In this study, we explore the differences between the hydrogeochemical processes observed in a setting that is open to input from the land surface and in a setting that is closed with respect to input from the land surface. The closed setting was a water-filled passage in a cave. Samples of groundwater and of a solid that appeared to be suspended in the relatively fresh region of saline-freshwater mixing zone were collected. The solid was determined to be aragonite. Based on the analyses of the composition and saturation state of the groundwater, the mixing of fresh and saline water and precipitation of aragonite are the controlling geochemical processes in this mixing zone. We found no evidence of sulfate reduction. Thus, this mixing zone is similar to that observed in Caleta Xel Ha, Quintana Roo, also a system that is closed with respect to input from the land surface. The open setting was an unconfined aquifer underlying the coastal plain along which four hand-dug wells are located. Two wells are at the downgradient ends of inferred flowpaths and one is along a flowpath. The composition of the groundwater in the downgradient wells is sulfide-rich and brackish. In contrast, at the well located along a flow line, the groundwater is oxygenated and brackish. All groundwater is oversaturated with respect to calcite, aragonite, and dolomite. The composition is attributed to mixing of fresh and saline groundwater, CO2 outgassing, and sulfate reduction. This mixing zone is geochemically similar to that observed in blue holes and cenotes.
Additional publication details
Groundwater geochemistry of Isla de Mona, Puerto Rico