Rolling stones; fast weathering of olivine in shallow seas for cost-effective CO2 capture and mitigation of global warming and ocean acidification
Human CO2 emissions may drive the Earth into a next greenhouse state. They can be mitigated by accelerating weathering of natural rock under the uptake of CO2. We disprove the paradigm that olivine weathering in nature would be a slow process, and show that it is not needed to mill olivine to very fine, 10 μm-size grains in order to arrive at a complete dissolution within 1-2 year. In high-energy shallow marine environments olivine grains and reaction products on the grain surfaces, that otherwise would greatly retard the reaction, are abraded so that the chemical reaction is much accelerated. When kept in motion even large olivine grains rubbing and bumping against each other quickly produce fine clay- and silt-sized olivine particles that show a fast chemical reaction. Spreading of olivine in the world's 2% most energetic shelf seas can compensate a year's global CO2 emissions and counteract ocean acidification against a price well below that of carbon credits.