The zeta potential of quartz: Surface complexation modelling to elucidate high salinity measurements

Philippe Leroy* (Corresponding Author), Alexis Maineult, Shuai Li, Jan Vinogradov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The zeta potential is a measureable electrical potential of paramount importance to understand the electrochemical properties of rocks. However, the zeta potential remains poorly understood because it takes place at the nanoscale of the electrical double layer on the mineral surface. Streaming potential measurements on quartz-rich Fontainebleau and Lochaline sandstones carried out at high salinity (above 0.1M NaCl) yield surprisingly high zeta potential values, which cannot be correctly reproduced by a traditional surface complexation model considering that the shear plane is located at the beginning of the diffuse layer. We found that placing the shear plane, where the zeta potential is defined, slightly closer to the mineral surface than the Stern plane significantly improves the predictions of the zeta potential and surface charge density of quartz at high salinity as well as the values of the equilibrium constant describing sodium adsorption in the Stern layer. Our results have strong implications for the modelling of the electrochemical properties of minerals in contact with highly saline solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number129507
Number of pages12
JournalColloids and Surfaces. A, Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
Early online date27 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

The research work of Shuai Li is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 41974089) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (China University of Geosciences, Wuhan), China (grant no. CUGGC04). Philippe Leroy acknowledges the internal funding from the French Geological Survey (BRGM) (CHIPPY project no. RP20DEP087) and the support from Francis Claret for his research work as well as the fruitful scientific discussions with Arnault Lassin. The authors also sincerely acknowledge Paul Glover for sending the SEM micrographs of Fontainebleau and Lochaline rocks and for fruitful discussions.


  • zeta potential
  • quartz
  • streaming potential
  • high salinity
  • shear plane location


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