Some of the Triassic rocks of East Devon contain nodules filled with quite rare and exotic minerals. Baryte is composed of barium sulphate. It is a very important commercial mineral that is particularly used as a component of drilling fluids in oil wells. Because baryte is extraordinarily heavy, it creates the hydraulic pressure required to keep gas, oil and water contained under the ground. Without that weight, the oil and gas would displace the fluids in the oil well and burst out at the surface forming a blowout which could easily destroy the oil rig and cause massive pollution.
Find out more on the rocks and pseudofossils page.