Thursday, September 23, 2010

Primary Sourse vs. Secondary Source

Cole Anderson

ENVS 1020

The article that I chose to look at is called Carbon Sequestration: Mineral carbonation in periotite for CO2 capture and storage (CCS). This article is the secondary literature, in this article they make reference to the primary literature which is from the the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. From reading the primary literature I though the claims made in the secondary literature are extremely generalized and I believe that the secondary literature suggests that this technology will be up and running in the near future, which I believe is not the case, after reading the primary literature.

In the secondary source, the only equation mentioned is the equation of the formation of magnesite. Magnesite is only one part of mantle peridotite. The components of which peridotite is made up of are: Magnesite, serpentine, and calcite. The secondary literature has narrowed down the topic by eliminating serpintine and calcite from the article, and in doing so the article now seems relatively easy to understand. The reader is now convinced scientists have found a way to perform carbon sequestration and this is where I think the author misleads the reader into thinking that this technology is available to us in the close future.

The secondary source has narrowed down the topic so much that I think it is almost impossible to form your own view on the situation. For example: The Carbon Sequestration article only talks about in situ carbonation as opposed to ex situ carbonation. What if in situ carbonation was not the best method of going about carbon sequestration and that ex situ carbonation is better? The reader of the secondary source would only know about in situ carbonation and therefore may come to the conclusion that in situ carbonation will not work and will not find this article helpful.

Secondary sources are the dumbed down versions of the primary text. The secondary source is lacking the detailed graphs and charts that the primary source has and without these it is hard to see anything else other than the author’s opinion. The secondary source claims that the reaction, once started, will maintain itself and in the primary source, it says nothing about a self -sustaining reaction. It says that there is actually a very complicated process involved and the secondary source makes it sound like carbon sequestration is way easier to perform than it actually is.

Even though there are many differences in the two sources, there are also many similarities. Both stay on the same train of thought because the secondary article is based off of the primary source. The primary source in this case explains that there are better ways to solve the problem of atmospheric CO2 due to humans after the industrial revolution. Both articles agree that carbon sequestration is the way to go about getting rid of this CO2.

Another claim that the secondary source makes is that the CO2 fluid can just be pumped into the rock. This article makes it sound like drilling kilometers under the ocean through the ocean floor is a simple task. The primary source actually outlines a complex drilling system that they would have to perfect in order for carbon sequestration to work. People would have to drill in order to make a hydraulic fracture and then pump hot CO2 fluid very fast through it and then pump colder CO2 through it in order to maintain the same temperature.

In my opinion the secondary source seems like it is for people with a lower level of knowledge towards the subject of the article and to really understand the article, you have to find the primary source and formulate your own understanding of the topic, then go back to the secondary source and see if you agree with the claims that the author has made. There will always be similarities and differences between the two articles, but in the end you should form your own idea and understanding of the topic. In this case, I have come to the conclusion that the claims made in the secondary source do not accurately portray what the author in the primary source was trying to say. I believe that carbon sequestration will need a lot more research and testing done before It is released to the general public based on the reason that the long term effects of carbon sequestration are not known.


Peter B. Kelemen, Jürg Matter, In Situ Carbonation of Periotite for CO2 Storage,Columbia University, Palisades, NY, september 22, 2008,

Kelemen, P.B., Kikawa, E., and Miller, Carbon Sequestration Mineral carbonation in Periotite for CO2 capture and Storage,

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