Experimental study of the carbonation of partially serpentinized and weathered peridotites
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Carbonation of partially serpentinized and weathered peridotites was studied experimentally under hydrothermal conditions (T: 200°C, PCO2: 130-180bars). Experiments were performed in a closed system using whole rock drill core samples (height: 1cm, diameter: 1cm) as starting material. The initial samples were composed mainly of meshwork serpentine, relicts of primary olivine and an olivine weathering product (deweylite assemblage). Two types of solutions, each with a total salt content corresponding to that of average seawater (35g/L dissolved salts), were used: (1) a Na-Ca-Cl solution (12.5g/L CaCl2+22.5g/L NaCl) and (2) a NaCl solution (35g/L NaCl). After 15-25days of experimental treatment, the samples were partly covered with carbonates. In addition, noticeable carbonation reactions had occurred below the sample surfaces within zones with thicknesses up to 250µm. In the Na-Ca-Cl solution, both the olivine relicts and the deweylite assemblage were partly replaced by calcite along the surrounding serpentine veins. However, the extent of calcitization was found to be considerably larger for the deweylite assemblage than for the olivine. Bulk fluid analyses show an increase in the Mg and Si concentrations with reaction time. In the NaCl solution, the deweylite assemblage was partly dissolved resulting in large voids within the reaction zone. In contrast, the olivine was replaced by magnesite. Under the conditions of our experiments, the meshwork serpentine was not reactive, but aided fluid infiltration into the rock samples. The experimentally produced microtextures closely resemble those found in natural examples. Our study elucidates the mechanisms by which carbonates form in ultramafic rocks under relatively high PCO2-T conditions and particularly in the presence of Ca-bearing aqueous solutions. The existence of a serpentine meshtexture and the presence of weathering products formed from primary Mg-silicates may have significant beneficial effects on in situ CO2 mineral sequestration in ultramafic rocks. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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