Concrete-Water-Interaction and Ikaite (CaCO3.6H2O) Precipitation in a Man-Made River Bed

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Ronny Boch1, Martin Dietzel1, Peter Reichl2, Albrecht Leis2, Peter Pölt1 and André Baldermann1, (1)Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria, (2)Joanneum Research, Graz, Austria
Centimetre-thick, beige-colored and soft crusts were observed shortly after construction of a man-made river bed, i.e. a small natural river was bypassed flowing through a new bed lined with concrete and blocks. Hydrochemical investigations during wintertime – when water temperatures dropped down close to freezing – showed surprisingly high pH values up to 13.0 and elevated Ca2+ concentrations up to 200 mg/l. Both, the artifical and natural (downstream) section of the river bed were affected by the anomalous hydrochemistry and formation of prominent secondary precipitates.

In order to better understand the particular and rapid water-rock-interaction, a hydrochemical monitoring program was launched and several of the delicate precipitates were recovered in refrigerator boxes in their original solution. The samples were analyzed in the laboratory within a few hours after sampling and stored at 1 °C. XRD and FT-IR patterns clearly revealed the predominant occurrence of “ikaite” in the crusts next to minor amounts of other carbonates (calcite, aragonite, vaterite) and detrital minerals.

Ikaite – calcium carbonate hexahydrate – is a worldwide rarely documented carbonate mineral. This mineral is metastable and needs particular and narrow conditions in order to precipitate from solutions, i.e. a very limited water-temperature range between 0 and 4 °C (with ambient-pressure and low-salinity), highly alkaline pH conditions, high supersaturation values, and in many cases carbonate precipitation inhibitors (e.g. phosphates). Outside these conditions it disintegrates into calcite and water within minutes to hours. The few places of ikaite formation include Ikka Fjord in Greenland, Arctic- and Antarctic sea-ice and some sites of water mixing at Mono Lake, California.

Combining detailed field monitoring results, solid-phase analyses and regional meteorological data (rainfall, water discharge, temperature) with hydrogeochemical modeling allows constraining the mechanisms of ikaite formation, as well as the temporal and spatial evolution of the waters and precipitates in the river bed.