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Formation of Australian Zeolite

Formation of Australian Zeolite

Formation of Australian Zeolite

Because of its geological age, Australia has the oldest known zeolite deposits in the world.  Some Australian produced zeolites come from deposits which are 305 million years old compared to overseas commercial deposits which range from about 2 million to 100 million years old.  Over the ages these zeolites have become geologically hard and stable.

305 million years ago there was a huge range of active volcanos approximately where the Warrumbungles now stand.  These volcanoes poured out a continuous stream of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.  The prevailing winds carried the ash towards a vast reasonably shallow inland lake about the size of Port Stephens, NSW.  Much of the volcanic ash fell into this lake which was the perfect depth to form zeolites.

Over millions of years the lake became solid with compacted zeolite which eventually turned into solid rock.  About 5 million or so years ago (at the time that the Great Dividing Range was being formed) there was a series of catastrophic earthquakes.  One of the earthquakes was so huge that the solid deposit of zeolite was turned on its edge and dropped into an enormous hole in the earth.  This is the deposit which now supplies the purest, finest quality zeolite in Australia.

Australian zeolites are hard (mohs hardness of 5-6), stable, geologically old (305 million years old) and have no dissolved salts.  They also have a very high cation exchange capacity and high water holding capacity.

The stability of the zeolite structure is very important when a known result is required.  Geologically hard Australian zeolite has a very stable structure, by comparison the structure of the young, geologically soft zeolite breaks down under pressure.  Also, many young zeolites contain dissolved salts which have to be leached out of the zeolite before it is used.  Australian zeolite does not contain dissolved salts which means it does not require cleaning before use.

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