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Abstract

Mineral-water interactions are of fundamental importance in controlling the behavior of many natural and engineered earth systems. The processes of weathering and soil development, secondary precipitation and dissolution associated with diagenesis, oil field reservoir behavior, swelling properties of clay liners, and sorption of organic and inorganic contaminants are each influenced by mineral chemistry and physical properties. Until recently, investigations of processes occurring at mineral-water interfaces have necessarily relied upon experimental studies which measured changes in bulk solution chemical composition and/or made comparisons of initial mineral reactants with final reaction products. These methods give our current understanding of mineral solution interactions and behavior while also showing the tremendous complexity and heterogeneity of reacting mineral surfaces. Even from this knowledge base, our understanding of reaction processes continues to be severely limited at every scale from the time-dependent dynamics of macroscopic growth processes to the detailed kinetics and mechanisms of mineral-water reactions at the molecular level. With the recent invention of scanning force microscopy (SFM) and Fluid Cell attachments, it is now possible to span length scales from topographic to molecular and directly observe many different kinds of interfacial processes as they occur in aqueous solutions.

The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the use of the Fluid Cell in SFM as a promising technique that complements traditional surface analysis and bulk geochemical methods in studies of mineral-water interactions. Our focus on the Fluid Cell necessarily limits us from considering other scanning probe techniques such as tapping mode, non-contact mode, magnetic or

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