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Phosphorite

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Phosphorite, phosphate rock or rock phosphate is a non-detrital sedimentary rock that contains high amounts of phosphate minerals. The phosphate content of phosphorite (or grade of phosphate rock) varies greatly, from 4% to 20% phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5). Marketed phosphate rock is enriched ("beneficiated") to at least 28%, often more than 30% P2O5. This occurs through washing, screening, de-liming, magnetic separation or flotation. By comparison, the average phosphorus content of sedimentary rocks is less than 0.2%. The phosphate is present as fluorapatite masses (grain sizes < 1 μm) referred to as collophane -sedimentary apatite deposits of uncertain origin. It is also present as hydroxyapatite Ca5(PO4)3OH or Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2, which is often dissolved from vertebrate bones and teeth, whereas fluorapatite can originate from hydrothermal veins. Other sources also include chemically dissolved phosphate minerals and metamorphic rocks. Phosphorite deposits often occur in extensive layers, which cumulatively cover tens of thousands of square kilometres of the Earth's crust

Limestones are common phosphate-bearing rocks. Phosphate rich sedimentary rocks can occur in dark brown to black beds, ranging from centimeter-sized laminae to beds that are several meters thick. Although these thick beds can exist, they are rarely only composed of phosphatic sedimentary rocks. Phosphatic sedimentary rocks are commonly accompanied by or interbedded with shales , cherts and sometimes sandstone These layers contain the same textures and structures as fine-grained limestones and may represent diagenetic replacements of carbonate minerals They also can be composed of peloids, ooids, fossils, and clasts that are made up of apatite. There are some phosphorites that are very small and have no distinctive granular textures. This means that their textures are similar to that of collophane, or fine micrite -like texture. Phosphatic grains may be accompanied by organic matter , clay minerals, and pyrite. Peloidal or pelletal phosphorites occur normally; whereas oolitic

Phosphorites are known from Proterozoic banded iron formations, but are more common from Paleozoic sediments. The Permian of the western United States represents some 15 million years of sedimentation. It reaches a thickness of 420 metres and covers an area of 350,000 km2. Commercially mined phosphorites occur in France , Tunisia. In the United States phosphorites have been mined in Florida , Wyoming

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