EMC2016 - Minerals, fluids and rocks: alphabet and words of planet Earth

By Dr Alicja M Lacinska; Mineralogist/Petrographer at The British Geological Survey (BGS)

In September, on behalf of GERC and the Applied Mineralogy Group (the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), I attended the 2nd European Mineralogical Conference (EMC2016) organized by the Italian Society of Mineralogy and Petrology. The conference was held at the Palacongressi of Rimini, Italy and was attended by ca 700 scientists from around the world. Over four long days of talks and poster presentations, we had the opportunity to showcase our research in one of the sessions under the 16 broadly defined themes around Mineralogy and Geochemistry, including Mineral Deposits and Raw Materials, Mineralogical Sciences for Climate Change or Low T Geochemistry. I presented our recently published Chemical Geology paper (Lacinska et al, 2016) in a session on mineral reaction kinetics. The paper focuses on the intrinsic properties of serpentine minerals and their effect on the functionality of serpentines as a feedstock material for carbon capture and storage.

Presenting at EMC2016
The conference was a great success and sparked many fascinating chats over coffee breaks and wonderful Italian food; some of which will result in future international collaborations, most surely. I would like to thank GERC for co-funding this trip.

Following the conference, together with a colleague from BGS and a scientist from the University of Chieti-Pescara, we travelled down south along the Apennines to the region of Basilicata, where we investigated Mt Vulture, a dormant alkaline volcano. As part of this trip, we also visited Mefite d’Ansanto that is the Earth’s largest natural emission of low temperature CO2 rich gases, from non-volcanic environment, with a total gas flux of ca 2000 tons per day (Chiodini et al, 2010). The images below show flora and fauna-barren valley where the gas, containing 98 vol% CO2 and trace amounts of N2, Ar, H2S and CH4, seeps into the atmosphere from a buried reservoir of permeable limestones covered by clayey sediments. The leakage is facilitated by deep faulting, occurrence of which was highlighted by a number of earthquakes in the region, with the last one in 1980, the Irpinia earthquake of 6.9 on the Richter scale. Mefite d’Anstanto is often regarded as a natural analogue of potential gas discharge from engineered CO2 sequestration sites.

Mefite d’Ansanto – world’s largest natural emission of low temperature CO2-rich gases

Lacinska AM, Styles MT, Bateman K, Wagner D, Hall MR, Gowing C and Brown PD. 2016.  Acid dissolution of antigorite, chrysotile and lizardite for ex situ carbon capture and storage by mineralisation. Chemical Geology, 437, 153-169

Chiodini G; Granieri D; Avino R; Caliro S; Costa A; Minopoli C and Vilardo G. 2010. Non-volcanic CO2 Earth degassing: case of Mefite d’Ansanto (aouthern Apennines), Italy. Geophysical research letters, 37, L11303

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