Up-scaling mineral-aqueous interfacial processes that govern isotope and trace element partitioning during calcite growth
Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 8:00 AM
The dependence of the isotopic and trace element composition of calcium carbonate minerals on growth conditions including temperature, pH, and salinity is widely used to infer paleoclimate conditions. These inferences rely heavily on phenomenological observations of biogenic and inorganic precipitation both in and ex situ, where only limited variability in solution conditions can be explored. Ionic fluxes between the mineral surface and aqueous growth solution govern the net uptake of both stoichiometric and trace species during calcification, so developing a mechanistic understanding of the reactions governing these fluxes is critical to refine existing proxies and to develop new ones. The micro-scale mechanisms of calcite precipitation from aqueous solution have been extensively studied, and net ionic uptake post-nucleation is known to occur primarily at monomolecular kink sites along step edges at the mineral surface. In this talk, I will present a theoretical framework that uses the quasi-elementary ion attachment and detachment reactions governing ion uptake at kink sites to simultaneously model bulk mineral growth kinetics and tracer partitioning during calcite precipitation. Several distinct processes occur during ion uptake at kink sites that can influence the distribution of trace species, directly impacting the composition of various carbonate paleoproxies including δ44Ca, δ18O, Sr/Ca and Mg/Ca. The distribution of these trace species will be shown to depend on (1) the relative rates of ion desolvation during attachment to kink sites, (2) the relative rates of bond breaking during detachment from kink sites, and (3) the equilibrium partitioning of trace aqueous species. This model accounts for the impact of solution conditions on net ion fluxes and surface speciation, which in turn controls the population of kink sites available for direct ion exchange with the aqueous phase. The impacts of solution variables including pH, temperature and salinity can be treated independently, which unlike traditional partitioning studies allows the impacts of these parameters to be deconvolved. The type of theoretical framework discussed here can be readily extended to explicitly account for each of the major solution composition variables that are implicated in paleoproxy composition.