Community news

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 roughness coefficient is a coefficient that describes roughness of a channel bed [16].?

Checkout all 2699 terms in the KarstBase Glossary of Karst and Cave Terms

What is Karstbase?



Browse Speleogenesis Issues:

KarstBase a bibliography database in karst and cave science.

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;
See all featured articles from other geoscience journals

Search in KarstBase

Your search for mine caves (Keyword) returned 19 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 1 to 15 of 19
Peculiar minerogenetic cave environments of Mexico: the Cuatro Cinegas area., 2006, Forti P. , Galli E. , Rossi A.

The karst area of Quatro Cinegas (Coahuila, Mexico) represents an ideal site to study cave mineralogy, because it hosts caves of different age and genesis (karst, thermal, mine caves). Among the speleothems studied is worth to mention a nest of aragonite cave pearls found deep inside the Reforma mine characterized by the total absence of growing layers inside them. Despite only few studied caves (8), some 32 different cave minerals have been detected, one of which is new for the cavern environment (kingsmountite) and another one, still under study, which probably will result new for science. Due to the scientific interest of their chemical deposits it should be very important to protect in the future the natural cavities of the karst systems of Cuatro Cinegas in order to preserve a scientific patrimony, actually only partially known.

A new hypogean karst form: the oxidation vent, 2006, De Waele Jo, Forti Paolo

Sails: a new gypsum speleothem from Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico., 2007, Forti Paolo, Bernabei Tullio, Villasuso Roberto
The caves of Naica (Chihuahua, Mexico) are perhaps the most famous mine caves of the world due to the presence of gigantic gypsum crystals. Nevertheless, very little research has been carried out on this karst area until now. A multidisciplinary investigation started in 2006 with the aim not only to define the genesis and the age of the Naica gypsum crystals, but also on other scientific aspects of these caves. This paper describes a completely new type of gypsum speleothem: the sails, observed only inside the Cueva de las Velas, one of the caves of the Naica system. This speleothem consists of extremely thin, elongated skeleton crystals that have grown epitaxially only on the tips of the gypsum crystals pointing upward. The genesis of sails is strictly related to the environmental conditions set up inside the cave just after the artificial lowering of the groundwater by mine dewatering (less than 20 yr ago). In a few years sail speleothems will disappear entirely and therefore this study is fundamental to preserve at least the memory of them.

Sails: a new gypsum speleothem from Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico, 2007, Forti Paolo, Bernabei Tullio And Villasuso Roberto
The caves of Naica (Chihuahua, Mexico) are perhaps the most famous mine caves of the world due to the presence of gigantic gypsum crystals. Nevertheless, very little research has been carried out on this karst area until now. A multidisciplinary investigation started in 2006 with the aim not only to define the genesis and the age of the Naica gypsum crystals, but also on other scientific aspects of these caves. This paper describes a completely new type of gypsum speleothem: the sails, observed only inside the Cueva de las Velas, one of the caves of the Naica system. This speleothem consists of extremely thin, elongated skeleton crystals that have grown epitaxially only on the tips of the gypsum crystals pointing upward. The genesis of sails is strictly related to the environmental conditions set up inside the cave just after the artificial lowering of the groundwater by mine dewatering (less than 20 yr ago). In a few years sail speleothems will disappear entirely and therefore this study is fundamental to preserve at least the memory of them.


The Cueva de las Velas is the last cave unveiled at -290 level within the Naica Mine; the cavity has been intercepted by a mine gallery at the beginning of 2005. One of its peculiarities is the widespread thick deposits of diagenetic minerals deposited over the cave walls before the beginning of the evolution of the giant gypsum crystals. These deposits consist of complex, often scarcely crystalline iron-manganese-lead oxides-hydroxides, but carbonates, sulphates and silicates are also present. Other minerals, mainly sulphates, started developing just after this area of the mine was dewatered some 20 years ago. Presently 17 different minerals have been observed, 5 of which (orientite, starkeyite, szmolnokite, szmikite and woodruffite) are completely new for the cavern environment. The study of these minerals, together with the presence of a completely new type of gypsum crystals, allowed to improve the knowledge on the speleogenetic evolution of this cave, which seems to be by far more complex than that of the other cavity of the -290 level. Its complexity is reflected by the activity of a larger number of different speleogenetic mechanisms. Among them are worth of mention the thermal corrosion/dissolution, the anhydrite- gypsum disequilibrium, the acid aggression, and the capillary migration and evaporation.

Preliminary U/Th dating and the evolution of gypsum crystals in Naica caves (Mexico), 2011, Sanna Laura, Forti Paolo, Lauritzen Steinerik

The origin and the evolution of giant selenite crystals in Naica caves, together with the understanding of their growth mechanisms, is one of the aims of the international multidisciplinary research, called the “Naica Project”. In this context, the exact timing of when the gypsum nucleation started and whether its growth has been constant over time, have been investigated. The preliminary data obtained with the U–Th disequilibrium method show significant differences in ages for gypsum (between 191 ± 13 kyr for one of the Ojo de la Reina cave crystals and 57 ± 1.7 kyr for the base of Espadas cave’s spar) and have produced a coarse chronological interval of growth. The crystal depositional rates vary from 0.56 to 1.22 mm/kyr, in excellent agreement with the laboratory tests for gypsum deposition under present conditions performed in the deepest part of the mine. These results are also consistent with a multistage precipitation started at different times in the Naica caves (first in caves at the upper level, where gypsum was subsequently dissolved, and only later in the deeper part of the aquifer under stable conditions) and allow us to improve the knowledge on the speleogenetic evolution of these caves.

Laser Scanning Technology for the Hypogean Survey: the case of Santa Barbara Karst System (Sardinia, Italy), 2011, Canevese Erminio Paolo, Forti Paolo , Naseddu Angelo, Ottelli Luciano, Tedeschi Roberta

The morphological knowledge of the territory, both in its surface and subterranean aspects, is the main premise to all decision-making procedures as well as all planning and management activities. Knowledge takes shape into reliable precise and complete thematic cartography and databases, which are necessary for anybody dealing with underground contexts: speleologists, scientists, public administrations, managing authorities etc.
Surveys in caves are normally carried out with traditional techniques and instruments, which are essential for a first representation but not enough for a pragmatic effective topographic approach. Laser scanning technique can be an alternative to the traditional systems. Laser scanning quickly acquires the shape of cavities as “point clouds” (x, y, z coordinates and colour values) and produces a high precision database of the surveyed object. Laser scanning technology is therefore a feasible way to document caves in a precise exhaustive way, limiting risks relating to lack and/or inadequacy of data.
The present paper explains the laser scanning survey carried out in San Giovanni mine near Iglesias (Sardinia, Italy), particularly in Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara 2 caves, the data post-processing and three-dimensional modelling of “point clouds” (operations performed with a dedicated software), and
the use of the obtained digital model. Moreover, the paper describes
the advantages of laser scanning for the hypogean survey
in comparison to traditional methods and the future potentialities
of a broad application of laser scanning instruments
in caves.

Phreatic maze caves, Grinton Moor, Swaledale, UK: survey of the Devis Hole Mine Caves, 2012, Harrison, Tony

Remarkable phreatic maze caves, first entered by Victorian miners searching for lead ore, have been rediscovered in a series of digs over the last 40 years by members of the Moldywarps Speleological Group (MSG) in Devis Hole Mine, Swaledale, in the Yorkshire Dales. Most of the discoveries have been reported in three published reports. Previous surveys of individual sections of the natural caves have now been brought together for the first time in a single survey of the entire mine explored to date.

Mine Caves, Proceedings Second International Symposium on Mine Caves, Iglesias 27-29/04/2012, 2013,


The historical copper shale mine excavations on the south-eastern flank of Harz Mountains have cut into numerous large caves in gypsum and anhydrite. These caves are known as “Schlotten” (pl., sg. Schlotte). The word is derived from the Early New High German meaning internal hollow formations allowing the drainage of water and already finds mention in XVIth century literature. However, these quite spectacular gypsum caves have never aroused the interest of the wider public. Discovered through mining, they have always been only accessible via pit shafts and galleries and invariably considered to be part of the mine. But in a scientific sense they are deep phreatic and hypogene caves in a parent rock of anhydrite or gypsum, in their natural state filled with water and without an entrance. They are unique geological outcrops in Zechstein (upper Permian), large karst caves of rare character and particular beauty as well as cultural witnesses to historical mining. The miners used the “Schlotten” for a long period of time to drain water from the mines (until the XVIIIth century) and for economical reasons also to store unwanted spoil (until the XIXth century). As the mine workings reached deeper levels, sub- sidence and flooding became more common and the intensity of the karst dissolution process increased. Problems of catastrophic proportions due to mine flooding were encountered in 1892 near Eisleben and in 1988 near Sangerhausen. The hydrological problems that confronted the copper shale mine excavations in the south-eastern Harz region are of geogenic origin. The exploitable seams, which on average slope between 3º and 8º, are covered with a between 4 and 7 metre thick layer of limestone (Zechstein) with the characteristics of a karst aquifer. Above this a 60 m thick layer of anhydrite or gypsum is found, in which the “Schlotten” are formed, notably on geological faults. The relevance of the “Schlotten” as a natural phenomenon was first appreciated in depth by Johann Carl Freiesleben (1774-1846). He described them scientifically in 1809 and campaigned emphatically for their preservation. With regard to this, the “Wimmelburger Schlotten” near Eisleben were surveyed and geologically mapped by Anton Erdmann (1782-1848). The plan and side elevation of the cave survey were reproduced in copperplate and are considered to be the oldest published depiction of a gypsum cave in Germany. From the mid 70s the “Schlotten” became subject of speleological research for a short period of time. The abandoned projects have only recently been re-established. Two of the “Schlotten” are accessible via the Mining Museum Wettelrode: the “Segen-Gottes-Schlotte” and the “Elisabethschaechter Schlotte” near Sangerhausen. The “Wimmelburger Schlotten” near Eisleben are the largest gypsum caves in Germany and to a certain extent accessible for research.


The Piei mine-cave (Lagnes, Vaucluse, France) locates at the contact of the Vaucluse Mounts and the Carpentras basin, close to the Fontaine de Vaucluse spring. It develops in Cretaceous limestone (Urgonian facies), close to a main regional lineament, the Salon-Cavaillon fault. The cave was mined in the XIXth Century, giving access to passages previously filled with diverse neogene sands and massive iron crusts. The exploitation mainly followed the natural passages. The origin of the cave is related to hypogenic flow rising from deep fissures or hydraulic breccias, with ferruginous deposition at the contact or on top of the neogene sands filling. Microbial activity was present during the cave activity, associated to the ferruginous deposits. This cave probably corresponds to the Neogene period, when the Vaucluse plateau was uplifted. The Piei mine-cave record the position of the corresponding base level and thus the progressive tilting of the massive, together with a range of similar caves located around the western edge of the Vaucluse Plateau


Since many years cavers from different caving teams are carrying out a systematic study on the caves of Sulcis-Iglesiente, including geomorphological studies. Over thirty natural caves have been explored, surveyed and registered in the past few years, and over half of these have been made accessible by mine galleries. Among these are worth to be mentioned the “Tre Sorelle” of Domusnovas: these are three mine caves intercepted by the San Paolo mine tunnel. This tunnel, whose collapsed entrance has been reopened after a long digging campaign, has been explored and surveyed for around 700 meters. A total of 10 natural caves, mostly developed along fractures, have been explored and mapped, with developments ranging between 10 and 250 meters and depths from 15 to over 160 meters. Only two of these caves were previously known in the Regional Cave Register. In most of the caves, speleothems consist mainly of flowstones, some of which are clear or usually white, others are dark-brown or tending to black. Some samples of the first and the second flowstone types were collected respectively from the “Sesta Sorella” and “Seconda Sorella” Caves. The powders of these samples were analysed by an X-ray diffractometer. The first type consists of thicker layers of white and fibrous aragonite, which sometimes alternate with thinner layers of grey columnar calcite. In some samples, however, calcite interlayers were absent and just aragonite was found. The second type is composed of alternating layers of darkbrown hemimorphite. Some additional analyses were performed on these samples by Laser Ablation ICP-MS to determine the concentration of minor and trace elements in the different layers and mineralogical phases. The most abundant minor elements in calcite layers are Mg and Zn. Magnesium is about constant (~ 2000 ppm) on different spots and remains under the average Mg content of the cave calcite in this region, whereas Zn ranges from 103 to 104 ppm and is well above the Zn average in calcite of caves in the world. Barium concentration is about 80 ppm and more abundant than Pb (20 ppm) and Sr (10 ppm). Barium is also the main minor element in aragonite, where it can reach almost 2000 ppm. The Zn concentration is very high even in aragonite and is comparable to that of Sr (400-500 ppm), overcoming considerably the Pb concentration (20 ppm). In hemimorphite, the most abundant minor elements are Al and Fe (about 104 ppm). However, it was not quantified how much of these are in the hemimorphite lattice or come from some impurities. Actually, we notice that concentration of Fe and Al in the black layers of hemimorphite is an order of magnitude greater than in the brown ones. In addition, the black layers show an abrupt increase of Mn concentration, which overcomes Fe and Al. The evolution of these flowstones is most probably related to the circulation of fluids connected to the oxidation of sulphides, specially sphalerite.

Naica caves: perhaps the most important mine caves of the world, 2013, Badino Giovanni, Forti Paolo

In 2005 La Venta Esplorazioni Geografiche together with C/Producciones of Mexico City and Peñoles Society started with the “Projecto Naica” a complex multidisciplinary project to explore, document and study all the relevant aspects of Naica caves. The project lasted about five years. Thanks to the “Projecto Naica” it is now clear that the Naica caves are presently the most important mine caves of the world, not only from the aesthetic point of view but also from the scientific one. But these cave will be likely destroyed in a short span of time and therefore La Venta Esplorazioni Geografiche is now working hard to try to preserve for future generations not only the memory and the records (already achieved with the “Projecto Naica”), but also a significant part of this incredible underground world.


The Giant geode of Pulpí (Almería, SE Spain) hosts some of the most outstanding selenite crystals of the world and the largest ones discovered in Europe. Pinacoidal high-purity selenite crystals up to 2 metres long cover totally its walls, floor and ceiling. The cave void where the geode was formed is in an abandoned mine 3 km far from the coastline and 50 m deep from the surface. The peculiar genesis could be related to the mixing processes between hydrothermal fluids and salt water in the aquifer. The discovery (December 2000) was considered an important highlight in the geological heritage of Spain but not many things have been done since 10 years. Projects developed for their conservation were paralysed and no legal figure of protection is active nowadays. Only the interest of touristic valorisation is still alive but in reality the initial tourist projects are stopped. Only one previous project of “waste mining removal” is active. Nevertheless this project is partially provoking a controversial effect: the destruction and/or decontextualization of some surface mining remains. No doubt the Geode has a tourist interest, which must be tempered by environmental restrictions limiting the public visits. First results demonstrated that a continuous visit of two or three people for more than 10 min- utes provokes the appearance of condensation and risks of corrosion of the gypsum crystals. Although any tourist adaptation must not permit direct visits to the geode indoor and levels/contents like Hg and Rn must be controlled. Regrettably, communication to the authorities of this special situation decreased their interest for the protection and touristization. The present proposal is to highlight not only the geode but the mining environment showing that valorization of this geological-natural heritage is still feasible.


Lead ores were mined extensively in the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin during the middle of the XIXth century, when the Upper Mississippi Valley Lead District was one of the major lead-producing regions in the world. Much of the ore was removed from caves that were initially entered directly from the surface or later intersected by vertical shafts or near-horizontal adits. Lead ore mining began around 1815, and was most prevalent between 1825 and 1870, with peak production in the 1840s and an almost uninterrupted decline in production after 1850. Ores were extracted from at least ten prominent mine caves in dolostones in the Platteville and Galena Formations South of the Wisconsin River, and the mine caves in total represent perhaps 50% of the local cave population. Among the more significant lead mine caves are the St. John Mine (Snake Cave), Dudley Cave, the Arthur and Company Mine Cave, the Brown and Turley Mine and the Atkinson Mine Cave. Caves North of the Wisconsin River in the Prairie du Chien Formation dolostones apparently yielded insignificant volumes of ore. Mining has altered the original caves considerably, and there remains considerable evidence of the mining, including excavated and modified passages up to 15 meters wide with rooms and pillars, drill holes and mining tools. Outside the caves there are extensive spoil piles, together with the remains of ore smelters and abandoned settlements. Although none of the lead mine caves remain active industrially, they remain import- ant in several contexts: they provide information about regional speleogenesis; they played a pivotal role in early European and African American settlement of Wisconsin; they were economically of great significance during the XIXth century; and they are important now as bat hibernacula, as caving sites and in regional tourism.

Results 1 to 15 of 19
You probably didn't submit anything to search for