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Speleology in Kazakhstan

Shakalov on 04 Jul, 2018
Hello everyone!   I pleased to invite you to the official site of Central Asian Karstic-Speleological commission ("Kaspeko")   There, we regularly publish reports about our expeditions, articles and reports on speleotopics, lecture course for instructors, photos etc. ...

New publications on hypogene speleogenesis

Klimchouk on 26 Mar, 2012
Dear Colleagues, This is to draw your attention to several recent publications added to KarstBase, relevant to hypogenic karst/speleogenesis: Corrosion of limestone tablets in sulfidic ground-water: measurements and speleogenetic implications Galdenzi,

The deepest terrestrial animal

Klimchouk on 23 Feb, 2012
A recent publication of Spanish researchers describes the biology of Krubera Cave, including the deepest terrestrial animal ever found: Jordana, Rafael; Baquero, Enrique; Reboleira, Sofía and Sendra, Alberto. ...

Caves - landscapes without light

akop on 05 Feb, 2012
Exhibition dedicated to caves is taking place in the Vienna Natural History Museum   The exhibition at the Natural History Museum presents the surprising variety of caves and cave formations such as stalactites and various crystals. ...

Did you know?

That partition is 1. a nearly vertical residual rock mass in a cave. 2. a continuous rock span across a cave [10].?

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Featured articles from Cave & Karst Science Journals
Chemistry and Karst, White, William B.
See all featured articles
Featured articles from other Geoscience Journals
Karst environment, Culver D.C.
Mushroom Speleothems: Stromatolites That Formed in the Absence of Phototrophs, Bontognali, Tomaso R.R.; D’Angeli Ilenia M.; Tisato, Nicola; Vasconcelos, Crisogono; Bernasconi, Stefano M.; Gonzales, Esteban R. G.; De Waele, Jo
Calculating flux to predict future cave radon concentrations, Rowberry, Matt; Marti, Xavi; Frontera, Carlos; Van De Wiel, Marco; Briestensky, Milos
Microbial mediation of complex subterranean mineral structures, Tirato, Nicola; Torriano, Stefano F.F;, Monteux, Sylvain; Sauro, Francesco; De Waele, Jo; Lavagna, Maria Luisa; D’Angeli, Ilenia Maria; Chailloux, Daniel; Renda, Michel; Eglinton, Timothy I.; Bontognali, Tomaso Renzo Rezio
Evidence of a plate-wide tectonic pressure pulse provided by extensometric monitoring in the Balkan Mountains (Bulgaria), Briestensky, Milos; Rowberry, Matt; Stemberk, Josef; Stefanov, Petar; Vozar, Jozef; Sebela, Stanka; Petro, Lubomir; Bella, Pavel; Gaal, Ludovit; Ormukov, Cholponbek;
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Your search for and zone (Keyword) returned 11 results for the whole karstbase:
Spaceborne imaging radar-C (SIR-C) observations of groundwater discharge and wetlands associated with the Chicxulub impact crater, northwestern Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, 2001, Pope Kevin O. , Rejmankova Eliska, Paris Jack F. ,
Analyses of spaceborne imaging radar-C (SIR-C) data and field data from the northwestern Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, demonstrate that spaceborne multifrequency polarimetric radars are excellent tools for characterizing patterns of wetland flooding. Seasonal flooding can be detected in most types of forest and marsh in the radar backscatter magnitude and phase data of both L and C band. Field observations made in the wet and dry seasons concurrent with the space missions and chemical analyses of floodwaters confirm that flooding is the product of discharge from the Yucatan aquifer, which consists of a fresh-water lens floating on seawater. This discharge controls the distribution of wetlands. Therefore, vegetation and flooding patterns, mapped with SIR-C imagery, provide valuable information on the hydrogeology of the region. Radar-image maps of wetlands and flooding indicate that there are three major zones of groundwater discharge that correlate with structures of the buried Chicxulub crater--zone 1 with the peak ring, zone 2 with the crater rim, and zone 3 with the exterior ring. Zone 1 has sulfate-poor discharge, unlike the sulfate-rich discharge in zones 2 and 3. The highest discharge is in zone 3, where the buried crater is closest to the surface. This groundwater-discharge pattern can be explained by tidal pumping of fresh water to the surface through high permeability zones developed in the Tertiary carbonates overlying crater faults and escarpments

Central Aldan gold deposits, 2002, Vetluzhskikh V. G. , Kazansky V. I. , Kochetkov A. Y. , Yanovsky V. M. ,
The Central Aldan ore district stands out in many features against the other gold districts within the Aldan Shield. The gold, uranium, and other mineral deposits are located at a junction of regional structures, they originated within a relatively short time interval of about 100 Ma, the ore mineralization is closely spatially and genetically related to alkaline magmatism, the igneous rocks and related ore deposits are located within a concentric-radial structure, and the host rocks consist of basement and sedimentary cover contrasting in physicochemical properties. All these features allow us to consider the Central Aldan district as an endogenous ore-magmatic system. The Aldan complex of primarily ore-bearing alkaline basaltic crustal-mantle volcanic and plutonic rocks originated during four to five stages and numerous intrusive phases and extensive magma differentiation in mature continental crust including thin horizontally heterogeneous platform cover. Some facts considered in this paper allowed us, however, to comprise the whole series of Central Aldan gold deposits as an endogenous-exogenous ore-forming system characteristic of the tectonically activated regions of ancient platforms. The evolution of the Central Aldan district in the Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Cenozoic developed during the tectonic activation of Precembrian structures, oxidation of primary ores and weathering crust formation, and exposure of the Lebedinsk-, Kuranakh-, Ryabinovsk-, and Samolazovsk-type gold deposits to the erosion level. The formation of underground and surficial karst systems was initiated during the Jurassic weathering of carbonate rocks of the platform cover in subaerial environments. The endogenous stage of ore concentration was here directly followed by an exogenous stage with the formation of weathered rocks and gold placers in various morphostructural local environments, e.g., horsts, grabens, and graben valleys. Specific features of the placer structures and gold, quality in various placer types are related with hypogene ore bodies and elements of ore-controlling structures and zones of primary disseminated mineralization. The ore bodies of the Kuranakh and Samolazovskoe deposits actually belong to new types of endogenous-exogenous deposits. The gold dispersion and concentration related to karst formation are also significant in this ore district. Thus, Central Aldan is also an ore-placer district with specific features

Geological, structural and geochemical aspects of the main aquifer systems in Kuwait, 2004, Alsulaimi Js, Alruwaih Fm,
The paper summarizes the lithology, structure and the geometry of the main aquifer systems in Kuwait (the Dammam Formation and the Kuwait Group) along with the hydrochemical characteristics of the aquifers. Kuwait lies between the Arabian Shield and Zagros fold belt at the periphery of the Arabian platform. Structures associated with the Kuwait Arch noticeably control the subsurface configuration of the Dammam Formations and, hence regulate the distribution of the overlying Kuwait Group sediments. For the broad setting, the paleogeography of the Eocene has been constructed. The main lithologies of concern, both in the surface and subsurface, are the recent and subrecent sediments. The Kuwait Group includes the Dibdibba Formation, and the undifferentiated Ghar and Fars Formations, as well as the Hasa Group comprising the Dammam, Rus and Umm Er-Radhuma Formations. Subsurface geological cross-sections were constructed for the Dammam Formation, showing its structures, configuration, unconformity, and zones of uplift. Potential sites of karst formation in the Dammam limestone have been identified in the cross-sections. The structural study enables the reconstruction of the paleomorphostructural sections of the Dammam Formation. The chemical investigation indicates that the Kuwait Group aquifer is occupied by Na2SO4 and NaCl water types. In addition, the Kuwait Group aquifer is supersaturated with respect to calcite and is undersaturated with respect to halite, gypsum, anhydrite and dolomite. The Dammam Formation aquifer has Na2SO4, CaSO4 and NaCl water types. Moreover, the Dammam Formation is supersaturated with calcite and dolomite and is undersaturated with respect to halite, gypsum, and anhydrite. The calculated mean values of the PCO2 of the Kuwait Group and the Dammam Formation aquifers are 3.8 x 10(-3) atm. and 2.99 x 10(-3) atm. respectively, which are significantly above the PCO2 of the Earth's atmosphere. This may suggest a deep closed environment

Spatial and temporal variability of water salinity in an ephemeral, arid-zone river, central Australia, 2005, Costelloe Jf, Grayson Rb, Mcmahon Ta, Argent Rm,
This study describes the spatial and temporal variability of water salinity of the Neales-Peake, an ephemeral river system in the arid Lake Eyre basin of central Australia. Saline to hypersaline waterholes occur in the lower reaches of the Neales-Peake catchment and lie downstream of subcatchments containing artesian mound springs. Flood pulses are fresh in the upper reaches of the rivers (< 200 mg 1(-1)). In the salt-affected reaches, flood pulses become increasingly saline during their recession. It is hypothesized that leakage from the Great Artesian Basin deposits salt at the surface. This salt is then transported by infrequent runoff events into the main river system over long periods of time. The bank/floodplain store downstream of salt-affected catchments contains high salt concentrations, and this salt is mobilized during the flow recession when bank/floodplain storage discharges into the channel. The salinity of the recession increases as the percentage of flow derived from this storage increases. A simple conceptual model was developed for investigating the salt movement processes during flow events. The model structure for transport of water and salt in the Neales-Peake catchment generated similar spatial and temporal patterns of salt distribution in the floodplain/bank storage and water flow as observed during flow events in 2000-02. However, more field-data collection and modelling are required for improved calibration and description of salt transport and storage processes, particularly with regard to the number of stores required to represent the salt distribution in the upper zone of the soil profile. Copyright (c) 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Palaeohydrogeological control of palaeokarst macro-porosity genesis during a major sea-level lowstand: Danian of the UrbasaAndia plateau, Navarra, North Spain, 2007, Baceta Juan Ignacio, Wright V. Paul, Beavingtonpenney Simon J. , Pujalte Victoriano

An extensive palaeokarst porosity system, developed during a pronounced mid-Paleocene third-order lowstand of sea level, is hosted in Danian limestones of the Urbasa–Andia plateau in north Spain. These limestones were deposited on a 40–50 km wide rimmed shelf with a margin characterised by coralgal buildups and coarse-grained bioclastic accumulations. The sea-level fall that caused karstification was of approximately 80–90 m magnitude and 2.5 Ma in duration. During the exposure, a 450 m wide belt of sub-vertical margin-parallel fractures developed a few hundred metres inboard of the shelf edge. Most fractures are 90–100 m deep, average 1 m in width, and are associated with large erosional features created by collapse of the reefal margin. Inland from the fracture belt, three superimposed laterally extensive cave systems were formed over a distance of 3.5 km perpendicular to shelf edge, at depths ranging from 8–31 m below the exposure surface. The palaeocaves range from 0.3 to 2 m in height, average 1.5 m high. They show no evidence of meteoric processes and are filled with Thanetian grainstones rich in reworked Microcodium, a lithology that also occurs infilling the fractures. The caves are interpreted as due to active corrosion at the saline water–fresh-water mixing zone. Caves are missing from the shelf edge zone probably because the fractures beheaded the meteoroic lens preventing mixing-zone cave development beyond the fracture zone. Towards the platform interior, each cave system passes into a prominent horizon, averaging 1 m in thickness, of spongy porosity with crystal silt infills and red Fe-oxide coatings. The spongy horizons can be traced for 5.5 km inboard from the cave zone and occur at 10.5 m, 25 m and 32 m below the exposure surface. In the inland zone, two additional horizons with the same spongy dissolution have been recognised at depths of 50 m and 95 m. All are analogous to Swiss-cheese mixing-zone corrosion in modern carbonate aquifers and probably owe their origins to microbiallymediated dissolution effects associated with a zone of reduced circulation in marine phreatic water. In the most landward sections a number of collapse breccia zones are identified, but their origin is unclear. The palaeokarst system as a whole formed during the pulsed rise that followed the initial sea-level drop, with the three main cave-spongy zones representing three successive sea-level stillstands, recorded by stacked parasequences infilling large erosional scallops along the shelf margin. The geometry of the palaeo-mixing zones indicates a low discharge system, and together with the lack of meteoric karstic features favours a semi-arid to arid climatic regime, which is further supported by extensive calcrete-bearing palaeosols occurring in coeval continental deposits.


Palaeohydrogeological control of palaeokarst macro-porosity genesis during a major sea-level lowstand: Danian of the UrbasaAndia plateau, Navarra, North Spain, 2007, Baceta J. I. , Wright V. P. , Beavingtonpenney S. J. , Pujalte V.

An extensive palaeokarst porosity system, developed during a pronounced mid-Paleocene third-order lowstand of sea level, is hosted in Danian limestones of the Urbasa–Andia plateau in north Spain. These limestones were deposited on a 40–50 km wide rimmed shelf with a margin characterised by coralgal buildups and coarse-grained bioclastic accumulations. The sea-level fall that caused karstification was of approximately 80–90 m magnitude and 2.5 Ma in duration. During the exposure, a 450 m wide belt of sub-vertical margin-parallel fractures developed a few hundred metres inboard of the shelf edge. Most fractures are 90–100 m deep, average 1 m in width, and are associated with large erosional features created by collapse of the reefal margin. Inland from the fracture belt, three superimposed laterally extensive cave systems were formed over a distance of 3.5 km perpendicular to shelf edge, at depths ranging from 8–31 m below the exposure surface. The palaeocaves range from 0.3 to 2 m in height, average 1.5 m high. They show no evidence of meteoric processes and are filled with Thanetian grainstones rich in reworked Microcodium, a lithology that also occurs infilling the fractures. The caves are interpreted as due to active corrosion at the saline water–fresh-water mixing zone. Caves are missing from the shelf edge zone probably because the fractures beheaded the meteoroic lens preventing mixing-zone cave development beyond the fracture zone. Towards the platform interior, each cave system passes into a prominent horizon, averaging 1 m in thickness, of spongy porosity with crystal silt infills and red Fe-oxide coatings. The spongy horizons can be traced for 5.5 km inboard from the cave zone and occur at 10.5 m, 25 m and 32 m below the exposure surface. In the inland zone, two additional horizons with the same spongy dissolution have been recognised at depths of 50 m and 95 m. All are analogous to Swiss-cheese mixing-zone corrosion in modern carbonate aquifers and probably owe their origins to microbially mediated dissolution effects associated with a zone of reduced circulation in marine phreatic water. In the most landward sections a number of collapse breccia zones are identified, but their origin is unclear. The palaeokarst system as a whole formed during the pulsed rise that followed the initial sea-level drop, with the three main cave-spongy zones representing three successive sea-level stillstands, recorded by stacked parasequences infilling large erosional scallops along the shelf margin. The geometry of the palaeo mixing zones indicates a low discharge system, and together with the lack of meteoric karstic features favours a semi-arid to arid climatic regime, which is further supported by extensive calcrete-bearing palaeosols occurring in coeval continental deposits.


Hypogene karst of the eastern part of the Crimean fore-mountains, 2012, Klimchouk A. B. , Amelichev G. M. , Tymokhina . . , Tokarev S. V.

Carbonate rocks of upper Cretaceous, Paleocene and Eocene crop out in cuesta escarpments in different sectors of the eastern part of the Inner Range of the Crimean fore-mountains. Scarps and adjacent strips of the plateaus demonstrate a set of features, characteristic and unique for the Crimean fore-mountain region, represented by various conduit and cavernous forms (karstified fractures, grottoes, niches, caves, vugs and zones of vuggy porosity), sculptured surfaces and honeycomb, boxwork and spongework surfaces of scarps, and also by couloirs and blind valleys in the near-scarp strips of structural slopes. The paper demonstrates that all these forms are relics of the morphology of sub-vertical hypogenic rift-like conduits, their meso-elements and forms of the vuggy fringe, exposed due to the scarp retreat by block toppling. Previous ideas of the formation of grottoes and niches in scarps by processes of external weathering and gravitational destruction are shown to be inadequate, and the hypogenic karst origin of these forms is firmly established. The analysis of distribution and morphology of relict hypogenic karst features has allowed reconstructing the structure and functioning of hypogenic karst systems, which had been formed by dissolution and metasomatic alteration of host rocks under confined conditions, along cross-formational tectonic fractures organized in linear corridors and clusters. Interaction of rising fracture-vein waters of the deep circulation system with intra- and interstratal waters of shallower systems played a particular role in hypogenic speleogenesis. It is shown that hypogenic karst was one of the primary factors of regional geomorphic development as it determined locations and morphology of the cuesta escarpments, as well as further landform development in the adjacent areas of the structural surfaces.


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,

Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2 soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic.

The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systemati­cally. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2 and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmo­spheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (mar­ginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the me­teoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns

can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convectionand condensation-corrosion.

Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,

Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2 soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic.

The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systemati­cally. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2 and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmo­spheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (mar­ginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the me­teoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns

can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convectionand condensation-corrosion.

Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,

Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2 soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic.

The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systemati­cally. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2 and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmo­spheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (mar­ginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the me­teoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns

can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convectionand condensation-corrosion.

Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,

Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2 soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic.

The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systemati­cally. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2 and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmo­spheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (mar­ginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the me­teoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns

can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convectionand condensation-corrosion.

Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.


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