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Title: Trona  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Evaporite, Natron, Wyoming, San Bernardino train disaster, Glass batch calculation
Collection: Carbonate Minerals, Evaporite, Monoclinic Minerals, Sodium Minerals
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Trona sample
Category Carbonate mineral
(repeating unit)
Strunz classification 05.CB.15
Color Colorless or white, also grey to yellowish grey
Crystal habit Columnar, fibrous and massive.
Crystal system Monoclinic - Prismatic 2/m
Cleavage [100] perfect, [111] and [001] indistinct
Fracture Brittle - subconchoidal
Mohs scale hardness 2.5
Luster Vitreous
Streak White
Diaphaneity Translucent
Specific gravity 2.11 - 2.17
Optical properties Biaxial (-)
Refractive index nα = 1.412 nβ = 1.492 nγ = 1.540
Birefringence δ = 0.128
Solubility Soluble in water
Other characteristics May fluoresce under short wavelength ultraviolet
References [1][2][3]

Trona (trisodium hydrogendicarbonate dihydrate also sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate, Na3(CO3)(HCO3)•2H2O) is a non-marine evaporite mineral.[3][4] It is mined as the primary source of sodium carbonate in the United States, where it has replaced the Solvay process used in most of the rest of the world for sodium carbonate production.


  • Etymology 1
  • Natural deposits 2
  • Crystal structure 3
  • Uses of trona 4
  • Mining operations 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7


The word "trona" entered English by way of either Swedish (trona) or Spanish (trona), with both possible sources having the same meaning as in English. Both of these derive from the Arabic trōn, which in turn derives from the Arabic natron, and Hebrew נטרן (natruna), which comes from ancient Greek νιτρον (nitron), derived ultimately from ancient Egyptian ntry (or nitry).

Natural deposits

Trona sample from Searles Valley, California near the town of Trona, California

Trona is found at Owens Lake and Searles Lake, California; the Green River Formation of Wyoming and Utah; the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana and in the Nile Valley in Egypt.[5] The trona near Green River, Wyoming, is the largest known deposit in the world and lies in layered evaporite deposits from 800 to 1,600 feet (240 to 490 m) below ground, where the trona was deposited in a lake during the Paleogene Period.[6] Trona has also been mined at Lake Magadi in the Kenyan Rift Valley for nearly 100 years. The northern part of Lake Natron is covered by a 1.5 m thick trona bed,[7] and occurs in 'salt' pans in the Etosha National Park in Namibia.[8] The Beypazari region in the Ankara Province of Turkey has some 33 trona beds in two fault-bound lensoid bodies in and above oil shales of the Lower Hirka Formation (16 in the lower and 17 in the upper body).[9] The Wucheng basin trona mine, Henan Province China has some 36 trona beds (693–974 m deep), the lower 15 beds are 0.5–1.5 m thick, thickest 2.38 m; the upper 21 beds are 1–3 m thick, with a maximum of 4.56 m hosted and underlain by dolomitic oil shales of the Wulidui Formation.[10]

Trona has also been found in magmatic environments.[11] Research has shown that trona can be formed by autometasomatic reactions of late-magmatic fluids or melts (or supercritical fluid-melt mixtures), with earlier crystallized rocks within the same plutonic complex, or by large-scale vapor unmixing in the very final stages of magmatism.[11]

Crystal structure

The ambient temperature crystal structure of trona viewed down the b axis with the unit cell indicated by the solid gray line.

The crystal structure of trona was first determined by Brown et al. (1949).[12] The structure consists of units of 3 edge-sharing sodium polyhedra (a central octahedron flanked by septahedra), cross-linked by carbonate groups and hydrogen bonds. Bacon and Curry (1956)[13] refined the structure determination using two-dimensional single-crystal neutron diffraction, and suggested that the hydrogen atom in the symmetric (HC2O6)3− anion is disordered. The environment of the disordered H atom was later investigated by Choi and Mighell (1982)[14] at 300 K with three-dimensional single-crystal neutron diffraction: they concluded that the H atom is dynamically disordered between two equivalent sites, separated from one another by 0.211(9) Å. The dynamically disordered H atom was reinvestigated at low temperature by O'Bannon et al. 2014 [15] and they concluded that it does not order at temperatures as low as 100K.

Uses of trona

  • Trona is a common source of soda ash, which is a significant economic commodity because of its applications in manufacturing glass, chemicals, paper, detergents, and textiles.
  • It is used to condition water.
  • It is used to remove sulfur from both flue gases and lignite coals.[16][17]
  • It is a product of carbon sequestration of flue gases.[18]
  • It is also used as a food additive.[19][20]

Mining operations

See also


  1. ^ Handbook of Mineralogy
  2. ^ Mindat
  3. ^ a b Webmineral data
  4. ^ Mineral galleries, 2008
  5. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) Makgadikgadi, The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham
  6. ^ Banks, Chad (2007-05-24). What is Trona? Wyoming Mining Association. Retrieved on 2009-07-01.
  7. ^ Manega, P.C., Bieda, S., 1987. Modern sediments of Lake Natron, Tanzania. Sciences Geologiques. Bulletin 40, 83–95.
  8. ^ Eckardt, F. D., Drake, N., Goudie, A. S., White, K., & Viles, H. (2001). The role of playas in pedogenic gypsum crust formation in the Central Namib Desert: a theoretical model. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 26(11), 1177-1193.
  9. ^ Helvaci, C., 1998. The Beypazari trona deposit, Ankara Province, Turkey. In: Dyni, J.R., Jones, R. W. (Eds.), Proceedings of the first international soda-ash conference; Volume II, v. 40: Laramie,WY, Public Information Circular - Geological Survey of Wyoming, pp. 67–103.
  10. ^ Zhang, Youxun, 1985. Geology of the Wucheng trona deposit in Henan, China. In: Schreiber, B.C.,Warner, H.L. (Eds.), Sixth international symposium on salt, 1, pp. 67–73.
  11. ^ a b Markl, G., and Baumgartner, L. (2002) pH changes in peralkaline late-magmatic fluids. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 144, 331-346.
  12. ^ Brown, C.J., Peiser, H.S., and Turner-Jones, A. (1949) The crystal structure of sodium sequicarbonate. Acta Crystallographica, 2, 167-174.
  13. ^ Bacon, G.E., and Curry, N.A. (1956) A neutron-diffraction study of sodium sesquicarbonate. Acta Crystallographica, 9, 82-85.
  14. ^ Choi C.S., and Mighell A.D., (1982) Neutron diffraction study of sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate. Acta Crystallographica, B38, 2874-2876.
  15. ^ O’Bannon, E., Beavers, C. M., & WIllIams, Q. (2014). Trona at extreme conditions: A pollutant-sequestering material at high pressures and low temperatures. American Mineralogist, 99(10), 1973-1984.
  16. ^ Kong Y., and Wood M.D. (2010) Dry injection of trona for SO3 control. Power, 154, 114-118.
  17. ^ Sutcu H., and Eker Y. (2013) The removal of sulfur from Dursunbey and Iskilip lignites in Turkey, using natural trona: 1. The effect of the thermal method. Energy Sources Part A-Recovery Utilization and Environmental Effects, 35, 83-91.
  18. ^ Yoo M., Han S.J., and Wee J.H. (2013) Carbon dioxide capture capacity of sodium hydroxide aqueous solution, Journal of Environmental Management, 114, 512-519.
  19. ^ Ekosse, G.I.E. (2010) X-ray diffraction study of kanwa used as active ingredient in achu soup in Cameroon. African Journal of Biotechnology, 9, 7928-7929.
  20. ^ Nielsen, J.M. (1999) East African magadi (trona): Fluoride concentration and mineralogical concentration. Journal of African Earth Sciences, 29, 423-428.
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