Ask GeoMan...

What can you add to water and expose to limestone to make it dissolve?

All you have to do is add carbon dioxide! And, thanks to the 4th Law of GeoFantasy, this happens all over the place. Like rain falling through the atmosphere (ALL rain is actually 'acid rain'). Or water percolating through the fallen leaves of autumn. Or playing the bubble game with a glass of water and a straw. Any time water and carbon dioxide mix, carbonic acid is the result. The chemistry is real simple:

Water plus Carbon Dioxide combine to produce Carbonic Acid

H2O + CO2 ---> H2CO3

Not a very strong acid, but over the course of geologic time it is sufficiently powerful to dissolve enough limestone to produce the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and even the humble Oregon Caves here in southern Oregon.

Thanks for the question, and I hope this helps.


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