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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Prof Jon Gluyas

Yuan, Guanghui, Cao, Yingchang, Schulz, Hans-Martin, Hao, Fang, Gluyas, Jon, Liu, Keyu, Yang, Tian, Wang, Yanzhong, Xi, Kelai & Li, Fulai (2019). A review of feldspar alteration and its geological significance in sedimentary basins: From shallow aquifers to deep hydrocarbon reservoirs. Earth-Science Reviews 191: 114-140.

Author(s) from Durham


The feldspar group is one of the most common types of minerals in the earth's crust. Feldspar alteration (including the whole processes of feldspar dissolution, transfer of released solutes, and secondary mineral precipitation) is ubiquitous and important in fields including resources and environmental sciences. This paper provides a critical review of feldspar alteration and its geological significance in shallow aquifers to deep hydrocarbon reservoirs, as assessed from peer-reviewed paper in the literature.

A variety of mechanisms such as the surface reaction-controlled dissolution mechanism, the preferential leaching-diffusion controlled mechanism, the diffusion-precipitation controlled dissolution mechanism and the interfacial dissolution-reprecipitation mechanism have been proposed to be responsible for the dissolution of feldspars. Feldspar dissolution rates can be affected by the crystal structure, Al/Si ordering, temperature, pH, surface area, organic acids, chemical affinity, and precipitation of secondary minerals. Five main dissolution rate laws have been used to describe feldspar dissolution rates, including the linear transition state theory (L-TST) rate law, non-linear TST rate law, parallel rate law, stepwave model rate law, and partial equilibrium law. The rate inconsistency between laboratory experiments and field observations is interpreted with hypotheses that include the armoring effects of the coating secondary minerals on feldspar surfaces, the possible effects of leached layers, the approach to saturation with respect to feldspars, the inhibition by absorbed Al3+ on the feldspar surface, and the inhibition by simultaneous slow clay precipitation rates.

The inorganic-original (meteoric water and deep hot water) and organic-original (kerogen and hydrocarbon degradation) hydrogen ion (H+) in a fluid can probably act as a significant catalyzer of fast dissolution of feldspars in shallow aquifers and deep hydrocarbon reservoirs. Various mineral assemblages including extensively leached feldspars with a wide range of associated amounts of clay minerals and quartz cements can be identified in subsurface reservoirs under different geological conditions. Feldspar dissolution can generate enhanced secondary porosities and rock permeability in open geochemical systems at shallow depth or at a moderate-deep depth where faults develop widely. While in closed geochemical systems at moderate-deep depth, feldspar dissolution is likely to generate redistributional secondary porosities and to decrease rock permeability. Authigenic clay minerals formed following feldspar dissolution alter rock wettability and affect the charging and entrapment of hydrocarbons in reservoir. Feldspar alteration may promote hydrocarbon degradation by promoting bioactivity or by consuming low molecular weight organic acids and CO2 produced via oil degradation. Further work should be conducted to study hydrocarbon-water-feldspar interactions in deeply buried hydrocarbon reservoirs. Feldspar alteration may promote CO2 sequestration by consumption of H+, generation of HCO3−, and pH buffering of formation water. K-feldspar alteration may also promote illitization in interbedded mudstones by supplying K+.