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During the past 15 yr, the global requirement for fertilizers has grown considerably, mainly due to demand by a larger and wealthier world population for more and higher-quality food. The demand and price for potash as a primary fertilizer ingredient have increased in tandem, because of the necessity to increase the quantity and quality of food production on the decreasing amount of available arable land. The primary sources of potash are evaporites, which occur mainly in marine salt basins and a few brine-bearing continental basins. World potash resources are large, but distribution is inequitable and not presently developed in countries where population and food requirements are large and increasing. There is no known substitute for potash in fertilizer, so knowledge of the world’s potash resources is critical for a sustainable future.

The U.S. Geological Survey recently completed a global assessment of evaporite-hosted potash resources, which included a geographic information system–based inventory of known potash resources. This assessment included permissive areas or tracts for undiscovered resources at a scale of 1:1,000,000. Assessments of undiscovered potash resources were conducted for a number of the world’s evaporite-hosted potash basins. The data collected provide a major advance in our knowledge of global potash resources that did not exist prior to this study. The two databases include: (1) potash deposits and occurrences, and (2) potash tracts (basins that contain these deposits and occurrences and potentially undiscovered potash deposits). Data available include geology, mineralogy, grade, tonnage, depth, thickness, areal extent, and structure, as well as numerous pertinent references.

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