A fundamental question in earth and planetary systems is: how are chemical elements distributed from high temperature in the planet's interior to low temperatures at the surface, atmosphere and/or ocean? The transport of elements has been captured in elegant geochemical cycles that help us understand how life originated, how planetary atmospheres develop, how ore deposits form and how climate is regulated. But most of these cycles omit reactions between gases and solids.
Gas mixtures are especially important in low pressure and high temperature planetary crusts (e.g., magmatic terranes, meteorite impacts) where there is ample opportunity for gases to react with solids (minerals and amorphous materials like glass) as they buoyantly rise. These reactions redistribute chemical elements and electrons, and create/destroy solids causing significant changes to the three-dimensional structure of solid particles and rocks. However, they are difficult to study because 1) they typically “break equilibrium rules” because reactions may occur rapidly (e.g., over seconds), and heat and momentum transfer are significant; and 2) reaction products may include highly soluble salts that are not readily preserved or detectible with standard approaches.
I will introduce our investigations of gas-solid reactions in Earth and planetary processes using experiments, state-of-the-art analysis of laboratory and natural materials, and explain how new methods (extracted from approaches used in engineering) may be applied to model these processes, with reference to the ongoing eruptions at Kilauea, Hawaii.