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An experimental investigation of the interrelationships between reactivity, deformability and permeability during the serpentinization of olivine


Research objectives and content
This project draws its attention to the interrelationships between reaction kinetics, mechanical properties and permeability of olivine aggregates undergoing serpentinization. Using high pressure and temperature experiments, the kinetics of chemical reactions, the development of reaction-induced fracturing, and the changes in permeability can be measured 'in situ' for providing a quantitative basis for characterizing the mechanical properties of rocks undergoing a fluid-enhanced metamorphism. The project will be done at the Rock and Ice Physics Laboratory, University College London. The potential for developing feedback relationships between reactivity, deformability and permeability is particularly clear in metamorphic systems involving fluids where the reaction involves a sufficient volume increase to induce fractures. Under such circumstances the fractures provide fresh surfaces on which the reaction can proceed further enhancing the potential for fluids to move through the system modifying the mechanical properties of the reacting system. The research proposed seeks to determine the strength of these feedback relationships by controlling separately, under isostatic conditions the reaction kinetics, reaction-induced fracturing and permeability during the serpentinization of olivine. The results will be used as a basis for monitoring the progress of the reaction and interpreting the accompanying evolution in mechanical properties during deformation experiments at the reaction conditions. Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact) In coming to the Rock and Ice Physics Laboratory at University College London I will very substantially increase the range of my experimental expertise to include the measurement of acoustic properties, permeability and porosity. This will also involve a significant enhancement in my computerbased data acquisition and mathematical analysis skills. In addition, I will enlarge my skills in synthezising ultra-fine grained gel-derived olivine crystals for providing the raw material for the fracturing, permeability and deformation experiments. The Rock and Ice Physics group is one of the largest in the world, both in its equipment base and in its number of personnel. As such it offers an excellent opportunity for developing my research career further in an environment where a wide range of rock properties are under investigation. Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)

Funding Scheme

RGI - Research grants (individual fellowships)


Gower Street 5
WC1E 6HA London
United Kingdom

Participants (1)

Not available