Unravelling calcite-to-aragonite evolution from a subsurface fluid - Formation pathway, interfacial reactions and nucleation effects

Stefanie Eichinger, Ronny Boch, Andre Baldermann, Katja Goetschl, Robert Wenighofer, Rene Hoffmann, Franziska Stamm, Dorothee Hippler, Cyrill Grengg, Adrian Immenhauser, Martin Dietzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Calcite-aragonite alternations are documented in sedimentary deposits worldwide, but their formation is still poorly understood and individual CaCO3 precipitation pathways are rarely confirmed experimentally. Therefore, (sub)recent CaCO3 sinter formation in a historic subsurface adit at Erzberg (Austria) was used as a natural laboratory to monitor and assess the calcite-to-aragonite evolution pathway and intergrowth mechanism in terms of solid-liquid-atmosphere dynamics and their relevance for solid-liquid interface reactions and nucleation effects. Our results indicate an initial homogeneous nucleation of low-Mg calcite (LMC: ~3 ± 1 mol% MgCO3), induced by CO2 degassing from the percolating geogenic fluid, which is originated from seepage of local meteoric water and incongruent dissolution of Mg-Ca-Fe-bearing minerals from the host rock. Progressive LMC growth leads to an increase in the aqueous molar ratio of Mg/Ca, causing a Mg/Ca zonation pattern with transitions to high-Mg calcite (HMC: up to 7 mol% MgCO3). At a critical Mg concentration, the available Mg calcite crystal surfaces are acting as a nucleation site for heterogenous aragonite formation. In this way, fast growing acicular aragonite crystals are initiated, which impede further calcite growth. The calcite-to-aragonite transition is thus controlled by the reaction kinetics and mechanisms of Mg-calcite formation and the chemical evolution of the precipitating solution at the nano- to micro-spatial scale, creating Mg-enriched HMC surface sites for aragonite to be nucleated and preferentially grown. In the present case, the dynamics of the formation of calcite-aragonite sequences are triggered by distinct local environmental changes, in particular seasonal variations in seepage fluid flow behavior and progress in CO2 degassing. These considerations are relevant for a better understanding of proxy signal development and preservation in calcareous sedimentary sequences forming under highly dynamic environmental conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number121768
Number of pages32
JournalChemical geology
Volume2023
Issue number??? Stand: 16. Oktober 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Oct 2023

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