Impact of mineral dissolution and precipitation on the wetting behavior of non-aqueous phase liquids in groundwater systems.
During the past few years the focus of my research has been to develop state-of-the-art microscopy and numerical techniques to study the interaction between minerals and fluids at a macro and nanometer scale. My main study is aimed at exploring a fundamental scientific problem of exploring how mineral alterations influence wetting behavior. My research is aimed to determine the way mineral precipitation, dissolution and replacement impact the wetting behavior of non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs) in rocks and soils at the micrometer and nanometer scales. We expect that alteration of wettability at the pore scale will affect field scale phenomena, such as pollutant mobility. Since wetting behavior controls the adhesion of liquid contaminants to minerals, my study is expected to have important practical implications to the quality of groundwater and to the environment.
I am also studying the way in which minerals undergo weathering from the macro to the nanoscale. I developed a numerical model to assess the effect of grain size and rock composition on chemical weathering and grain detachment. The model simulates the weathering of a rock comprising grains with various sizes composed of two different minerals with different reactivities. Our simulations showed that grain detachment represents more than a third of the overall weathering rate. We also found that as grain size increases, the weathering rate initially decreases; however, beyond a critical size, the rate became approximately constant. Our results could help predict the sometimes-complex relationship between rock type and weathering rate (for more details: https://www.earth-surf-dynam.net/6/319/2018/esurf-6-319-2018.html).