The geochemical evolution of basalt Enhanced Rock Weathering systems quantified from a natural analogue

T. Linke, E.H. Oelkers, K. Dideriksen, S.C. Möckel, S. Nilabh, F. Grandia, S.R. Gislason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Substantial quantities of fine-grained basaltic dust have fallen on South Iceland soils over at least the past 3300 years, making this region an ideal natural analogue to define the long-term consequences of current Enhanced Rock Weathering efforts. A relatively pristine South Iceland Gleyic/Histic Andosol, 3 m in height, receiving approximately 1250 mm of rainfall annually was selected for this study. This soil receives an estimated 500–800 g m−2 y−1 of basaltic dust. The soil waters in this system were regularly sampled as a function of depth from May to November 2018. The fluid pH, alkalinity and the concentrations of most major elements increased with depth as the fluids became more reduced. In contrast, whereas numerous toxic trace metals are initially released to the fluid by the dissolution of the basalt near the surface they are scavenged at depth likely due to their uptake by secondary minerals. Equilibrium reaction path modelling suggests that 1) the added airborne basaltic dust dissolves throughout the soil column and 2) in total 0.26 cm3 of basalt dust dissolves per kg water in this soil–water system. Mass balance calculations indicate that the annual mass of basalt dissolved is less than 60 % of that added to the system, such that the mass of basaltic material in the soil column likely increases continuously over time. Basalt dissolution is maintained throughout the soil by the precipitation of Al-Si-minerals such as allophane, and organic anion ligands released from organic decay. These processes limit aqueous Al3+ activity and keep the soil waters undersaturated with respect to primary basaltic minerals and glass. The soil water pH is ∼6 and has a higher alkalinity than that of both Icelandic surface waters and the ocean. In contrast, if no basalt was present, the pH of the soil solutions would be 4.4, with zero alkalinity, illustrating the role of added basalt in drawing CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-77
Number of pages12
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024


  • Alkalinity production
  • Basalt weathering
  • CO storage
  • Enhanced rock weathering
  • Heavy-metal mobility
  • Soil degassing

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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