How Oman's carbon-capturing rocks can help save the Earth

If the process uncovered in the Gulf can be scaled up it could remove millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide every year

In the rocky deserts of Oman, scientists have discovered something special that might hold the key to combating the extinction-level threat we face from climate change.

The world is facing rising temperatures, worsening weather and species extinction caused by the warming of the planet due to burning fossil fuels.

We have reached a point that scientists believe by the middle of the century we won't need to have just cut carbon emissions to nearly zero but be actively removing the carbon we’ve already burned from the air.

So, how do you go about doing that?

Most carbon capture methods that have been tried involve pumping Co2 deep underground into spent mineshafts or oil wells. Experts say it’s an imperfect solution, the gasses may leak out over time.

But now, scientists in Iceland are testing the application of a discovery made in Oman. Using natural rocks that have an amazing carbon capture property.

Peridotite thrust up from the earth’s mantle millions of years ago causes a chemical reaction that, over time, converts the Co2 into a mineral.

This week on Beyond the Headlines, we spoke to Dr Juerg Matter, the associate professor of geoengineering at Southampton University in the UK, about the discovery he worked on and the process that is happening naturally every day.

We also spoke to Martin Voigt and Deirdre Clark from the University of Iceland who are part of CarbFix about their pilot project for the process discovered in Oman on a geothermal power plant near Reykjavik.

Mr Voigt and Ms Clark said that in the trial, 70 per cent of the Co2 pumped underground had been mineralised within a couple of years.

Now, they and others are looking for ways to scale the process up and they hope it could become a central element in fighting climate change by removing millions or even billions of tons of Co2 from the atmosphere.

To listen again to last week's episode, click here: