- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
Water is a truly unique substance in many respects. It is the only chemical compound that naturally occurs in all three physical states (solid, liquid and vapor) under the thermodynamic conditions typical to the Earth’s surface. It plays the principal role in virtually any significant geological and biological processes on our planet. Its outstanding properties as a solvent and its general abundance almost everywhere on the Earth’s surface has made it also an integral part of many technological processes since the very beginning of the human civilization.
Aqueous fluids are crucial for the transport and enrichment of ore-forming constituents (Barnes 1997; Planetary Fluids 1990). Quantitative analysis of hydrothermal and metamorphic processes requires information on the physical-chemical, thermodynamic and transport properties of the fluid phases involved (Helgeson 1979, 1981; Sverjensky 1987; Eugster and Baumgartner 1987; Seward and Barnes 1997). These processes encompass a broad range of pressure and temperature conditions and, therefore, detailed understanding of the pressure and temperature dependencies of density, heat capacity, viscosity, diffusivities, and other related properties is necessary in order to develop realistic models of fluid behavior or fluid-mineral interactions.
Aqueous fluids under high-pressure, high-temperature conditions near and above the critical point of water (P = 22.1 MPa and T = 647 K) are especially important in a variety of geochemical processes. Due to the large compressibility of supercritical fluid, small changes in pressure can produce very substantial changes in density, which, in turn, affect diffusivity, viscosity, dielectric, and solvation properties, thus dramatically influencing the kinetics and mechanisms of chemical reactions in water. Models of hydrothermal convection suggest that the near-critical conditions provide an optimal convective behavior due to unique combination of thermodynamic and transport properties in this region of the phase diagram of water (Norton 1984; Jupp and Schultz 2000 …