The cure to climate change? Olivine

What is Olivine?

Olivine is a family of greenish minerals or volcanic rocks that includes the gemstone known as peridot or chrysolite. The beuty about olivine is that it could help scrub a ton of CO2 from the atmosphere, which is certainly what the world needs right now.

Olivine forms from volcano eruptions when they spray magma into the air. The high crystallisation temperatures of magnesium iron silicates allow them to transform into bits of olivine, which are then encased in chunks of lava.

Found by Project Vesta, their goal is to turn the green sand’s natural properties into an advantage for the battle against the climate. When waves wash over volcanic rocks like olivine, the water sets off a tiny chemical reaction on the surface—“olivine weathering”—and pulls carbon dioxide out of the air. 

The result – Hydrocarbonate, HCO3, which serves to reduce and regulate acidity in both the human body and the ocean. The compound washes into the ocean while organisms eat it and turn the resulting product into more commonly known seashells and coral structures.

Project Vesta’s work is open source and began at a young think tank called Climitigation. The website highlights “There are many organizations, governments and people working on stopping or slowing the release of CO2 in the atmosphere, but there is not enough of a focus on reversing the existing damage.”

Another advantage is that it’s work is accelerating a natural process that encompasses nontoxic compounds. The project has accumulated decades of research about olivine and enhanced weathering carbon capture. Astonishingly, if this was implemented on just 2% of global shelf seas, this approach has the potential to capture almost all of annual human emissions.

The process of sinking excess carbon dioxide into rocks and minerals, is a huge subject of research interest just on its own. So this project as a whole is something that will come in good time.

By sequestering small volumes of CO2 in dozens of ways, scientists say that can help slow the negative impacts of climate change.

Future investment into Olivine pending?

Credit: William Wand – The Figure Head

Author: The Figure Head

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