The recent discovery of hyalophane [(K,Ba)Al1−2Si3−2O8] on the North range segment of the Early Proterozoic Cuyuna Iron Range of east-central Minnesota has shed new light on the depositional environment of these rocks. This Ba-feldspar occurs in a 10 m thick interval within the main iron-formation and typically contains between 8 and 26 mol.% celsian (BaAl2Si2O8). Its occurrence in several textural settings suggests that barium was being deposited at various stages in the paragenetic history of the iron-formation. Some of the hyalophane grains occur as the cores of micronodules, which are structurally similar to oolites or oncolites, but mineralogically are very complex. The hyalophane also occurs as rims on core grains of diverse mineral composition and as discrete phases in late crosscutting veins.
Hyalophane, like other Ba-silicates, has a very restricted paragenesis. They are associated typically either with sedimentary manganese and ferromanganese deposits, or with Cu-Pb-Zn-Ba deposits. The presence of hyalophane in the Early Proterozoic manganiferous iron ores of east-central Minnesota casts doubt on the historic interpretation of these deposits as typical Superior-type sedimentary iron-formations and instead supports the view that these deposits, at least in part, consist of chemical sediments from a hydrothermal fumarolic system. The suggested involvement of a hydrothermal system is also supported by the occurrence of aegirine within the hyalophane-rich layer, and the occurrence of tourmalinites and Sr-rich baryte veins elsewhere in the Cuyuna North range.