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Bromine Function in Halite Geochemistry

BILLO, S. M., King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Of the halogens or salt formers, bromine is the only nonmetal which occurs naturally as a poisonous liquid much denser than water. The power of its atoms, expressed by a valence of 1 and 5, makes it unite directly with a large number of metallic elements to form salts. As a rare and strongly electronegative element of group VII in the periodic table, bromine exists in seawater and evaporitic brines as bromide with a ratio to chlorinity of 0.00348. Most water detains only about 1 ppm bromide for each 300 ppm of chloride. The most abundant source of bromine is ocean water (65 ppm Br), but richer peps occur in salt deposits and primarily in mineral brines.

Atomic absorption spectrophotometric resolutions of Permian Castile halites exposed low values of bromine compared with its higher quantities in modern oceans like the Mediterranean.

Bromine analyses of the two petrographically distinct forms of halite that characterize many ancient evaporite deposits, as in the Elk Point basin fields of Alberta, imply they crystallized from brines of noticeably different concentrations.

Bromine in halite has been used as a paleosalinity indicator and a stratigraphic marker. Bromine liquid, with an atomic weight of 79.904 and atomic number 35, is used in producing gasoline antiknock mixtures, fumigants, photographic chemicals, drilling fluids, and fire retardants. It is also highly toxic and corrosive as bromine gas. Bromine contents greater than 1 ppm may be unsafe in the atmosphere, and a dose of 500 ppm can lead to death in less than an hour.

 

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91010©1991 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section Meeting, Billings, Montana, July 28-31, 1991 (2009)