Pseudomorphic Replacement of Mg–Ca Carbonates after Gypsum and Anhydrite


In this paper, we present a comparative study of the pseudomorphic carbonatation of gypsum and anhydrite single crystals in Mg-bearing aqueous solutions at room temperature. We have found that carbonatation of gypsum an anhydrite occurs via a similar coupled dissolution–crystallization mechanism. However, whereas pseudomorphization of anhydrite precisely preserves the external form and dimension of the initial crystals, pseudomorphs after gypsum are less perfect and the shape and volume of the original crystals are partially lost. Furthermore, the mineralogical compositions of the pseudomorphs after anhydrite and gypsum are different, because gypsum is replaced by relatively large calcite crystals, while anhydrite pseudomorphs consist of aggregates of calcite and aragonite. Such textural and compositional differences can be clearly related to the length scale of the coupling between dissolution and crystallization at the replacement fronts. In situ atomic force microscopy observations of the early stages of carbonatation have shown that dissolution and crystallization are very tightly coupled on anhydrite rather than on gypsum surfaces. This clearly indicates that during the replacement of anhydrite and gypsum, dissolution and precipitation, respectively, are the rate-limiting steps. On the other hand, the higher supersaturation levels reached during the replacement of anhydrite lead to a competition between calcite and aragonite crystallization. This explains the fact that calcite and aragonite coexist within the replacement layers after anhydrite. Finally, we have found that dissolved magnesium in the reacting solutions is almost equally incorporated into the pseudomorphs, regardless of both the precursor phase and the mineralogical composition of the replacements. Our calculations and chemical analyses have shown that the compositions of the MgxCa1–xCO3 solid solution for which supersaturations reach maximum values correspond quite well with maximum Mg/Ca ratios in the replacement layers.

ACS Earth and Space Chemistry