2. Limestone of the Sierra Aitana

The Sierra Aitana and the Simas de Partagat are the subject of our local case study of limestone.  We have regularly studied limestone on the geography field trips. For a detailed understanding of this limestone landscape, including an explanation of the Simas de Partagat, a PDF leaflet is available (in Spanish) with interpretations of the geology and other points of interest (e.g. vegetation): geolodia_aitana_alicante

One student David Albero (a Chemistry and Geography student) performed an experiment for us at the Aitana ridge, reacting hydrochloric acid with limestone, shown in these pictures, in which you can clearly see the rock effervescing as the acid reacts with the calcium in the rock. This process is a speeded up illustration of the way carbonic acid in rain reacts with limestone in the process known as carbonation-solution.

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Hydrochloric acid experiment to test for limestone

  • Hydrochloric acid was used because the weaker carbonic acid that is present in precipitation would not give any immediately noticeable reaction, although it would react on limestone over a longer period.
  • As the hydrochloric acid was reacted with the rock using a pipette, it effervesced and particles of sediment were visibly detaching from the rock in a simulation of weathering.
  • This would only happen with limestone, and as we tested rock samples which looked different, it was shown that all were limestone regardless of colour.

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