Engineering Earth pp 2201-2206 | Cite as

Olivine Hills: Mineral Water Against Climate Change

  • Roelof D. SchuilingEmail author
  • Elke Praagman


Rainwaters passing through olivine-bearing rocks are transformed into magnesium-bicarbonate mineral waters, thereby capturing CO2 in a safe and sustainable way. It is estimated that this weathering of mafic and ultramafic rocks (silicate rocks rich in magnesium and calcium) accounts for an annual sequestration in the order of 2–2.5 billion tons of CO2. In preindustrial times this was enough to balance the input of CO2 from the Earth’s mantle. On a truly megaengineering scale we propose to restore the balance by enhancing the rate of weathering of such rocks worldwide. As a small, but very visible part of this approach every town in the world that is genuinely concerned about climate change should erect a large hill of olivine powder in an attractive location in or around the town. Rain, or a nice fountain on the hilltop should provide water that will pass first through the topsoil and then through the olivine powder. When the water reacts with the olivine it will sequester CO2. If any CO2 -rich stack gases are available nearby, these can be injected near the bottom of the olivine pile in order to make the capture of CO2 even more effective. As a bonus it can be mentioned that magnesium bicarbonate waters are very healthy, notably effective against cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Olivine hills could also be constructed as a refuge in times of flooding, thus combining adaptation and mitigation on a modest scale.


Mineral Water Carbon Capture Steel Slag Soil Atmosphere Bicarbonate Water 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of GeosciencesUniversity of UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands

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