The contribution of hydrodynamic processes to calcite dissolution rates and rate spectra
Recent measurements on the dissolution rate of nano- and micron-scale rough calcite surfaces have shown lateral variations in dissolution rate, which can be quantified using rate spectra. This study uses numerical simulations to investigates the hydrodynamic processes during such experiments to explore whether hydrodynamic effects can explain the observed dissolution rate spectra. For this purpose, we simulated the dissolution processes of nano- and micron-scale rough calcite surfaces in COMSOL Multiphysics. We imposed surface topographies and local reaction rates measured using Vertical Scanning Interferometry (VSI), and implemented the same flow rate (i.e., 6 × 10−8 m3 s−1), solution chemistry (pH 8.8, alkalinity 4.4 meq/kg-H2O and pCO2 10−3.48 bar) and flow-cell geometry as those used in the experiment. We have compared the simulated rate spectra against the experimentally measured values at a calcite surface having the same surface topography and reactive-flow conditions.Simulations using a single dissolution rate for the rough calcite surface did not produce similarly wide dissolution rate spectra like those observed experimentally. Our results have shown that only by explicitly incorporating the rate spectra in the model the simulated and the measured rate spectra would match. Sensitivity analyses by varying chemical composition and flow velocity were performed to examine the effects of these parameters on the calculated rate spectra. This study concludes that for the reactive-flow regimes where dissolution rate spectra are observed experimentally, the chemical heterogeneity, topography of the crystal surface and the resulting heterogeneity in the free energy landscape at the surface play a major role in controlling the dissolution rate spectra. With the injection of more acidic (pH 2) solutions at higher velocities (i.e., 0.04 m s−1), we observed an increase in the hydrodynamics-induced rate variability at microscopically rough surfaces.