Lithium: geological information
Lithium does not occur as the free metal in nature because of its high reactivity. Deposits are known all aroun the world. It is a minor component of nearly all igneous rocks and is a component of many natural brines (see below). Large deposits are located in California and Nevada (both in the USA) in several rock forms, particularly spodumene. The four main lithium minerals are spodumene, lepidolite, petalite, and amblygonite.
Lithium is also recovered from lakes such as Searles Lake (California, USA) and Clayton Valley (Nevada, USA). Lithium is extracted from the brine by solar evaporation, precipitation of Group 2 elements if necessary, and precipiation of lithium carbonate by addition of sodium carbonate to the hot brine.
Abundances of lithium in various environments
In this table of abundances, values are given in units of ppb (parts per billion; 1 billion = 109), both in terms of weight and in terms of numbers of atoms. Values for abundances are difficult to determine with certainty, so all values should be treated with some caution, especially so for the less common elements. Local concentrations of any element can vary from those given here an orders of magnitude or so and values in various literature sources for less common elements do seem to vary considerably.
The chart above shows the log of the abundance (on a parts per billion scale) of the elements by atom number in our sun. Notice the "sawtooth" effect where elements with even atomic numbers tend to be more strongly represented than those with odd atomic numbers. This shows up best using the "Bar chart" option on the chart.