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Geochemical Dynamics of an Ephemeral Spring in Limestone, Red Bud Valley, Rogers County, Oklahoma
The composition of spring water issuing from a small cavern in the Oolagah Limestone at Red Bud Valley changes rapidly and systematically along its course. As the water flows down the hillside, pH steadily rises, bicarbonate alkalinity steadily decreases, and a white precipitate (CaCO3) appears in the stream bed 40 yards downstream from the cave mouth. These changes are consistent with thermodynamic predictions and result from the outgassing of CO2 as water flowing from the cave equilibrates with the atmosphere. Groundwater becomes charged with CO2 when rain water in the catchment area percolates through the soil and equilibrates with the CO2 produced by decaying organic matter. Downward percolation of the CO2-charged water into limestone dissolves CaCO3 and forms caves. Exposure of this water to the atmosphere causes spontaneous outgassing and the reprecipitation of CaCO3.
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