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Title: Tidal pumping and biogeochemical processes: Dissolution within the tidal capillary fringe of eogenetic coastal carbonates

Growing evidence suggests microbial respiration of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) may be a principal driver of subsurface dissolution and cave formation in eogenetic carbonate rock. Analyses of samples of vadose zone gasses, and geochemical and hydrological data collected from shallow, uncased wells on San Salvador Island, Bahamas, suggest tidally varying water tables may help fuel microbial respiration and dissolution through oxygenation. Respiration of soil organic carbon transported to water tables generates dysaerobic to anaerobic groundwater, limiting aerobic microbial processes. Positive correlations of carbon dioxide (CO2), radon‐222 (222Rn) and water table elevation indicate, however, that tidal pumping of water tables pulls atmospheric air that is rich in oxygen, and low in CO2and222Rn, into contact with the tidal capillary fringe during falling tides. Ratios of CO2and O2in vadose gas relative to the atmosphere indicate this atmospheric oxygen fuels respiration within newly‐exposed, wetted bedrock. Deficits of expected CO2relative to O2concentrations indicate some respired CO2is likely removed by carbonate mineral dissolution. Tidal pumping also appears capable of transferring oxygen to the freshwater lens, where it could also contribute to respiration and dissolution; dissolved oxygen concentrations at the water table are at least 5% saturated and decline to anaerobic conditions 1–2 m below. Our results demonstrate how tidal pumping of air to vadose zones can drive mineral dissolution reactions that are focused near water tables and may contribute to the formation of laterally continuous vuggy horizons and potentially caves. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 2675-2688
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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