What is it about?

Hydration and carbonation are the main reactions that drive volatile cycles in the Earth. Yet, the mechanisms that control acceleration or deceleration of these reactions remain largely unknown. We present here clear experimental evidence that hydration reactions can fracture rocks and promote further fluid flow and reactions under confining pressure (i.e., at simulated depth).

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Why is it important?

Based on the experimental results and non-dimensional parameterization, we propose that the ratio of the initial fluid-flow rate to the reaction rate has a primary control on the self-acceleration and deceleration of fluid flow and reactions during hydration and carbonation within the Earth.

Perspectives

Our results give insight into the conditions necessary to accelerate hydration of the oceanic mantle lithosphere, which has a strong influence on the H2O budget on Earth, as well as conditions for accelerated carbonation reactions of ultramafic rocks that would enhance mineral carbonation and storage. The results may also be applied to inhibit damage caused by the swelling of anhydrite during tunnel construction and geothermal developments, and to understand the weakening of plate boundary faults by the swelling of smectite.

Masaoki Uno
Tohoku Daigaku

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This page is a summary of: Volatile-consuming reactions fracture rocks and self-accelerate fluid flow in the lithosphere, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2110776118.
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