Minerals may undergo recrystallization reactions in low temperature (<100 °C) aqueous systems, during which they exchange isotopes and trace elements with the dissolved reservoir without undergoing overt structural, bulk compositional, or morphological changes. These interfacial reactions, which are often referred to in the literature as “atom exchange” and herein as “stable mineral recrystallization”, have important implications for the use of isotopic and elemental proxies to interpret past temperatures, oxidation states, and aqueous chemistries on Earth. The reactions are also significant for modern environments, including engineered systems, as they imply that mineral lattices may be substantially more open to exchanging toxic elements and radionuclides with coexisting solutions than previously thought. To date, observations of stable mineral recrystallization are distributed among several disciplines, and no work has attempted to review their findings comprehensively. Accordingly, this review article presents laboratory evidence for stable mineral recrystallization, describes data collection and interpretation strategies, summarizes similar recrystallization systematics observed in multiple studies, explores the potential occurrence of stable mineral recrystallization in natural systems, and discusses possible mechanisms by which stable mineral recrystallization occurs. The review focuses primarily on carbonates, sulfates, and iron oxides because these minerals have been studied most extensively to date. The review concludes by presenting key questions that should be addressed in this field to further understand and account for stable mineral recrystallization in natural and engineered aqueous systems at low temperatures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology