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Extreme Carbon Dioxide Concentrations in Acidic Pit Lakes Provoked by Water/Rock Interaction

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journal contribution
posted on 15.04.2014, 00:00 by Javier Sánchez-España, Bertram Boehrer, Iñaki Yusta
We quantify the gas pressure and concentration of a gas-charged acidic pit lake in SW Spain. We measured total dissolved gas pressure, carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, major ion concentration, isotopic composition of dissolved inorganic carbon (δ13CDIC), and other physicochemical parameters. CO2 is the dominant dissolved gas in this lake and results mainly from carbonate dissolution during the interaction of acidic water with wall rocks, followed by diffusive and advective transport through the water column. The δ13CDIC values suggest that the biological contribution is comparatively small. Maximum CO2 concentrations higher than 0.1 M (∼5000 mg/L) have been measured, which are only comparable to those found in volcanic crater lakes. The corresponding gas pressures of CO2 alone (pCO2 ∼3.6 bar) imply 60% saturation relative to local pressure at 50 m depth. High CO2 concentrations have been observed in other pit lakes of the region. We recommend gas-specific monitoring in acidic pit lakes and, if necessary, the design of feasible degassing strategies.