Water-rock interactions often involve the dissolution of a primary mineral and the precipitation of a new secondary phase. Many of the mechanisms governing such coupled reactions can only be observed directly using high resolution imaging techniques. In this study, atomic force microscopy was used to examine dolostone dissolution at the nanometer and micron scale at different pH conditions in the range 3.5-4.5. During the experiments, a secondary Mg-rich phase comprising nano-scale particles forms on the surface. Importantly, the precipitate does not significantly inhibit dissolution of the dolostone, and although the overall rates of surface retreat are highly dependent on pH, similar mechanisms are found to govern the evolution of the surface. At all pH values, high dissolution rates are observed at etch pits and along grain boundaries, resulting in rate spectra (probability density functions of reaction rates) that are often highly asymmetric and skewed towards higher values. A model based on extreme value theory performs well at capturing the long tails characteristic of the asymmetric distributions, indicating a possible route towards predicting rate spectra in dissolving rocks.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Yael Levenson and Yevgeny Kreisserman are thanked for their help with analytical work, and the Israel Science Foundation is thanked for its generous financial support. The associate editor and two anonymous reviewers are also thanked for their helpful comments.
- Atomic force microscopy
- Extreme value theory
- Reaction rates