Kohout convection is the name given to the circulation of saline groundwater deep within carbonate platforms, first proposed by F.A. Kohout in the 1960s for south Florida. It is now seen as an Mg pump for dolomitization by seawater. As proposed by Kohout, cold seawater is drawn into the Florida platform from the deep Straits of Florida as part of a geothermally driven circulation in which the seawater then rises in the interior of the platform to mix and exit with the discharging meteoric water of the Floridan aquifer system. Simulation of the asymmetrically emergent Florida platform with the new three-dimensional (3-D), finite-element groundwater flow and transport model SUTRA-MS, which couples salinity- and temperature-dependent density variations, allows analysis of how much of the cyclic flow is due to geothermal heating (free convection) as opposed to mixing with meteoric water discharging to the shoreline (forced convection). Simulation of the system with and without geothermal heating reveals that the inflow of seawater from the Straits of Florida would be similar without the heat flow, but the distribution would differ significantly. The addition of heat flow reduces the asymmetry of the circulation: it decreases seawater inflows on the Atlantic side by 8% and on the Gulf of Mexico side by half. The study illustrates the complex interplay of freshwater-saltwater mixing, geothermal heat flow, and projected dolomitization in complicated 3-D settings with asymmetric boundary conditions and realistic horizontal and vertical variations in hydraulic properties.

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