An experimental study of aluminum-oxalate complexing at 80 °C indicates that the presence of oxalate in sedimentary basin fluids may play an important role in creating secondary porosity in reservoir rocks. The solubility of gibbsite was measured as a function of oxalate concentration. Geologically realistic oxalate concentrations were used in order to simulate the aluminum mobilities that occur in reservoir fluids. Although the stoichiometry of the important aluminum-oxalate species cannot be determined from these data, the results are used to quantify the minimum extent of aluminum-oxalate complexing that occurs in solution. Assuming that Al(Ox)33- is the only important aluminum-oxalate complex, the data limit the log of the dissociation constant of Al(Ox)33- to be ≤-16.5. Thermodynamic modeling of aluminum systems with fluids that contain NaCl, acetate, and oxalate illustrates that aluminum-oxalate complexing is much more important than aluminum-acetate complexing, even at relatively low oxalate concentrations and at very high acetate concentrations. In addition, these calculations show that aluminum-oxalate complexing can greatly increase aluminum mobility in formation waters and, therefore, may increase aluminosilicate mineral dissolution within sedimentary basin fluid-rock systems.

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