Diatomite, also known as Diatomaceous earth is a chalk-like, soft, friable, very fine-graded, siliceous sedimentary rock, usually light in colour (white if pure, commonly buff to grey in situ and rarely black). It is very finely porous (porosity 70-75%), very low in density (0.5-0.8 g/cm3) and is chemically inert in most liquids and gases. The typical chemical composition is 86% silica, 5% sodium, 3% magnesium and 2% iron. Our diatomite contains carbon, hence the colour being black, and It is common for our diatomite to contain up to 20% organic carbon, with the occasional report of organic carbon exceeding 40%.
Diatomite forms from an accumulation of amorphous hydrous silica cell walls of dead diatoms in both oceanic and fresh water. Diatoms are a type of single-cell aquatic plants (algae) which contain an internal, elaborate siliceous skeleton consisting of two frustules that vary in size. Diatomite “blooms” occurred several times a year and large blooms produced billions of individual diatoms. The diatoms died and their skeletons settled to the bottom of the water body. The diatoms accumulated over thousands of years, producing a thick layer called diatomite. The thickness of diatomite layers can vary from a few centimetres to hundreds of meters.
Diatomite has been successfully used as a soil ameliorant where it serves to reduce compaction and increase water and air permeation. It also increases plant available water, firms soggy soils, loosens hard to work soils, provides better drainage, aids in nutrient transfer and improves root growth. In other applications such as golf courses, and other landscaped areas it helps absorb and hold water, reducing the amount of water needed.