Carbonate v Carbonic

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Carbonate v Carbonic

Postby cavedoc » Jan 20, 2015 5:00 pm

I'm editing an article on caves. I've always heard of "carbonate" rocks in which caves form but this article says "carbonic" rock. My prejudice is to use carbonate instead. Are there reasons to prefer carbonic?
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Re: Carbonate v Carbonic

Postby rlboyce » Jan 20, 2015 5:56 pm

I'm not a chemist, but I'd say that "carbonic" is technically correct, as tetravalent carbon is one of the constituents of calcium carbonate. However, I would still recommend the use of "carbonate" as this is the more familiar term, and it is also *more* technically correct. If it has a chance to confuse the reader, even if technically correct, you probably want to default to a less confusing alternative. In this case, "carbonate" seems to be a win-win choice. Just my two cents. Perhaps someone who is a chemist could comment. : )
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Re: Carbonate v Carbonic

Postby caver.adam » Jan 20, 2015 11:12 pm

Carbonate is a salt of carbonic acid. Carbonic acid is H2CO3. Carbonate is a salt with CO3 in it (I.E. CaCO3 calcium carbonate).

Unless I'm mistaken (and please speak up if I am), Carbonic acid dissolves the rock and that new solution is a carbonate.
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Re: Carbonate v Carbonic

Postby John Lovaas » Jan 21, 2015 9:54 am

Looking at online uses of "carbonic rocks", authors are using both terms- referring to dolomite and limestone as (carbonate rocks), but then also referring to carbonic rocks.

I have a 75 year old technical dictionary(Chamber's Technical Dictionary) that has "Carbonic" as a term:

"Synonymous with Pennsylvanian. Compare Carboniferous System in Europe, which includes the representatives of both the Mississippian and the overlying Pennsylvanian."
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Re: Carbonate v Carbonic

Postby boogercaver71 » Jan 21, 2015 2:13 pm

One of my old Geology professors instructed me to use the use carbonate for rocks and carbonic for acid
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Re: Carbonate v Carbonic

Postby Phil Winkler » Jan 21, 2015 8:25 pm

I agree. Rocks are carbonates. Drop acid on them and they effervesce demonstrating they are carbonates.

Using the word carbonates is the usual term. I've never seen carbonic in the literature about caves and karst.
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Re: Carbonate v Carbonic

Postby cavedoc » Jan 22, 2015 3:45 am

Carbonate it is then. Thanks!
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Re: Carbonate v Carbonic

Postby John Lovaas » Jan 25, 2015 10:57 am

Did you ask the author why the term 'carbonic' was used?
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