- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
Fluid-rock interaction (or water-rock interaction, as it was more commonly known) is a subject that has evolved considerably in its scope over the years. Initially its focus was primarily on interactions between subsurface fluids of various temperatures and mostly crystalline rocks, but the scope has broadened now to include fluid interaction with all forms of subsurface materials, whether they are unconsolidated or crystalline (“fluid-solid interaction” is perhaps less euphonious). Disciplines that previously carried their own distinct names, for example, basin diagenesis, early diagenesis, metamorphic petrology, reactive contaminant transport, chemical weathering, are now considered to fall under the broader rubric of fluid-rock interaction, although certainly some of the key research questions differ depending on the environment considered.
Beyond the broadening of the environments considered in the study of fluid-rock interaction, the discipline has evolved in perhaps an even more important way. The study of water-rock interaction began by focusing on geochemical interactions in the absence of transport processes, although a few notable exceptions exist (Thompson 1959; Weare et al. 1976). Moreover, these analyses began by adopting a primarily thermodynamic approach, with the implicit or explicit assumption of equilibrium between the fluid and rock. As a result, these early models were fundamentally static rather than dynamic in nature. This all changed with the seminal papers by Helgeson and his co-workers (Helgeson 1968; Helgeson et al. 1969) wherein the concept of an irreversible reaction path was formally introduced into the geochemical literature. In addition to treating the reaction network as a dynamically evolving system, the Helgeson studies introduced an approach that allowed for the consideration of a multicomponent geochemical system, with multiple minerals and species appearing as both reactants and products, at least one of which could be irreversible. Helgeson’s pioneering approach was given a more formal kinetic basis (including the …