- Published: 21 May 2009
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Alan Matewish, age i3, of Dauphin, Man., Canada, for his question;
Where is graphite found?
Deposits of graphite are strewn here and there around the world from the Polar regions to the tropics. The soft, sooty mineral is found in many countries, and the list of countries with enough to make mining worthwhile is a long one. Graphite is a form of carbon, and artificial supplies are produced from coal and other sources of carbon.
Graphite has been mined in Ceylon for some 300 years. In the 19th century, graphite from these mines was used to fiat the so called lead pencils of America. The soft, greasy mineral also helped launch the age of industry, for it is used to lubricate machinery. Deposits of graphite were soon found in new York where, between i$50 and 7.9i$, it was taken from the Ticonderoga mine.
North America, now gets much of its graphite from the ancient rocks of the Laurentians, those shriveled mountains that roll gently along the eastern seaboard through Canada and New England. There are graphite mines in both Canada and New York. Here the black, chalky mineral is embedded in age old limestones. It often occurs in veins several feet thick, standing upright like sooty columns in the bedrock.
Much of the world's graphite occurs in thin flakes and small scales. Smoky streaks and smudges of graphite may be embedded in gi3mmering white marble. These arid marry other graphite deposits axe too sparse to mine. There are deposits in 26 of the United states, but graphite is mined in only 18 of these.
Supplies for North America come from parts of Canada and Alaska, Alabama, Michigan California. Nevada, Texas and Pennsylvania. In addition to these and other mines, quantities of graphite are also produced from coke and anthracite coal. Artificial graphite is made at Niagara Falls, for the process requires plenty of electrical power.
All these deposits of graphite axe not enough to supply the needs of North America. The United states imports from Mexico, several countries in Central Europe and from faraway Madagascar, and some graphite is still imported from the rich mines Of Ceylon.
Graphite is found in lavas and ancient metamorphic rocks. It may occur near coal depoeits, and scane graphite has formed frcn ancient coal beds. This is the final stage of the carbonizing process of coal making. All graphites may have formed from organic materials, but We are not certain of this. The soft mineral is a form of carbon, and some graphites may have been formed fry chemicals such as carbon dioxide.