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Decoupling feldspar dissolution and precipitation rates at near-equilibrium with Si isotope tracers: Implications for modeling silicate weathering

Abstract : Here we show that the isotope tracer experimental method for kinetic studies, aided by the recent advance and accessibility of multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) analysis for non-traditional stable isotopes, can provide unidirectional dissolution rates at near-equilibrium conditions. For a long time, the only rates available at near-equilibrium were net reaction rates-dissolution rates minus precipitation rates. This is because the conventional experimental method of kinetic studies is based on element concentrations and can only provide net rates. The availability of unidirectional rates allows us to re-examine some fundamental concepts and practices of modeling weathering in geochemistry.

In this study, we used the 29Si isotope tracer to conduct albite and K-feldspar dissolution experiments at near-equilibrium conditions in near-neutral pH solutions at 50 °C. Results show that the saturation indices (SI) of solutions approached zero with respect to albite and K-feldspar after ∼240-360 h (h), but 29Si/28Si ratios of the experimental solutions indicated continual dissolution for another 720-1440 h. The rates of total Si precipitation were much smaller than the rates of Si dissolution. The experimental solutions were supersaturated with respect to amorphous Al(OH)3, gibbsite, quartz, allophane, imogolite, and kaolinite. The SI of the solutions remained constant with respect to these phases while Al concentrations slightly decreased and Si concentrations slightly increased, indicating the coupled feldspar dissolution and precipitation of secondary phases, such as albite → amorphous Al(OH)3 + quartz or albite → solution + Al-Si phase(s), instead of significant albite and K-feldspar precipitation (the reverse reaction) at 50 °C. Reaction path modeling of the temporal evolution of Si, Al, Na, and pH revealed that albite dissolution (without significant backward reaction) coupled with the precipitation of a secondary phase with a Si:Al ratio of ∼2:1 can successfully match the experimental data.

Given the negligible feldspar precipitation reactions in low-temperature systems (e.g., T < 100 °C), we recommend modeling feldspar weathering using unidirectional forward rates together with secondary phase precipitation rates in near-equilibrium, feldspar-undersaturated systems. This can be accomplished with minor modifications in geochemical modeling software or input files. The coupled feldspar dissolution with secondary phase precipitation arrests the system in a near-equilibrium steady state. Using affinity-based rate equations such the classical linear Transition State Theory rate law or the Burch empirical relation together with far-from-equilibrium rate data will predict significant feldspar precipitation in solutions undersaturated but close to equilibrium with respect to feldspars, which is unlikely at near ambient temperatures.

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Submitted on : Friday, May 6, 2022 - 6:14:33 PM
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Chen Zhu, J. Donald Rimstidt, Yilun Zhang, Jinting Kang, Jacques Schott, et al.. Decoupling feldspar dissolution and precipitation rates at near-equilibrium with Si isotope tracers: Implications for modeling silicate weathering. GEOCHIMICA ET COSMOCHIMICA ACTA, 2020, 271, pp.132-153. ⟨10.1016/j.gca.2019.12.024⟩. ⟨insu-03661446⟩



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