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Encyclopedia > Serpentinization

Serpentinization is a geological metamorphic process involving heat and water in which low-silica mafic and ultramafic rocks are oxidized and hydrolyzed with water into serpentinite. The peridotites and dunites of the seafloor are converted to serpentine and magnetite. In the process large amounts of water are absorbed into the rock increasing the volume and destroying the structure. The density changes from 3.3 to 2.7 g/cm3 with a concurrent volume increase of about 40%. The reaction is exothermic and large amounts of heat energy are produced in the process. Rock temperatures can be raised by about 260 oC. The chemical reactions producing the magnetite produces hydrogen gas. Sulfates and carbonates are reduced and form methane and hydrogen sulfide. The hydrogen, methane, and hydrogen sulfide provide energy sources for deep sea microorganisms. Metamorphic rock is the result of the transformation of a pre-existing rock type, the protolith, in a process called metamorphism, which means change in form, derived from the Greek words meta, change, and morphe, form. The protolith is subjected to extreme heat (>150 degrees Celsius) and pressure causing profound... The chemical compound silicon dioxide, also known as silica, is the oxide of silicon, chemical formula SiO2. ... In geology, mafic minerals are silicate minerals, magmas, and volcanic and intrusive igneous rocks that have relatively high concentrations of the heavier elements. ... Ultramafic rocks are igneous rocks with very low silica content (less than 45%) and are composed of usually greater than 90% mafic minerals (dark colored, high magnesium and iron content). ... The most fundamental reactions in chemistry are the redox processes. ... Hydrolysis is a chemical process in which a molecule is cleaved into two parts by the addition of a molecule of water. ... Serpentinite is a rock comprised of an admixture of serpentine minerals. ... Peridotite Peridotite is a dense, coarse grained ultrabasic rock, consisting mainly of the minerals olivine and pyroxene. ... Dunite is an igneous, plutonic rock, of ultramafic composition, with coarse grained or phaneritic texture. ... Serpentine Serpentine is a group of common rock-forming hydrous magnesium iron phyllosilicate ((Mg,Fe)3Si2O5(OH)4) minerals. ... Magnetite is a magnetic mineral form of both iron(II) oxide and iron(III) oxide or (iron(II,III) oxide), with chemical formula , one of several iron oxides and a member of the spinel group. ... Sulfate is the IUPAC name for the SO42- ion, consisting of a central sulfur atom single bonded to four tetrahedrally oriented oxygen atoms. ... Carbonate is an anion with a charge of -2 and an empirical formula of CO32-. An aqueous solution of carbon dioxide contains a minute amount of H2CO3, called carbonic acid, which dissociates to form hydrogen ions and carbonate ions. ... The simplest hydrocarbon, methane, is a gas with a chemical formula of CH4. ... For other meaning link to H2S radar. ...

See also

An actively venting calcium carbonate chimney in the Lost City hudrothermal field Lost City is a field of hydrothermal vents in in the mid-Atlantic ocean that differ significanly from the black smoker vents described in the late 1970s. ...


  • Serpentinization: The Heat Engine at Lost City and Sponge of the Oceanic Crust (http://www.lostcity.washington.edu/science/chemistry/serpentinization.html)
  • H2-rich fluids from serpentinization: Geochemical and biotic implications (http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/101/35/12818)

  Results from FactBites:
Serpentine Grasslands - Natural Communities - Wildlife & Heritage Service (2004 words)
Serpentine, or serpentinite, is a mineral producing dry, nutrient-poor soil deadly to plants not specially adapted to its unusual chemistry.
Serpentine grasslands are not as rich in species or as densely vegetated as many other Piedmont habitats.
Since the inhospitable serpentine soils were often the last areas to be forested, the serpentine grasslands were valued by settlers for livestock forage.
Serpentine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (953 words)
Serpentine is said to owe its name either to its serpent-like colours and patterns or from an old belief that the stones were effective protection from snake bites.
Soils derived from serpentine are toxic to many plants due to their high mineral content, and the flora is generally very distinctive, with specialised, slow-growing species.
Serpentines find use in industry for a number of purposes, such as railway ballasts, building materials, and the asbestiform types find use as thermal and electrical insulation (chrysotile asbestos).
  More results at FactBites »



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