Scientists aboard the Belgica make a major climate-related discovery


During the Belgian oceanographic vessel's mission to the far north, researchers discovered that the basalt present in the volcanic rock around Iceland could play a role in reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.

The Belgica, the brand new Belgian oceanographic vessel, has just spent a fortnight sailing around Iceland and its fjords during its two-month mission to the far north. They were particularly interested in the volcanic rock, very rich in basalt, which is very present in this region following the lava flows resulting from the numerous eruptions of volcanoes that are still active.

The Belgian scientists, from several of the country's universities, took cores of sediment from the bottom of the water in order to quantify the rate of CO2 absorption after the basalt has dissolved to form what is known as silicate. The result of their experiments is that if the weathering of silicates accelerated in the North Sea, the absorption of CO2 would increase as a result.

We already knew that the ocean can absorb much more CO2 than forests. We now know that the higher the alkalinity of the seas and oceans, the greater the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Several types of minerals could play such a role. Partnerships with players in the Belgian mining and marine industries are therefore envisaged to put this discovery into practice. 

Projects such as these will certainly help to reduce greenhouse gases, but they will only ever be part of the solution to a major climate problem for our planet.