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Subarctic weathering of mineral wastes provides a sink for atmospheric CO2


Wilson, SA and Dipple, GM and Power, IM and Barker, SLL and Fallon, SJ and Southam, G, Subarctic weathering of mineral wastes provides a sink for atmospheric CO2, Environmental Science and Technology, 45, (18) pp. 7727-7736. ISSN 0013-936X (2011) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 American Chemical Society

DOI: doi:10.1021/es202112y


The mineral waste from some mines has the capacity to trap and store CO2 within secondary carbonate minerals via the process of silicate weathering. Nesquehonite [MgCO33H2O] forms by weathering of Mg-silicate minerals in kimberlitic mine tailings at the Diavik Diamond Mine, Northwest Territories, Canada. Less abundant Na- and Ca-carbonate minerals precipitate from sewage treatment effluent deposited in the tailings storage facility. Radiocarbon and stable carbon and oxygen isotopes are used to assess the ability of mine tailings to trap and store modern CO2 within these minerals in the arid, subarctic climate at Diavik. Stable isotopic data cannot always uniquely identify the source of carbon stored within minerals in this setting; however, radiocarbon isotopic data provide a reliable quantitative estimate for sequestration of modern carbon. At least 89% of the carbon trapped within secondary carbonate minerals at Diavik is derived from a modern source, either by direct uptake of atmospheric CO2 or indirect uptake though the biosphere. Silicate weathering at Diavik is trapping 102-114 g C/m2/y within nesquehonite, which corresponds to a 2 orders of magnitude increase over the background rate of CO2 uptake predicted from arctic and subarctic river catchment data.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:mine waste, carbon sequestration, carbon dioxide
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Climate change impacts and adaptation
Research Field:Carbon sequestration science
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Mitigation of climate change
Objective Field:Climate change mitigation strategies
UTAS Author:Barker, SLL (Dr Shaun Barker)
ID Code:129549
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:54
Deposited By:CODES ARC
Deposited On:2018-12-05
Last Modified:2019-01-21

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