Abstract View

Volume 25 Issue 6 (June 2015)

GSA Today

Bookmark and Share

Article, pp. 4-10 | Full Text | PDF (3.8MB)

The evolution of end-member continental waters: The origin of acidity in southern Western Australia

Search GoogleScholar for

Search GSA Today


Kathleen C. Benison1*, Brenda B. Bowen2

1 Dept. of Geology and Geography, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506-6300, USA
2 Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, Global Change and Sustainability Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA


The Yilgarn Craton of Western Australia hosts a regional acid saline groundwater system and hundreds of ephemeral saline lakes characterized by complex acid brines. These acid saline lakes and groundwaters have pH as low as 1.4 and salinities as high as 32% total dissolved solids. The low pH formed by a combination of processes dependent upon the host rock lithology and mineralogy, climate, weathering, organisms, and time. Although these modern acid saline environments are relatively rare, they have both ancient terrestrial and extraterrestrial counterparts. Understanding acidification processes provides enhanced understanding of hydrosphere-lithosphere-atmosphere-biosphere interactions. These environments present evidence of new brine evolution pathways and suggest the potential for future intense acid brine environments.

DOI: 10.1130/GSATG231A.1

Manuscript received 31 Aug. 2014; accepted 6 Jan. 2015.