Articles | Volume 5, issue 3
21 Jul 2009
 | 21 Jul 2009

Precipitation of solid phase calcium carbonates and their effect on application of seawater SATP models

G. M. Marion, F. J. Millero, and R. Feistel

Abstract. At the present time, little is known about how broad salinity and temperature ranges are for seawater thermodynamic models that are functions of absolute salinity (SA), temperature (T) and pressure (P). Such models rely on fixed compositional ratios of the major components (e.g., Na/Cl, Mg/Cl, Ca/Cl, SO4/Cl, etc.). As seawater evaporates or freezes, solid phases [e.g., CaCO3(s) or CaSO42H2O(s)] will eventually precipitate. This will change the compositional ratios, and these salinity models will no longer be applicable. A future complicating factor is the lowering of seawater pH as the atmospheric partial pressures of CO2 increase. A geochemical model (FREZCHEM) was used to quantify the SAT boundaries at P=0.1 MPa and the range of these boundaries for future atmospheric CO2 increases. An omega supersaturation model for CaCO3 minerals based on pseudo-homogeneous nucleation was extended from 25–40°C to 3°C. CaCO3 minerals were the boundary defining minerals (first to precipitate) between 3°C (at SA=104 g kg) and 40°C (at SA=66 g kg). At 2.82°C, calcite(CaCO3) transitioned to ikaite(CaCO36H2O) as the dominant boundary defining mineral for colder temperatures, which culminated in a low temperature boundary of −4.93°C. Increasing atmospheric CO2 from 385 μatm (390 MPa) (in Year 2008) to 550 μatm (557 MPa) (in Year 2100) would increase the SA and t boundaries as much as 11 g kg−1 and 0.66°C, respectively. The model-calculated calcite-ikaite transition temperature of 2.82°C is in excellent agreement with ikaite formation in natural environments that occurs at temperatures of 3°C or lower. Furthermore, these results provide a quantitative theoretical explanation (FREZCHEM model calculation) for why ikaite is the solid phase CaCO3 mineral that precipitates during seawater freezing.