Dimensions of plagioclase (An65) crystals in a polished thin section of naturally weathered 3400 y old Hawaiian basalt were measured by scanning electron microscopy (in backscattered electron imaging mode). The three-dimensional shape, size, volume and surface area of the plagioclase crystals were then estimated using the method of Morgan and Jerram (2006). The weathering rate of plagioclase (mass loss divided by initial geometric surface area during 3400 y) is − 12.116 log10 mol m−2 s−1. This weathering rate represents a time span (3.4 ka) intermediate between laboratory experimental timescales and the ages of regoliths in field studies of natural weathering rates. Weathering rates of the same plagioclase are recalculated using different assumptions concerning the method of estimating surface area, including simple geometric surface area and geometric surface area adjusted for surface roughness. Varying assumptions about surface area result in variations of up to two orders of magnitude in rates estimated from the same basic crystal geometry. The slowest rate estimated here approaches but does not fall within the range of previously determined field rates of plagioclase weathering.