Resolving the gap between laboratory and field rates of feldspar weathering

Chen Gruber, Chen Zhu, R. Bastian Georg, Yevgeny Zakon, Jiwchar Ganor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Weathering rates of silicate minerals observed in the laboratory are in general up to five orders of magnitude higher than those inferred from field studies. The differences between experimental conditions in the laboratory and natural conditions in the field have been thoroughly discussed in previous studies, however, the discrepancy was never fully resolved. It has been shown in past work that if the field conditions are fully simulated in standard laboratory experiments, it is not possible to measure the slow rates of mineral dissolution that are observed in the field using standard laboratory experiments. Therefore, a novel method that uses the change of Si isotopes ratio in spiked solutions is used in the present study to measure weathering rates of feldspar under close-to-natural conditions.A single-point batch experiment (SPBE) of albite dissolution was performed in the present study with an "untreated" albite sample. During the SPBE the dissolution rate was affected by the change of deviation from equilibrium and by the change in the mineral surface reactivity. In order to quantify the effect of the change in surface reactivity on the measured dissolution rates, two multi-point batch experiments (MPBE) were conducted. In those experiments, surface reactivity was found to depend on the amount of dissolved mineral. The decrease in surface reactivity as a function of the amount of dissolved mineral may be described using empirical power laws.Another MPBE was used to measure far-from-equilibrium dissolution rate of albite using a sample that lost most of the highly reactive sites and highly reactive fine crystal during the initial stage of the experiment. Therefore, the change of its surface reactivity is small over the duration of the laboratory experiment (henceforth, "treated" albite sample). Another SPBE was conducted to quantify the effect of deviation from equilibrium on albite dissolution rate under close-to-equilibrium using the "treated" albite sample.For the first time, albite dissolution rate (or any silicate mineral) is described as a function of deviation from equilibrium under ambient temperature and circum neutral pH. Even though the new experimental results confirm the extrapolation of high temperature data, the measured dissolution rates were higher than those from field studies. Introducing a reactivity coefficient allows for resolving the discrepancy between dissolution rates observed in natural settings as opposed to experimental setups.Our results indicate that the extensive debate on the gap between dissolution rates determined using laboratory experiments and those using field observations reflects the inability to measure the dissolution rates under typical field conditions, using standard laboratory experiments.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)90-106
Number of pages17
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
StatePublished - 5 Dec 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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