Gypsum precipitation under saline conditions: Thermodynamics, kinetics, morphology, and size distribution

Amit G. Reiss, Ittai Gavrieli, Yoav O. Rosenberg, Itay J. Reznik, Andreas Luttge, Simon Emmanuel, Jiwchar Ganor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O) is the most common sulfate mineral on Earth and is also found on Mars. It is an evaporitic mineral that predominantly precipitates from brines. In addition to its precipitation in natural environments, gypsum also forms an undesired scale in many industrial processes that utilize or produce brines. Thus, better insights into gypsum formation can contribute to the understanding of natural processes, as well as improving industrial practices. Subsequently, the thermodynamics, nucleation and crystal growth mechanisms and kinetics, and how these factors shape the morphology of gypsum have been widely studied. Over the last decade, the precipitation of gypsum under saline and hypersaline conditions has been the focus of several studies. However, to date, most of the thermodynamic data are derived from experiments with artificial solutions that have limited background electrolytes and have Ca2+/SO42− ratios that are similar to the 1:1 ratio in the mineral. Moreover, direct observations of the nucleation and growth processes of gypsum are still derived from experimental settings that can be described as having low ionic strength. Thus, the mechanisms of gypsum precipitation under conditions from which the mineral precipitates in many natural environments and industrial processes are still less well known. The present review focuses on the precipitation of gypsum from a range of aspects. Special attention is given to brines. The effects of ionic strength, brine composition, and temperature on the thermodynamic settings are broadly discussed. The mechanisms and rates of gypsum nucleation and growth, and the effect the thermodynamic properties of the brine have on these processes is demonstrated by recent microscopic and macroscopic observations. The morphology and size distribution of gypsum crystals precipitation is examined in the light of the precipitation processes that shape these properties. Finally, the present review highlights discrepancies between microscopic and macroscopic observations, and studies carried out under low and high ionic strengths. The special challenges posed by experiments with brines are also discussed. Thus, while this review covers contemporary literature, it also outlines further research that is required in order to improve our understanding of gypsum precipitation in natural environments and industrial settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141
Pages (from-to)1-38
Number of pages38
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • Calcium sulfate dihydrate
  • Evaporitic environments
  • Gypsum crystal growth
  • Gypsum morphology
  • Gypsum nucleation
  • Saline environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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