Data on dissolution, diffusion, and growth in the quartz-water system show that diffusion through grain-boundary films is rate limiting for solution transfer and too slow to permit significant compaction in geologic time, but that rates are more reasonable if the rough texture of natural grain boundaries is considered. On the basis of scanning electron microscope observations, a model is proposed that uses a hierarchical plumbing system in which grain boundaries consist of islands capped by grain-boundary films, separated by microcapillaries, and connected to intergranular porosity. A rate law based on such a model has an inverse grain-size dependence up to a critical grain size that is large (>>10 cm) under typical compaction conditions.

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