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Reequilibriation of a System Disturbed from Stable Equilibria

  1. Apr 28, 2012 #1

    Somewhat of a strange, but possibly profitable question!

    I'm aware that a system that is at a stable equilibrium point will, upon a disturbance, return to that equilibrium.

    Consider the Earth's oceans, which is essentially a multicomponent homogeneous mixture, or a multicomponent solution.


    If you had a "metal-loving bacteria colony" densely concentrated in a small, say an imaginary spherical region 100 m undersea with a diameter of 1 cm or so that precipitates a specific metal ion out of solution at a fairly high rate (not sure what that would be), so that the bacteria are coated with solid metal, and these metal coated bacteria sink down because of their higher density, would the time that it took for the depressed metal ion concentration within that imaginary sphere to rise back up to about 99% of the initial concentration be, in your view, be so short that you couldn't really precipitate the metal fast enough even if you really tried (it re-equilibriates very quickly), so long that that spherical region would, even with complete ceasing of bacterial precipitation, remain depressed in its concentration (relative to the equilibrium concentration), or somewhere in between?

    Are the Earth's oceans homogeneous mixtures/solutions in that the total/aggregate solute concentration is uniform throughout the volume of the ocean, or is it the "stronger" condition of each component, that is, each cation and anion being uniformly dissolved; i.e., so that the chloride and the sodium ions are both homogeneously dissolved?

    If the answer to the first question is with a dissolved ion that is present at a very low equilibrium concentration, say that of strontium or gold ion, will the rate of replenishment and re-equilibriation of the imaginary spherical region be smaller in linear proportion to the ratio of the chloride ion equilibrium concentration to the gold ion equilibrium concentration?

    What parameters does the diffusion rate through this imaginary sphere depend on? Would the relationship be given by Fick's 2nd law?

    Thanks a lot!
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
  2. jcsd
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