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The kinetics of calcium carbonate hexahydrate (ikaite) precipitation and dissolution were investigated in seawater and seawater-derived brines at sub-zero temperatures using the constant addition experimental technique. The steady state rate of these two processes was found to be a function of the deviation of the solution from equilibrium with respect to ikaite and conformed to the same empirical rate law as the anhydrous CaCO3 polymorphs, calcite and aragonite. In addition to the saturation state of the brine with respect to ikaite, the salinity of the brine and the temperature of the reaction evidently exerted some control on the ikaite precipitation kinetics, while the dissolution kinetics of the polymorph were not noticeably influenced by these two parameters. The experimental salinity and temperature conditions were equivalent to those at thermal equilibrium between brine and ice in the sea ice cover of polar seas. Simple modelling of the CO2 system by extrapolation of the oceanic equivalent to sea ice brines showed that the physical concentration of seawater ions and the changes in ikaite solubility as a function of salinity and temperature, both inherent in the sea ice system, would be insufficient to drive the emergent brines to ikaite supersaturation and precipitation in sea ice down to −8 °C. The loss of dissolved inorganic carbon to the gas phase of sea ice and to sympagic autotrophs are two independent mechanisms which, in nature, could prompt the brine CO2 system towards ikaite supersaturation and precipitation. Under these conditions, the steady state precipitation rate of ikaite was found to be fast enough for rapid formation within short time scales (days to weeks) in sea ice. The observed ikaite dissolution kinetics were also found conducive to short turn-over time scales of a few hours to a few days in corrosive solutions, such as surface seawater.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-211
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014

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