The formation of Mg-bearing calcite via an amorphous precursor is a poorly understood process that is of relevance for biogenic and abiogenic carbonate precipitation. In order to gain an improved insight on the controls of Mg incorporation in calcite formed via an Mg-rich amorphous calcium carbonate (Mg-ACC) precursor, the precipitation of Mg-ACC and its transformation to Mg-calcite was monitored by in situ Raman spectroscopy. The experiments were performed at 25.0 ± 0.03 °C and pH 8.3 ± 0.1 and revealed two distinct pathways of Mg-calcite formation: (i) At initial aqueous Mg/Ca molar ratios ⩽ 1:6, Mg-calcite formation occurs via direct precipitation from solution. (ii) Conversely, at higher initial Mg/Ca molar ratios, Mg-calcite forms via an intermediate Mg-rich ACC phase. In the latter case, the final product is a calcite with up to 20 mol% Mg. This Mg content is significant higher than that of the Mg-rich ACC precursor phase. Thus, a strong net uptake of Mg ions from the solution into the crystalline precipitate throughout and also subsequent to ACC transformation is postulated. Moreover, the temporal evolution of the geochemical composition of the reactive solution and the Mg-ACC has no significant effect on the obtained “solubility product” of Mg-ACC. The enrichment of Mg in calcite throughout and subsequent to Mg-ACC transformation is likely affected by the high aqueous Mg/Ca ratio and carbonate alkalinity concentrations in the reactive solution. The experimental results have a bearing on the formation mechanism of Mg-rich calcites in marine early diagenetic environments, where high carbonate alkalinity concentrations are the rule rather than the exception, and on the insufficiently investigated inorganic component of biomineralisation pathways in many calcite secreting organisms.
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