Nanoscale insight into the relation between pressure solution of calcite and interfacial friction

Binxin Fu, Yijue Diao, Rosa M. Espinosa-Marzal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pressure solution of carbonate-based rocks participates in many geophysical and geochemical processes, but fundamental knowledge of the interfacial processes is still lacking. By concurrently pressing and sliding two single calcite crystals past each other, the pressure solution rate and the friction force between the crystals were concurrently measured in calcium-carbonate saturated water with an extended surface forces apparatus. These studies reveal that both a decrease and an increase in frictional strength can originate from the pressure-solution of calcite single crystals. By conducting nanoscale force measurements with an atomic force microscope, ion specific effects were unveiled at the level of a single asperity. Pressure solution is promoted when the interfacial water layers of calcite remain undisturbed under stress (e.g. with Ca(II)) and the dissolved ions and water lubricate the interface – a phenomenon called pressure-solution facilitated slip. The mechanically induced disruption of the hydration layers of the calcite surface (e.g. with Mg(II) and low Ni(II) concentration) correlates with the more fluid-like and lubricious behavior of the confined fluid in the absence of pressure solution. Charge neutralization of the calcite surface leads to an abrupt change of calcite's hydration layers, which promotes pressure-solution facilitated slip. This work advances the fundamental understanding of physicochemical interactions occurring at confined surfaces of stressed calcite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-264
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Colloid And Interface Science
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Atomic Force Microscope
  • Calcite
  • Friction
  • Pressure solution
  • Surface Forces Apparatus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Biomaterials
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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