Evolution of mineral-fluid interfaces studied at pressure with synchrotron X-ray techniques

D. K. Dysthe, R. A. Wogelius, C. C. Tang, A. A. Nield

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In situ measurements of mineral surface evolution during the process of pressure solution are possible with the high brightness of synchrotron X-ray sources. This capability has been explored through the use of newly developed reaction vessels that allow transmission of the incident and scattered X-ray beam through a low atomic weight piston. Several new vessels are described, along with details of computational algorithms that are used to simulate X-ray scattering in this unconventional geometry. Results using calcite (CaCO3) and halite (NaCl) as reactant crystals are presented and compared to other atomic-scale measurements of surface dissolution processes. Calcite was reacted with an unsaturated fluid at 30 bars of pressure for approximately 24 h. During reaction the root mean square surface roughness (σ) evolved from 13.7 Å (± 0.5 Å) to 19.5 Å (± 1.0 Å), giving a roughening rate of: dσ/dt = +6.3 × 10- 5 Å s- 1. This is consistent with other measurements made with free calcite surfaces and is driven almost entirely by chemical disequilibrium. Analysis of the surface ex situ post-reaction gives an identical σ value, showing that the in situ measurements are well-constrained. Experiments also at 30 bars but in a saturated solution indicate that the calcite surface does not significantly roughen, giving the result that pressure solution of calcite at this pressure cannot be monitored in experiments of several days duration. Experiments with halite, a much more reactive phase, in saturated solutions showed the reflectivity profile to be dynamic on a time scale of hours. This experiment was left to reach equilibrium over 108 days and then re-analyzed, showing that σ had increased from 34 Å (± 2 Å) to 41 Å (± 2 Å), giving a roughening rate of: dσ/dt ≤ +6.4 × 10- 7 Å s- 1. This is two orders of magnitude smaller than the calcite roughening rate caused by chemical disequilibrium and provides the first direct in situ atomic-scale measurement of the rate of surface roughening due to pressure solution. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)232-241
    Number of pages9
    JournalChemical Geology
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2006


    • Calcite
    • Halite
    • Pressure solution
    • Synchrotron
    • X-ray reflectivity


    Dive into the research topics of 'Evolution of mineral-fluid interfaces studied at pressure with synchrotron X-ray techniques'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this