Volcanic rocks help turn carbon emissions to stone — and fast | Science News

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Volcanic rocks help turn carbon emissions to stone — and fast

Pumping CO2 into basalt offers advantage over similar methods to combat climate change

3:13pm, June 9, 2016
Iceland rocks

HARD ROCK  A pilot program in Iceland successfully transformed carbon dioxide emissions from a geothermal power plant into solid rock by injecting the greenhouse gas into basaltic lava rocks (shown here).

A new technique turns climate-warming carbon emissions to stone. In a test program in Iceland, more than 95 percent of the carbon dioxide injected into basaltic lava rocks mineralized into solid rock within two years. This surprisingly fast transformation quarantined the CO2 from the atmosphere and could ultimately help offset society’s greenhouse gas emissions, scientists report in the June 10 Science.

“It’s working, it’s feasible and it’s fast enough to be a permanent solution for storing CO2 emissions,” says study coauthor Juerg Matter, a geochemist at the University of Southampton in England.

Many existing carbon storage schemes pump CO2 underground, though the approach has been prone to leaks. Targeting basalt, the cooled remains of volcanic outpourings, may offer an advantage over other types of rock. As much as 25 percent of basalt is made up of

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