Abstract: A five-year, humidity-cell experiment was used to study the weathering evolution of a low-sulfide, granitic waste rock at 5 and 22 °C. Only the rock with the highest sulfide content (0.16 wt %) released sufficient acid to overcome a limited carbonate acid-neutralization capacity and produce a substantial decline in pH. Leached SO4 and Ca quickly increased then decreased during the first two years of weathering. Sulfide oxidation continued to release acid and SO4 after carbonate depletion, resulting in an increase in acid-soluble elements, including Cu and Zn. With the dissolution of Al-bearing minerals, the pH stabilized above 4, and sulfide oxidation continued to decline until the end of the experiment. The variation in activation energy of sulfide oxidation correlates with changes in sulfide availability, where the lowest activation energies occurred during the largest releases of SO4. A decrease in sulfide availability was attributed to consumption of sulfide and weathered rims on sulfide grains that reduced the oxidation rate. Varying element release rates due to changing carbonate and sulfide availability provide identifiable geochemical conditions that can be viewed as neutralization sequences and may be extrapolated to the field site for examining the evolution of mineral weathering of the waste rock.
Keywords: humidity cell; rock acid generation; mineral acid neutralization; element release rates; pyrrhotite activation energy
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Langman, J.B.; Moore, M.L.; Ptacek, C.J.; Smith, L.; Sego, D.; Blowes, D.W. Diavik Waste Rock Project: Evolution of Mineral Weathering, Element Release, and Acid Generation and Neutralization during a Five-Year Humidity Cell Experiment. Minerals 2014, 4, 257-278.
Langman JB, Moore ML, Ptacek CJ, Smith L, Sego D, Blowes DW. Diavik Waste Rock Project: Evolution of Mineral Weathering, Element Release, and Acid Generation and Neutralization during a Five-Year Humidity Cell Experiment. Minerals. 2014; 4(2):257-278.
Langman, Jeff B.; Moore, Mandy L.; Ptacek, Carol J.; Smith, Leslie; Sego, David; Blowes, David W. 2014. "Diavik Waste Rock Project: Evolution of Mineral Weathering, Element Release, and Acid Generation and Neutralization during a Five-Year Humidity Cell Experiment." Minerals 4, no. 2: 257-278.