water may form diverse potassium evaporite deposits in continental basins when the geological structure as well as hydrogeological and climatic conditions is appropriate.


Isothermal evaporation Solar evaporation Nonmarine brine Potassium deposits Qaidam Basin 



We are grateful to Prof. Z. M. Wang, vice Prof. W. L. Hao, J. Han and X. B. Lin from the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology and vice Prof. J. X. Xu, Doctor T. W. Li, Doctor X. L. Yuan, and Doctor W. L. Miao from the Institute of Salt Lakes, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for their assistance in the field sampling. This research was supported jointly by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41603048, 41473061 and U1407207) and China Geological Survey (Grant Nos. DD20160025 and DD20160054). The manuscript benefited from the insightful review from an anonymous reviewer.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MLR Key Laboratory of Saline Lake Resources and EnvironmentsInstitute of Mineral Resources, CAGSBeijingChina
  2. 2.Qinghai Geological Survey InstituteXiningChina
  3. 3.Jinzhong Vocational and Technical CollegeYuciChina
  4. 4.School of Earth Sciences and ResourcesChina University of GeosciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.Trent School of the EnvironmentTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada

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