Enhanced weathering in croplands could help to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and deposit it in the ocean as bicarbonate by utilising the Earth’s natural cycle to remove CO2 from the atmosphere: silicate rock weathering.
This inorganic pathway has been the subject of numerous studies. In the soil environment, however, the basalt and its weathering products will interact with the wide variety of organic molecules present in the soils. Organic acids could enhance the dissolution of basalt. The weathering products, a series of short range order minerals and clays, can then bind with organic matter to increase the organic carbon concentration in soils. Not only could this provide a new carbon storage pathway as a consequence of enhanced weathering, but also help to restore poor-quality soils around the world.
Amy’s research will focus on quantifying the stabilisation mechanisms of organic carbon in cropland soils amended with basalt through experiments and a suite of geochemical analyses. Her experiments will aim to derive kinetic parameters of important basalt/weathering product-organic matter interactions and she will also help study samples from two of the LC3M field sites in Illinois and Australia to test for changes in organic carbon content and stabilisation.
She graduated in 2017 from Cardiff University with an MESci Geology degree and completed her dissertation which attempted to constrain steel slag dissolution kinetics and from that attempted to calculate carbon capture potential of weathering steel slag.
Amy has joined LC3M as an ACCE (Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment) PhD student and has a CASE partnership with the British Geological Survey (BGS).