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Abstract:

The linear chain of playa lakes in the Karinga Creek drainage system, central Australia, hosts seasonal efflorescent crusts characterized by laterally intergrading halite and mirabilite facies. The sedimentary features of these evaporite facies and chemical compositions of the playa brines collectively reflect aperiodic thermodynamic equilibrium, with respect to sulfate and chloride minerals, due to repeated evaporation and cooling induced by desert climatic conditions. The coexistence of halite and mirabilite facies in the efflorescent crusts is largely a consequence of the groundwater discharge pattern and the hydrochemical setting of brine pools at a given point, rather than a true representation of concurrent episodes of chemical sedimentation.

These findings agree with results from isothermal evaporation experiments and reflect a pattern of playa sedimentation that differs significantly from that of simple evaporation. An assessment of the thermodynamic requirements for variations in the patterns of chemical sedimentation of ancient shallowing-upward lacustrine sequences may provide valuable paleoenvironmental information.

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