The dissolution of olivine added to soil at 32°C: the fate of weathering products and its implications for enhanced weathering at different temperatures

Nicholas Iff*, Phil Renforth, Philip A. E. Pogge von Strandmann

*Corresponding author for this work

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The amendment of agricultural soils by crushed silicate minerals has been proposed to enhance weathering rates and facilitate carbon dioxide (CO2) removal from the atmosphere. Laboratory dissolution experiments typically provide weathering rates that are significantly higher than those observed under natural conditions, while field studies are limited in the nature of data they can collect. This study uses an experimental setup that aims to emulate natural field conditions in a controlled setting using soil cores retrieved from UK cropland amended with crushed olivine at 32°C. Results are compared to enhanced weathering experiments run at 4°C and 19°C under otherwise identical conditions. The data reveal temperature-dependent variations in the behaviour of different elements, most importantly Mg and Si, with silicon being retained at moderate temperatures and magnesium being retained at higher temperatures. These patterns are most likely due to different retention mechanisms, notably Si reprecipitation (e.g. as cation-depleted Si-enriched mineral surface coatings) and cation exchange (affecting Mg, but to a lesser degree Si), such that the influence of cation exchange should be accounted for when interpreting enhanced weathering field data. We therefore recommend that estimates of carbon sequestration should not be based on the behaviour of individual elements. A temperature effect on the weathering rate of olivine added to soil columns is observed with the weathering rate being higher at 32°C than at 19°C and 4°C, and significantly lower than laboratory experiment-derived weathering rates. This further emphasises the need for enhanced weathering field trials, as simple laboratory-derived rates cannot be used to assess the feasibility of enhanced weathering measures. The carbon dioxide capture potential at 32°C is conservatively estimated at ~115 t CO2 km-2 yr-1 assuming an olivine amendment rate of 12.7 kg m-2. Our data suggests that soil accumulation of heavy metals like Cu and Cr at high temperatures (hence high weathering rates) is non-dangerous, however, Ni concentrations in the effluent solution are close to EU guidelines while Cr and Cu are considerably lower than guidelines. All of these conclusions have implications for the application of enhanced weathering for carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1252210
JournalFrontiers in Climate
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2024


  • weathering experiment
  • carbon sequestration
  • temperature effect on weathering
  • olivine dissolution
  • cation exchange
  • negative emission technologies (NET)
  • enhanced weathering
  • carbon dioxide removal (CDR)


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