Research project

Greenhouse Gas Removal via Enhanced Rock Weathering (GGREW)

Project overview

To limit the increase in global temperature to less than 2 °C, “negative emissions”, or the active removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, are required. Weathering, the chemical breakdown (dissolution) of rocks at the Earth’s surface, is a natural process that converts atmospheric carbon dioxide into carbonate minerals or hydrogen carbonate and carbonate ions (“alkalinity”). If the weathering process can be speeded up, or enhanced, then levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide would fall.

Mining of precious commodities, such as diamonds and gold, provides a continuous supply of freshly ground up rock material which, under the right conditions, could be easily weathered, removing atmospheric CO2 in the process.

Our project aims to provide critical knowledge to answer the following questions:
• Are rocks left over from extracting precious metals suitable for capturing carbon dioxide on human timescales?
• Are there low-cost engineering solutions that can be used to accelerate the weathering process?
• How much carbon dioxide could potentially be captured?

We are addressing these questions through identification of the most easily weatherable mine waste materials, the testing of physical, chemical and biological methods for speeding up weathering kinetics, and an investigation into the availability of (suitable) rock materials at mine sites on a national and global scale.


Lead researcher

Professor Rachael James

Professor of Geochemistry

Research interests

  • Enhanced rock weathering and other techniques for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • Novel isotopic signatures of biogeochemical cycling, including iron, chromium, lithium and magnesium, and the response of biogeochemcal cycles to global environmental change
  • Exploration for new sources of metals and elements critical for emerging green technologies, including lithium and the rare earth elements
Connect with Rachael
Other researchers

Professor Damon Teagle

Director of SMMI

Research interests

  • • Formation and evolution of the ocean crust
  • • Fluid-rock interactions and Ore mineralisation
  • • Geochemical analysis
Connect with Damon

Professor Juerg Matter

Professor of Geoengineering&Carbon Manag
Connect with Juerg

Dr Phyllis Lam

Associate Professor

Research interests

  • Dr. Lam's research interest lies in the functional roles of microorganisms in biogeochemical cycling, particularly the nitrogen and carbon cycles, in diverse marine and aquatic systems. In collaboration with researchers inside and outside the university, her work integrates state-of-the-art molecular ecological techniques, stable isotopic analyses, process rate measurements, hypothesis-driven experimentation and modelling, to disentangle complex microbial interactions and their impacts on biogeochemical environments especially in the context of global change.
  • Current research topics include:
  • Shortcuts in the nitrogen cycle – novel pathways and microbial players for nitrogen remineralisation in the ocean’s twilight zoneMicrobial carbon remineralisation pathways and fluxes in the mesopelagic oceanUsing proteomics tools to disentangle active microbial nitrogen and carbon cycling processes in oceanic oxygen minimum zonesImportance of particle-associated microeukaryotes on the efficiency of oceanic biological carbon pumpMicrobial production and consumption pathways of greenhouse gases
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Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs

Chiara Marieni, Juerg M. Matter & Damon A.H. Teagle, 2020, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 272, 259-275
Type: article
David Edwards, Felix Lim, Rachael James, Christopher Pearce, Julie Scholes, Robert Freckleton & David Beerling, 2017, Biology Letters, 13(4)
Type: article