Originally published in U.S Geoological Survey Karst Interest Group Proceedings August 20-22, 2002. Credit U.S. Geological Survey Department of Interior/USGS


Karst flow systems formed in carbonate rocks have been recognized as a sink for atmospheric carbon that originates as gaseous carbon dioxide and ends up as dissolved aqueous carbon, primarily as bicarbonate. While measurements of the magnitude of the sink associated with carbonate rock dissolution have assumed that half of the dissolved inorganic carbon leaving a given catchment comes from the mineral and half from the atmosphere, consideration of the kinetics of carbonate mineral dissolution in acid solutions suggests that the ratio is enriched in mineral-source carbon to an extent that depends on the geochemical environment of mineral/fluid contact. After developing a methodology for precise field measurement of both the magnitude of this sink as well as the partitioning of inorganic carbon sources in south central Kentucky, in 2001 we initiated a long-term project to improve understanding and estimates of the sink with a global monitoring network. The first two new stations and methodology are described herein. In addition to the existing Kentucky sites, we are now making high-resolution measurements in the Mineral King Valley, an alpine marble catchment within California's Sierra Nevada, at an elevation from 2,400 to 3,650 m, and at Spring 31 of the Karst Dynamics Laboratory's experimental research site near Guilin, China. This humid-subtropical site drains an area of peak cluster tower karst at an elevation from 150 to 450 m, and is considerably warmer and wetter than south central Kentucky. For relatively remote sites, the importance of data logging equipment redundancy is becoming clear.


Geology | Geomorphology | Hydrology