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Christen Strollo Gordon, Chemistry


Mineral dust has a large effect on cloud formation and ultimately the climate. Several studies have shown the addition of acid to these mineral dust particles decreases their ability to nucleate ice. This study explores what chemistry occurs between common components of mineral dust particles and sulfuric acid. Hematite (Fe2O3), calcite (CaCO3), and quartz (SiO2) were exposed to sulfuric acid, and then analyzed using a combination of Attenuated Total Reflectance-FTIR, Diffuse Reflectance-FTIR Spectroscopy, X-Ray Diffraction, and Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy to identify functional groups, mineral species, and aqueous phase elements. Quartz did not react with sulfuric acid. Calcite and hematite react readily with sulfuric acid to produce bassanite (CaSO41/2H2O) and rhomboclase (H3O+) Fe(SO4)2•(H2O)3 respectively. Knowing how sulfuric acid affects these common mineral dust particles helps us understand how they age in the atmosphere and the effect on climate from this aging. Future experiments will explore other mineral dust components and eventually relate what chemical changes affected ice nucleation abilities.

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