Geologic Distribution: Ytterbium occurs in minor amounts (about 0.03%) in the trace mineral monazite 1. Monazite was found in trace amounts in 22 of 24 coal samples examined using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) in an unpublished study by the WVGES. Mean whole coal ytterbium was 0.80 ppm in West Virginia coals. Ytterbium is a REE that correlated poorly with ash yield, but correlated well with several of the other REE, especially lutetium (Lu), europium (Eu), samarium (Sm), cerium (Ce), terbium (Tb), lanthanum (La) and erbium (Er). Vanadium also correlated well with several ash related elements such as scandium (Sc), thorium (Th), yttrium (Y), chromium (Cr), vanadium (V), lead (Pb), gallium (Ga) and lithium (Li). Ytterbium displays no stratigraphic or areal trends except for a low average abundance in the Pittsburgh and Redstone coals.
Economic Impact: Ytterbium in coal is of no economic impact, and has few economic applications or uses 2.
Environmental Impact: As a rare earth elements, ytterbium is low toxicity and should have no detrimental environmental impact in coal mining or utilization 1,2.
1. Swaine, D.J., (1990)
2. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
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