Sediment-water interaction as a control on geochemical evolution of playa lake systems in the Australian arid interior

A. V. Arakel*, G. Jacobson, W. B. Lyons

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Saline playa lakes represent major geomorphic and hydrologic components of internal drainage basins in the arid to semiarid interior of Australia. These lakes mark the outcrop areas of regional shallow groundwater; thus, they are effective hydro-chemical sinks for elemental concentration and authigenic formation of carbonate, evaporite, and silica/silicate minerals. Field observations and petrochemical characterization of playa sediments from drainage basins in Western and Central Australia indicate that localized discharge of groundwater, from shallow aquifers in calcrete deposits, plays a fundamental role in geochemical evolution of playa-lake marginal facies. The available data indicates also that although evaporative concentration and salt recycling are major controls on geochemistry of the playas, yet a simple evaporative concentration model does not provide a complete explanation for brine evolution and particularly the geochemical process-product relationships observed in the individual playa lakes. The distribution of the chemical facies in the playas, in relation to geomorphic setting of the internal drainage basins, reflects a significant impact of variation in groundwater discharge pattern on the geochemical evolution of the playa lakes. Accordingly, the development of chemical facies in individual playas have progressed through repeated episodes of evaporative concentration, groundwater-level fluctuations and ion-exchange processes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - May 1990


    • arid-zone Australia
    • geochemical evolution
    • playa lakes


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