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Publication Detail
Can accurate kinetic laws be created to describe chemical weathering?
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Schott J, Oelkers EH, Bénézeth P, Goddéris Y, François L
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    568, 585
  • Journal:
    Comptes Rendus - Geoscience
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
Knowledge of the mechanisms and rates of mineral dissolution and growth, especially close to equilibrium, is essential for describing the temporal and spatial evolution of natural processes like weathering and its impact on CO2 budget and climate. The Surface Complexation approach (SC) combined with Transition State Theory (TST) provides an efficient framework for describing mineral dissolution over wide ranges of solution composition, chemical affinity, and temperature. There has been a large debate for several years, however, about the comparative merits of SC/TS versus classical growth theories for describing mineral dissolution and growth at near-to-equilibrium conditions. This study considers recent results obtained in our laboratory on oxides, hydroxides, silicates, and carbonates on near-equilibrium dissolution and growth via the combination of complementary microscopic and macroscopic techniques including hydrothermal atomic force microscopy, hydrogen-electrode concentration cell, mixed flow and batch reactors. Results show that the dissolution and precipitation of hydroxides, kaolinite, and hydromagnesite powders of relatively high BET surface area closely follow SC/TST rate laws with a linear dependence of both dissolution and growth rates on fluid saturation state (Ω) even at very close to equilibrium conditions (|ΔG|<500J/mol). This occurs because sufficient reactive sites (e.g. at kink, steps, and edges) are available at the exposed faces for dissolution and/or growth, allowing reactions to proceed via the direct and reversible detachment/attachment of reactants at the surface. In contrast, for magnesite and quartz, which have low surface areas, fewer active sites are available for growth and dissolution. Such minerals exhibit rates dependencies on Ω at near equilibrium conditions ranging from linear to highly non-linear functions of Ω, depending on the treatment of the crystals before the reaction. It follows that the form of the f(ΔG) function describing the growth and dissolution of minerals with low surface areas depends on the availability of reactive sites at the exposed faces and thus on the history of the mineral-fluid interaction and the hydrodynamic conditions under which the crystals are reacted. It is advocated that the crystal surface roughness could serve as a proxy of the density of reactive sites. The consequences of the different rate laws on the quantification of loess weathering along the Mississippi valley for the next one hundred years are examined. © 2012 Académie des sciences.
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