Fluvial tufa deposits in southwest Japan commonly develop biannual lamination consisting of dense summer layers and porous winter layers, and the clearness of the laminae varies among the sites. The laminae have been largely attributed to a seasonally variable inorganic precipitation rate of calcite. This rate-controlled hypothesis was examined by using quantitative data for calcite packing-density (CPD) and the precipitation rate of calcite (PWP rate) calculated from water chemistry. The results for four tufa-depositing sites in SW Japan show that a positive correlation between CPD and PWP rate becomes less certain with increasing PWP rate. In the temperature realm of SW Japan, tufas develop regular distinct seasonal change in CPD when deposited in water containing Ca values less than 65 mg/l, which results in a relatively low precipitation rate. The CPD of tufa deposits rarely exceeds 65%, owing to pore space between fine-grained calcite crystals and to porosity derived from decomposed cyanobacteria and other microorganisms. By increasing the Ca content to more than 65 mg/l, the CPD often attains an upper limit and becomes insensitive to seasonal changes in the PWP rate. Therefore, seasonal variations in CPD at sites with a higher Ca content are unclear, as seen in two examples from tropical islands in southern Japan and in one locality in a temperate climate. The flow rate and microbial density on the tufa surface are subordinate factors with respect to the CPD. Seasonal changes in these two factors often enhance the porous/dense contrast of biannual lamination in SW Japan.
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