One of the goals of research on the effects of acidic deposition on carbonate stone surfaces is to define the incremental impact of acidic deposition relative to natural weathering processes on the rate of carbonate stone erosion. If rain that impacts carbonate stone surfaces is resident on the surface long enough to approach chemical equilibrium, the incremental effect of hydrogen ion is expected to be small (i.e., 6% for a rain of pH 4.0). Under nonequilibrium (i.e., high flow rate) conditions, kinetic considerations suggest that the incremental effect of hydrogen ion deposition could be quite significant. Field run-off experiments involving the chemical analysis of rain collected from inclined stone slabs have been used to evaluate stone dissolution processes under ambient conditions of wet and dry deposition of acidic species. The stoichiometry of the reaction of stone with hydrogen ion is difficult to define from the field data due to scatter in the data attributed to hydrodynamic effects. Laboratory run-off experiments show that the stoichiometry is best defined by a reaction with H+ in which CO2 is released from the system. The baseline effect caused by water in equilibrium with atmospheric CO2 is identical in the field and in laboratory simulation. The experiments show that the solutions are close enough to equilibrium for the incremental effect of hydrogen ion to be minor (i.e., 24% for marble for a rain of pH 4.0) relative to dissolution due to water and carbonic acid reactions. Stone erosion rates based on physical measurement are approximately double the recession rates that are due to dissolution (estimated from the observed calcium content of the run-off solutions). The difference may reflect the loss of granular material not included in recession estimates based on the run-off data. Neither the field nor the laboratory run-off experiments indicate a pH dependence for the grain-removal process.
Additional publication details
The erosion of carbonate stone by acid rain: Laboratory and field investigations