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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 cave lake is any underground lake. the water can be in a partially drained phreatic cave, and may then be the entrance to a sump, or it can be open over its entire surface. in vadose caves lakes are most commonly formed by ponding behind banks of sediment or, in rarer cases, behind very large gour barriers [9].?

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Calculating flux to predict future cave radon concentrations, Rowberry, Matt; Marti, Xavi; Frontera, Carlos; Van De Wiel, Marco; Briestensky, Milos
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Your search for karst conduit networks (Keyword) returned 5 results for the whole karstbase:
Structure et comportement hydraulique des aquifers karstiques, DSc thesis, 1996, Jeannin, P. Y.

This thesis aims to provide a better knowledge of karst flow systems, from a functional point of view (behaviour with time), as well as from a structural one (behaviour in space). The first part of the thesis deals with the hydrodynamic behaviour of karst systems, and the second part with the geometry of karstic networks, which is a strong conditioning factor for the hydrodynamic behaviour.
Many models have been developed in the past for describing the hydrodynamic behaviour of karst hydrogeological systems. They usually aim to provide a tool to extrapolate, in time and/or space, some characteristics of the flow fields, which can only be measured at a few points. Such models often provide a new understanding of the systems, beyond what can be observed directly in the field. Only special field measurements can verify such hypotheses based on numerical models. This is an significant part of this work. For this purpose, two experimental sites have been equipped and measured: Bure site or Milandrine, Ajoie, Switzerland, and Holloch site, Muotathal, Schwyz, Switzerland. These sites gave us this opportunity of simultaneously observe hydrodynamic parameters within the conduit network and, in drillholes, the "low permeability volumes" (LPV) surrounding the conduits.
These observations clearly show the existence of a flow circulation across the low permeability volumes. This flow may represent about 50% of the infiltrated water in the Bure test-field. The epikarst appears to play an important role into the allotment of the infiltrated waters: Part of the infiltrated water is stored at the bottom of the epikarst and slowly flows through the low permeability volumes (LPV) contributing to base flow. When infiltration is significant enough the other part of the water exceeds the storage capacity and flows quickly into the conduit network (quick flow).
For the phreatic zone, observations and models show that the following scheme is adequate to describe the flow behaviour: a network of high permeability conduits, of tow volume, leading to the spring, is surrounded by a large volume of low permeability fissured rock (LPV), which is hydraulically connected to the conduits. Due to the strong difference in hydraulic conductivity between conduits and LPV, hydraulic heads and their variations in time and space are strongly heterogeneous. This makes the use of piezometric maps in karst very questionable.
Flow in LPV can be considered as similar to flow in fractured rocks (laminar flow within joints and joints intersections). At a catchment scale, they can be effectively considered as an equivalent porous media with a hydraulic conductivity of about 10-6 to 10-7 m/s.
Flow in conduits is turbulent and loss of head has to be calculated with appropriate formulas, if wanting any quantitative results. Our observations permitted us to determine the turbulent hydraulic conductivity of some simple karst conduits (k', turbulent flow), which ranges from 0.2 to 11 m/s. Examples also show that the structure of the conduit network plays a significant role on the spatial distribution of hydraulic heads. Particularity hydraulic transmissivity of the aquifer varies with respect to hydrological conditions, because of the presence of overflow conduits located within the epiphreatic zone. This makes the relation between head and discharge not quadratic as would be expected from a (too) simple model (with only one single conduit). The model applied to the downstream part of Holloch is a good illustration of this phenomena.
The flow velocity strongly varies along the length of karst conduits, as shown by tracer experiments. Also, changes in the conduit cross-section produce changes in the (tow velocity profile. Such heterogeneous flow-field plays a significant role in the shape of the breakthrough curves of tracer experiments. It is empirically demonstrated that conduit enlargements induce retardation of the breakthrough curve. If there are several enlargements one after the other, an increase of the apparent dispersivity will result, although no diffusion with the rock matrix or immobile water is present. This produces a scale effect (increase of the apparent dispersivity with observation scale). Such observations can easily be simulated by deterministic and/or black box models.
The structure of karst conduit networks, especially within the phreatic zone, plays an important role not only on the spatial distribution of the hydraulic heads in the conduits themselves, but in the LPV as well. Study of the network geometry is therefore useful for assessing the shape of the flow systems. We further suggest that any hydrogeological study aiming to assess the major characteristics of a flow system should start with a preliminary estimation of the conduit network geometry. Theories and examples presented show that the geometry of karst conduits mainly depends on boundary conditions and the permeability field at the initial stage of the karst genesis. The most significant boundary conditions are: the geometry of the impervious boundaries, infiltration and exfiltration conditions (spring). The initial permeability field is mainly determined by discontinuities (fractures and bedding planes). Today's knowledge allows us to approximate the geometry of a karst network by studying these parameters (impervious boundaries, infiltration, exfiltration, discontinuity field). Analogs and recently developed numerical models help to qualitatively evaluate the sensitivity of the geometry to these parameters. Within the near future, new numerical tools will be developed and will help more closely to address this difficult problem. This development will only be possible if speleological networks can be sufficiently explored and used to calibrate models. Images provided by speleologists to date are and will for a long time be the only data which can adequately portray the conduit networks in karst systems. This is helpful to hydrogeologists. The reason that we present the example of the Lake Thun karst system is that it illustrates the geometry of such conduits networks. Unfortunately, these networks are three-dimensional and their visualisation on paper (2 dimensions) is very restrictive, when compared to more effective 3-D views we can create with computers. As an alternative to deterministic models of speleogenesis, fractal and/or random walk models could be employed.


Structure et comportement hydraulique des aquifers karstiques, DSc. Thesis, faculte des Sciences de l'Universite de Neuchatel., 1998, Jeannin Py.
This thesis aims to provide a better knowledge of karst flow systems, from a functional point of view (behaviour with time), as well as from a structural one (behaviour in space). The first part of the thesis deals with the hydrodynamic behaviour of karst systems, and the second part with the geometry of karstic networks, which is a strong conditioning factor for the hydrodynamic behaviour. Many models have been developed in the past for describing the hydrodynamic behaviour of karst hydrogeological systems. They usually aim to provide a tool to extrapolate, in time and/or space, some characteristics of the flow fields, which can only be measured at a few points. Such models often provide a new understanding of the systems, beyond what can be observed directly in the field. Only special field measurements can verify such hypotheses based on numerical models. This is an significant part of this work. For this purpose, two experimental sites have been equipped and measured: Bure site or Milandrine, Ajoie, Switzerland, and Holloch site, Muotathal, Schwyz, Switzerland. These sites gave us this opportunity of simultaneously observe hydrodynamic parameters within the conduit network and, in drillholes, the "low permeability volumes" (LPV) surrounding the conduits. These observations clearly show the existence of a flow circulation across the low permeability volumes. This flow may represent about 50% of the infiltrated water in the Bure test-field. The epikarst appears to play an important role into the allotment of the infiltrated waters: Part of the infiltrated water is stored at the bottom of the epikarst and slowly flows through the low permeability volumes (LPV) contributing to base flow. When infiltration is significant enough the other part of the water exceeds the storage capacity and flows quickly into the conduit network (quick flow). For the phreatic zone, observations and models show that the following scheme is adequate to describe the flow behaviour: a network of high permeability conduits, of tow volume, leading to the spring, is surrounded by a large volume of low permeability fissured rock (LPV), which is hydraulically connected to the conduits. Due to the strong difference in hydraulic conductivity between conduits and LPV, hydraulic heads and their variations in time and space are strongly heterogeneous. This makes the use of piezometric maps in karst very questionable. Flow in LPV can be considered as similar to flow in fractured rocks (laminar flow within joints and joints intersections). At a catchment scale, they can be effectively considered as an equivalent porous media with a hydraulic conductivity of about 10-6 to 10-7 m/s. Flow in conduits is turbulent and loss of head has to be calculated with appropriate formulas, if wanting any quantitative results. Our observations permitted us to determine the turbulent hydraulic conductivity of some simple karst conduits (k',turbulent flow), which ranges from 0.2 to 11 m/s. Examples also show that the structure of the conduit network plays a significant role on the spatial distribution of hydraulic heads. Particularity hydraulic transmissivity of the aquifer varies with respect to hydrological conditions, because of the presence of overflow conduits located within the epiphreatic zone. This makes the relation between head and discharge not quadratic as would be expected from a (too) simple model (with only one single conduit). The model applied to the downstream part of Holloch is a good illustration of this phenomena. The flow velocity strongly varies along the length of karst conduits, as shown by tracer experiments. Also, changes in the conduit cross-section produce changes in the (tow velocity profile. Such heterogeneous flow-field plays a significant role in the shape of the breakthrough curves of tracer experiments. It is empirically demonstrated that conduit enlargements induce retardation of the breakthrough curve. If there are several enlargements one after the other, an increase of the apparent dispersivity will result, although no diffusion with the rock matrix or immobile water is present. This produces a scale effect (increase of the apparent dispersivity with observation scale). Such observations can easily be simulated by deterministic and/or black box models. The structure of karst conduit networks, especially within the phreatic zone, plays an important role not only on the spatial distribution of the hydraulic heads in the conduits themselves, but in the LPV as well. Study of the network geometry is therefore useful for assessing the shape of the flow systems. We further suggest that any hydrogeological study aiming to assess the major characteristics of a flow system should start with a preliminary estimation of the conduit network geometry. Theories and examples presented show that the geometry of karst conduits mainly depends on boundary conditions and the permeability field at the initial stage of the karst genesis. The most significant boundary conditions are: the geometry of the impervious boundaries, infiltration and exfiltration conditions (spring). The initial permeability field is mainly determined by discontinuities (fractures and bedding planes). Today's knowledge allows us to approximate the geometry of a karst network by studying these parameters (impervious boundaries, infiltration, exfiltration, discontinuity field). Analogs and recently developed numerical models help to qualitatively evaluate the sensitivity of the geometry to these parameters. Within the near future, new numerical tools will be developed and will help more closely to address this difficult problem. This development will only be possible if speleological networks can be sufficiently explored and used to calibrate models. Images provided by speleologists to date are and will for a long time be the only data which can adequately portray the conduit networks in karst systems. This is helpful to hydrogeologists. The reason that we present the example of the Lake Thun karst system is that it illustrates the geometry of such conduits networks. Unfortunately, these networks are three-dimensional and their visualisation on paper (2 dimensions) is very restrictive, when compared to more effective 3-D views we can create with computers. As an alternative to deterministic models of speleogenesis, fractal and/or random walk models could be employed.

Karstic behaviour of groundwater in the English Chalk, 2006, Maurice L. D. , Atkinson T. C. , Barker J. A. , Bloomfield J. P. , Farrant A. R. , Williams A. T. ,
SummaryAlthough the Chalk is only weakly karstified, tracer testing from stream sinks has demonstrated groundwater flow velocities comparable to those observed in highly karstic aquifers. Field survey of surface karst features in the catchments of the Pang and Lambourn rivers in southern England demonstrates the importance of overlying and adjacent Palaeogene strata in the development of karst features. Tracer techniques employed within the catchments enable further characterisation of the range and connectivity of solutional voids in this area of the Chalk, and allow assessment of the relative importance of different mechanisms of contaminant attenuation. Quantitative tracer test results suggest that groundwater flow may be through a complex combination of small conduits, typically 10-1000 mm in diameter, and more laterally extensive fissures with apertures of 1-50 mm. Evidence of connectivity between conduits and fissures suggest that in areas of the Chalk with rapid groundwater flow, fissures supplying abstraction boreholes may be connected to karst conduit networks with low potential for contaminant attenuation

Evidence of inception horizons in karst conduit networks, 2009, Filipponi M, Jeannin Py. , Tacher L.

This paper outlines the conclusion from an analysis of 18 large cave systems around the world, comprising more than 1500 km of conduits. The 3D geometry of complex cave systems have been analysed in relation to their geological context as well as their hydrogeological boundary conditions. The methodology allowed for the first time statistical evidence of the inception horizon concept. Thereby it confirms that the development of karst conduits under phreatic conditions is strongly related to a restricted number of so called inception horizons. An inception horizon is a part of a rock succession that is particularly susceptible to the development of karst conduits because of physical, lithological or chemical deviation from the predominant carbonate facies within the limestone sequence. It passively or actively favours the localisation of dissolutional voids. The methodology based on detailed geological 3D models and cave survey allowed us to demonstrate the existence of inception horizons in karst conduit genesis. This fact improves significantly the prediction of karst conduits, knowledge that is of relevance for geological engineering problems (e.g. tunnelling, oil industry, hydrogeology) as well as for the scientific understanding of the evolution of karst systems.


‘Looping caves’ versus ‘water table caves’: The role of base-level changes and recharge variations in cave development, 2014, Gabrovšek Franci, Häuselmann Philipp, Audra Philippe

The vertical organisation of karst conduit networks has been the focus of speleogenetic studies for more than a century. The four state model of Ford and Ewers (1978), which still is considered as the most general, relates the geometry of caves to the frequency of permeable fissures. The model suggests that the ‘water table caves’ are common in areas with high fissure frequency, which is often the case in natural settings. However, in Alpine karst systems, water table caves aremore the exception than the rule. Alpine speleogenesis is influenced by high uplift, valley incision rates and irregular recharge. To study the potential role of these processes for speleogenesis in the dimensions of length and depth, we apply a simple mathematical model based on coupling of flow, dissolution and transport.We assume a master conduit draining thewater to the spring at a base level. Incision of the valley triggers evolution of deeper flow pathways,which are initially in a proto-conduit state. Themaster conduit evolves into a canyon following the valley incision,while the deep pathways evolve towards maturity and tend to capture the water fromthe master conduits. Two outcomes are possible: a) deep pathways evolve fast enough to capture all the recharge, leaving the master conduit dry; or b) the canyon reaches the level of deep pathways before these evolve to maturity. We introduce the Loop-to-Canyon Ratio (LCR), which predicts which of the two outcomes is more likely to occur in certain settings. Our model is extended to account for transient flow conditions. In the case of an undulating master conduit, floodwater is stored in troughs after the flood retreat. This water seeps through sub-vertical fractures (‘soutirages’) connecting the master conduitwith the deep pathways. Therefore, the loops evolve also during the dry season, and the LCR is considerably increased. Although themodel is based on several approximations, it leads to some important conclusions for vertical organisation of karst conduit networks and stresses the importance of base-level changes and transient recharge conditions. It therefore gives an explanation of speleogenesis that relies much more on the dynamic nature of water flow than on the static fracture density


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