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Featured article from geoscience journal

Carbonates and Evaporites, 2010, Vol 25, Issue 3, p. 203-216
Reconnaissance study of active sulfide springs and cave systems in the southern part of the Sulaimani Governorate (NE Iraq)
Abstract:

A fairly important number of springs with H2S degassing were identified in all three structural compartments of northeastern Iraq, namely the thrust, high and Low Folded Zones. The speleogenesis process is active for some of these systems and the sulfuric acid dissolution is partly documented for the initiation and actual progress of the process. Apart from carbonic acid dissolution of carbonate rocks, the speleogenesis process can also be activated and sustained by sulfuric acid dissolution. Caves genetically based on the oxidation of H2S have been described in a continuously increasing number of sites distributed worldwide. Presence of sulfide springs in the northeastern part of Iraq is normal rather than exceptional. It is assumed that H2S from deeper oil/gas structures, or only resulting from hydrocarbons existent in caprocks or in
carbonate layers, is entrapped within the anticline plunge. Groundwater monitoring and intensive mapping activities exploiting UN-FAO program research data (2001–2003) support the preliminary hypothesis concerning the understanding and analysis of the most relevant sulfide spring. Specific to these karst systems is the combination of chemical/dissolution processes leading to mixed karst morphology features heaving as starting point occurrences of gypsum layers and possible hydrocarbon solutions inflows.