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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2022
  2. Previous work demonstrated that microbial Fe(III)-reduction contributes to void formation, and potentially cave formation within Fe(III)-rich rocks, such as banded iron formation (BIF), iron ore and canga (a surficial duricrust), based on field observations and static batch cultures. Microbiological Fe(III) reduction is often limited when biogenic Fe(II) passivates further Fe(III) reduction, although subsurface groundwater flow and the export of biogenic Fe(II) could alleviate this passivation process, and thus accelerate cave formation. Given that static batch cultures are unlikely to reflect the dynamics of groundwater flow conditions in situ , we carried out comparative batch and column experiments to extend ourmore »understanding of the mass transport of iron and other solutes under flow conditions, and its effect on community structure dynamics and Fe(III)-reduction. A solution with chemistry approximating cave-associated porewater was amended with 5.0 mM lactate as a carbon source and added to columns packed with canga and inoculated with an assemblage of microorganisms associated with the interior of cave walls. Under anaerobic conditions, microbial Fe(III) reduction was enhanced in flow-through column incubations, compared to static batch incubations. During incubation, the microbial community profile in both batch culture and columns shifted from a Proteobacterial dominance to the Firmicutes, including Clostridiaceae, Peptococcaceae, and Veillonellaceae, the latter of which has not previously been shown to reduce Fe(III). The bacterial Fe(III) reduction altered the advective properties of canga-packed columns and enhanced permeability. Our results demonstrate that removing inhibitory Fe(II) via mimicking hydrologic flow of groundwater increases reduction rates and overall Fe-oxide dissolution, which in turn alters the hydrology of the Fe(III)-rich rocks. Our results also suggest that reductive weathering of Fe(III)-rich rocks such as canga, BIF, and iron ores may be more substantial than previously understood.« less