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How Green Crystalline Rocks Could Help Protect Earth from Climate Change

How Green Crystalline Rock Could Help Protect Earth from Climate Change, Pele, Peridot, Olivine, Dunite

Peridot, one of the oldest gemstones in the world, yellow-greenish in color, is a variety of the mineral olivine, common in the Earth’s upper mantle and the ocean floor. As early as the second millennium B.C., ancient Egyptian people used the crystals for jewelry, calling it the “gem of the sun.” Since the crystals were thought to glow, they were mined a night.

The Pharaohs used peridots as currency and accessories, while the Romans called it the “Evening Emerald.”

Intaglio Portrait of Cleopatra II –  Wikipedia

It is such an old gemstone that peridot is derived from the Arabic word faridat, meaning gem. 

Today, green crystals are associated with the heart chakra of people and the Earth. According to some, the Earth’s heart chakra is in Hawaii, and peridot is associated with the Goddess of Fire, Pele’s tears. The gems are some of the first minerals to crystallize as volcanoes spew magma into the air. 

Video by Gemstones:

Green Crystals and the Tears of Pele

In Hawaii, Papakōlea Beach, also known as Green Sand Beach, features green olivine crystal sand.

Green Sand Beach, by MadereugeneandrewWikipediaCC BY-SA 4.0 with sand by Wilson44691CC0

In 2017, a photo taken by a volunteer at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park appeared to show the face of Pele. See the video by KHON2 News below:

Green Crystalline Rocks to Fight Climate Change

Now, scientists have found that olivine-rich igneous rocks called dunite may help lock carbon-dioxide underground, assisting with mitigating global warming to heal the Earth. The rocks naturally weather, taking the greenhouse gas from the air and turning it into minerals. 

In 1859, geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter named dunite after the Dun Mountains of New Zealand. Notably, dunite is over 90% olivine. 

The dunite field is highlighted in green by Tobias1984 via WikipediaCC BY-SA 3.0

Now, research suggests dunite could be artificially used to trap CO2 at a greatly accelerated pace. Unlike other methods such as underground storage reservoirs, the process leaves no risk that the gas would escape again. So, it’s a highly stable method to lock away carbon for thousands of years.

Dunite and Olivne via Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Dunite Cracks, Increasing Capacity to Store CO2

Recently, researchers at Columbia University discovered dunite forms cracks when exposed to CO2, which increases the storage capacity. As carbonized minerals grow inside the rock, they eventually fracture it, opening up more pores to trap carbon away.

For the experiment, the researchers injected carbonized water into dunite, which was ground to grain size. Then, they measured fluid flow through the material. Following the experiments, they discovered an impressive ability to trap carbon.

“The cracking extended the duration of the reaction and enhanced the rock’s carbon storage capacity,” writes Eos. 

After 35 days, the researchers discovered the dunite fractured and continued to trap more carbon.

“To see the carbon reaction continue after 35 days ‘is pretty amazing,'” said geophysicist Catalina Sanchez-Roa. “It is the first time that we have seen the cracking happening in experiments.”

Possible Large-Scale Carbon Storage Solution

In future experiments, Sanchez-Roa will explore using unprocessed natural rocks, the effects of temperature on mineralization, and more qualities of dunite. 

“We’re finding new things every time that we do an experiment,” she said. “And now we’re hoping to find a way to optimize this process so we can help implement more pilot projects around the world.”

Possibly, the research may lead to one day engineering a large-scale carbon storage solution. Interestingly, byproducts of the process are magnesite and silica, possibly with commercial uses.

Peridot olivine with minor pyroxene, on vesicular basalt by Pyrope via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

Related: Scientists Create ‘Living Concrete’ That Looks Like ‘Frankenstein Material’ and Could One Day Be Used on Mars

Green Beaches and Project Vesta

Nonprofit Project Vesta,  a group of scientists working to reverse climate change, has previously suggested using olivine sands in the ocean. In other words, green sand beaches, a real “emerald coast,” similar to Green Sand Beach in Hawaii.

Image screenshot/YouTube

Coast Carbon Capture

First, the researchers are conducting extensive tests with “Coast Carbon Capture” to ensure its safety for ecosystems.

“Earth’s natural cycles of regulating CO2 levels have been pushed out of balance,” says Project Vesta co-founder Kelly Erhart. “Due to humanity’s excessive industrial activity, we’ve tipped the scale, for now emitting more than 50 times more CO2 than the Earth’s natural cycle can sequester on its own. We want to mimic Earth’s natural carbon cycle and accelerate it.” 

Related: What the Hope and Indigenous Elders Say Abou Earth’s Tipping Point

With the green sand beaches, CO2 is trapped while also helping counter ocean acidification. Thus, it might also help save coral reef systems.

Video by Project Vesta:

When seen close up, dunite takes on a rainbow of colors in cross-polarized light. See below:

Featured image: Olivine by Rob Lavinsky via Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 with screenshot via YouTube

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