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Heavy mineral sands link geology with chemistry


, : Heavy mineral sands link geology with chemistry. Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America 33(6): 178

Each summer for six years, twenty inservice middle grade earth science and secondary chemistry teachers are selected from coastal Georgia to study the geology and chemistry of two titanium-bearing minerals. Through field trips, the teachers trace the origin of rutile and ilmenite to their conversion to consumable products. They travel to a monadnock in the Georgia Piedmont where occurs the world-class, now abandoned Graves Mountain Kyanite Mine. There, they obtain about twelve mineral species, including superb crystals of rutile, and unravel the complex geology and geomorphic setting of this site. A visit to a modern barrier beach along the Georgia coast allows the teachers to appreciate the transfer and subsequent entrainment of heavy sands in the swash zone that, in addition to the rutile and ilmenite, include zircon, magnetite, epidote, garnet, leucoxene, monazite, and tourmaline. Another visit to a placer mining operation in northern Florida, a landlocked barrier island, provides the opportunity to observe the extraction of a minable concentration of heavy sand. The teachers learn the fundamentals of chemical titration as they follow the ore to Savannah, Georgia. Here, the teachers observe how Kerr-McKee Pigments chemically converts the ore to titanium dioxide pigment; how waste sulfuric acid is converted to synthetic gypsum wallboard in a nearby Georgia-Pacific plant; and why TiO (sub 2) pigment can be the whitener that it is in thousands of applications--from a base in cosmetics and toothpaste to the white "sugar" on sugared donuts. Guest speakers from DuPont White Pigments and the Okefenokee NWR debate the "To Mine or Not To Mine" issue at Trail Ridge. The teachers write a unit plan as to how the principles of geology, mineralogy, geomorphology, and chemistry are to be integrated into their individual classrooms; how the mineral/rock collections have changed their teaching strategies; and assess their student learning objectives. The teachers reassemble the following Spring where each describes the successes and failures of their efforts.

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