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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 parietal fauna is pertaining to the inhabitants on the walls of the entrance and twilight zones of a cave [23].?

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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 salt dissolution (Keyword) returned 14 results for the whole karstbase:
Development of the Wink Sink in west Texas, USA, due to salt dissolution and collapse., 1989, Johnson K. S.

Glacial loading and unloading: a possible cause of rock-salt dissolution in the Western Canadian Basin, 1997, Anderson N. L. , Hinds R. C.

Richard Lake, an evaporite-karst depression in the Holbrook basin, Arizona, 1997, Neal J. T. , Colpitts R. M. ,
Richard Lake is a circular depression 35 km SE of Winslow, Arizona, about 1.6 km wide and with topographic closure of 15-23 m. The depression is 5 km south of McCauley Sinks, another depressed area about 2 km wide which contains some 40 large sinkholes. Richard Lake formerly contained water after heavy rains prior to headwater drainage modification but is now dry most of the time. It is situated within the Moenkopi / Kaibab outcrop belt with Coconino Sandstone at shallow depth near the southwestern margin of the subsurface Permian evaporite deposit in the Holbrook Basin. Outcropping strata are predominantly limestone, but the salt-karst features result from collapse of these units into salt-dissolution cavities developed in the Corduroy Member of the Schnebly Hill Formation of the Sedona Group (formerly called the Supai Salt) that underlies the Coconino. Richard Lake is interpreted as a collapse depression containing concentric faults, pressure ridges, and a 200m wide sinkhole in the center. A second set of pressure ridges parallels the axis of the nearby western end of the Holbrook Anticline, trending generally N 30 degrees W. In the alluvium at the bottom of the central sinkhole, two secondary piping drain holes were observed in early 1996. Northwest-trending fissures also were observed on the depression flanks, essentially parallel to the regional structure. The presence of Richard Lake amidst the preponderance of salt-karst features along the Holbrook Anticline suggests a similar origin by salt dissolution, but with distinct manifestation resulting from variation in overburden thick?less and consolidation. Similarities of origin between Richard Lake and McCauley Sinks seem likely, because of their similar geological setting, size, appearance, and proximity. Two lesser developed depressions of smaller dimensions occur in tandem immediately west along a N 62 degrees W azimuth. Secondary sinkholes occur within each of these depressions, as at Richard Lake. Breccia pipes are apt to be found beneath all of these structures

Mesozoic dissolution tectonics on the West Central Shelf, UK Central North Sea, 1999, Clark Ja, Cartwright Ja, Stewart Sa,
3-D seismic mapping of the Upper Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay Formation on the West Central Shelf in the Central North Sea reveals a complex fault array which is constrained by seismic interpretation and well control to be of late Jurassic/early Cretaceous age. Fault shapes in plan-view range from linear to circular. Linear fault lengths are 200-300 m to 5 km, the strongly curved and circular faults range in diameter from 100-1000 m. Fault trends are apparently random and display no correlation in location or trend with basement (sub-Zechstein) structures. There is, however, a strong link between this fault pattern and the structure of the top Zechstein (top salt) surface. Linear faults occur at the edges of elongate salt walls and the circular faults lie directly above structures which have been interpreted here as tall, steep-sided salt chimneys. The salt chimneys are present only in the thick, elongate minibasins of Triassic sediment which lie between the salt walls. It is argued that salt dissolution controls the timing, location, orientation and shape of the late Jurassic/early Cretaceous faults. A model is provided to account for the development of both salt walls and chimneys. We suggest that early Triassic karstification of the Zechstein evaporites led to development of an array of circular collapse features. During the ensuing episode of Triassic halokinesis which led to minibasin subsidence and salt wall growth, salt passively 'intruded' the circular collapse features within the subsiding minibasins to form narrow salt chimneys. The resulting array of salt walls and chimneys was subject to dissolution during subsequent subaerial exposure and the late Jurassic marine transgression of the basin (creating the observed fault array), prior to sealing of the salt from circulating groundwater by compaction of the Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous shales which blanket the area. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved

Speleogenesis in salts, with particular reference to the Mount Sedom area, Israel, 2000, Frumkin A.
Salt dissolution often occurs in deeply buried beds, where caves are hardly known. Caves are normally formed by selective dissolution along flow routes, rather than complete dissolution of the bulk salt mass. Most salt caves are found in diapirs, where open fissures drain meteoric water, rapidly enlarging to form vadose caves. Salt caves develop faster than other cave types, allowing their use as a natural laboratory for speleogenesis. Salt karst terrains exist mainly in arid climates where rock salt outcrops may escape complete destruction by dissolution. Known salt caves are mostly of Holocene age, while older ones are gradually destroyed by dissolution and collapse. The Mount Sedom salt diapir, with some 20 km of salt caves, is the most studied area of salt karst. Its vadose caves are formed by captured ephemeral streams. Cave profiles are adjusted to base level, allowing reconstruction of the evolutionary history of the region. Some 57% of Mount Sedom surface area is drained by the underground karst system. Waters in cave conduits do not reach saturation during flood flow, unless the water is ponded for at least several hours. Common cave features are vertical shafts, close to the cave inlet, and sub-horizontal passages, leading to outlets at base level. Where there is no fissure connection to the edge of the mountain, an inlet cave is formed, capable of absorbing the flood discharge in a terminal pond. Water and solutes escape from the pond by slow seepage through narrow fissures to a regional aquifer.

Paleosubsidence and active subsidence due to evaporite dissolution in the Zaragoza area (Huerva River valley, NE Spain): processes, spatial distribution and protection measures for transport routes, 2004, Guerrero J. , Gutierrez F. , Lucha P. ,
The lowest 17-km long reach of the Huerva River valley, down to its confluence with the Ebro River in Zaragoza city, flows across salt-bearing evaporites of the Ebro Tertiary Basin (NE Spain). Upstream, the horizontally lying Miocene evaporites are interfingered with non-soluble distal alluvial fan facies (shales and sandstones). The proportion of soluble facies in the Huerva River valley increases in a downstream direction towards the basin depocenter. On the basis of the type and magnitude of the paleosubsidence features, the valley has been divided into four reaches. Along reach I, undeformed terrace deposits less than 4 m thick rest on insoluble detrital bedrock. In reaches II and III, dissolution at the alluvium-bedrock boundary has generated local thickening, deformation and paleocollapse structures, which only affect the alluvial mantle. In reach IV, terrace deposits thicken to over 60 m resulting from a large-scale synsedimentary subsidence. In this sector, subsidence locally affects to both the alluvium and the underlying bedrock. This indicates that dissolution acts at the rockhead beneath the alluvial cover (alluvial karst) and within the evaporitic substratum (interstratal karst). The development of an intraevaporitic karst in reach IV is attributed to gypsum and salt dissolution. Irregular terrace gravel bodies (gravel pockets) embedded in a fine-grained matrix associated with paleocollapse structures have been interpreted as liquefaction-fluidization structures resulting from ground acceleration and suction induced by catastrophic collapses. Subsidence is currently active in the region affecting areas with a thin alluvial cover in reaches III and IV. The low subsidence activity in most of Zaragoza city is explained by the presence of thickened (around 50 m) and indurated alluvial deposits. In the surrounding area, numerous buildings in Cadrete and Santa Fe villages have been severely damaged by subsidence. Natural and human-induced subsidence favours the development of slope movements in the gypsum scarp overlooking Cadrete village. Several transport routes including the Imperial Canal (irrigation canal) and the recently completed Madrid-Barcelona high-speed railway are affected by human-induced sinkholes. The paleocollapse structures exposed in the trenches of this railway and a ring road under construction point to hazardous locations underlain by cavities and collapse structures where special protection measures should be applied. Rigid structures are recommended beneath the high-speed railway with sufficient strength to span the larger sinkholes with no deformation. Electronic monitoring devices linked to a warning system can detect subtle subsidence-induced deformations in carriageways or railways. This research demonstrates that the study of the paleokarst helps to understand the processes involved in the present-day subsidence phenomena and their general spatial distribution. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

Origin of the salt valleys in the Canyonlands section of the Colorado Plateau - Evaporite-dissolution collapse versus tectonic subsidence, 2004, Gutierrez F. ,
The salt valleys over the axis of the salt-cored anticlines in the Paradox fold and fault belt (Canyonlands, Utah and Colorado) are created by subsidence of the anticline crests. Traditionally, the collapse of the anticlinal crests was attributed to dissolution of the salt walls (diapirs) forming the anticline cores. Recent studies based on scaled physical models and field observations propose that the salt valleys are a result of regional extension and that salt dissolution had only a minor influence in the development of the axial depressions. This paper presents several arguments and lines of evidence that refute the tectonic model and support the salt dissolution subsidence interpretation. The development of contractional structures in salt dissolution experiments led the advocates of the tectonic interpretation to reject the dissolution-induced subsidence explanation. However, these salt dissolution models do not reproduce the karstification of salt walls in a realistic way, since their analog involves removal of salt from the base of the diapirs during the experiments. Additionally, numerous field examples and laboratory models conducted by other authors indicate that brittle subsidence in karst settings is commonly controlled by subvertical gravity faults. Field evidence against the regional extension model includes (1) a thick cap rock at the top of the salt walls, (2) the concentration of subsidence deformation structures along the crest of the anticlines (salt walls), (3) deformational structures not consistent with the proposed NNE extension, like crestal synforms and NE-SW grabens, (4) dissolution-induced subsidence structures controlled by ring faulting, revealing deep-seated dissolution, (5) large blocks foundered several hundred meters into the salt wall, (6) evidence of recent and active dissolution subsidence, and (7) the aseismic nature of the recently active collapse faults. Although underground salt dissolution seems to be the main cause for the generation of the salt valleys, this phenomenon may have been favored by regional extension tectonics that enhance the circulation of groundwater and salt dissolution. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

Evolution actuelle des phnomnes karstiques dans la Cordillera de la Sal (Atacama, Nord Chili), 2006, Sesiano Jean
New observations about the very slow present-day evolution of karstic phenomena in the Cordillera de la Sal (Atacama, Chile) - A second visit to the salt diapir in the Cordillera de la Sal, on the western margin of the Salar de Atacama was conducted 9 years after the first one. We noticed practically no change in the landscape morphology in that very arid region. A stainless steel piton driven at the base of a small cliff of rock salt was used to measure the salt dissolution rate. It did not show any extra thickness loss. A new passage system, partly underground, was discovered and mapped. Several swallow holes were observed, most of them half-filled with eolian sand. Undoubtedly they become active as soon as enough rain is collected at the surface. The underground water flows probably in the direction of the Salar in order to feed the water-table in the post evaporitic sediments, following the prominently N 140o oriented fracture system of the Cordillera de la Sal. Under the present climatic conditions, which are hyper-arid, observations on a time scale longer than the decade are essential to see changes in morphology.

Sinkhole 'swarms' along the Dead Sea coast: Reflection of disturbance of lake and adjacent groundwater systems, 2006, Yechieli Yoseph, Abelson Meir, Bein Amos, Crouvi Onn, Shtivelman Vladimir,
More than a thousand sinkholes have developed along the western coast of the Dead Sea since the early 1980s, more than 75% of them since 1997, all occurring within a narrow strip 60 km long and <1 km wide. This highly dynamic sinkhole development has accelerated in recent years to a rate of [~]150-200 sinkholes per year. The sinkholes cluster mostly over specific sites up to 1000 m long and 200 m wide, which spread parallel to the general direction of the fault system associated with the Dead Sea Transform. Research employing borehole and geophysical tools reveals that the sinkhole formation results from the dissolution of an [~]10,000-yr-old salt layer buried at a depth of 20-70 m below the surface. The salt dissolution by groundwater is evidenced by direct observations in test boreholes; these observations include large cavities within the salt layer and groundwater within the confined subaquifer beneath the salt layer that is undersaturated with respect to halite. Moreover, the groundwater brine within the salt layer exhibits geochemical evidence for actual salt dissolution (Na/Cl = 0.5-0.6 compared to Na/Cl = 0.25 in the Dead Sea brine). The groundwater heads below the salt layer have the potential for upward cross-layer flow, and the water is actually invading the salt layer, apparently along cracks and active faults. The abrupt appearance of the sinkholes, and their accelerated expansion thereafter, reflects a change in the groundwater regime around the shrinking lake and the extreme solubility of halite in water. The eastward retreat of the shoreline and the declining sea level cause an eastward migration of the fresh-saline water interface. As a result the salt layer, which originally was saturated with Dead Sea water over its entire spread, is gradually being invaded by fresh groundwater at its western boundary, which mixes and displaces the original Dead Sea brine. Accordingly, the location of the western boundary of the salt layer, which dates back to the shrinkage of the former Lake Lisan and its transition to the current Dead Sea, constrains the sinkhole distribution to a narrow strip along the Dead Sea coast. The entire phenomenon can be described as a hydrological chain reaction; it starts by intensive extraction of fresh water upstream of the Dead Sea, continues with the eastward retreat of the lake shoreline, which in turn modifies the groundwater regime, finally triggering the formation of sinkholes

The Dead Sea sinkhole hazard: Geophysical assessment of salt dissolution and collapse, 2011, Frumkin Amos, Ezersky Michael, Alzoubi Abdallah, Akkawi Emad, Abueladas Abdelrahman

A geophysical approach is presented for analyzing processes of subsurface salt dissolution and associated sinkhole hazard along the Dead Sea. The implemented methods include Seismic Refraction (SRFR), Transient Electromagnetic Method (TEM), Electric Resistivity Tomography (ERT), and Ground Penetration Radar (GPR). The combination of these methods allows the delineation of the salt layer boundaries, estimating its porosity distribution, finding cavities within the salt layer, and identifying deformations in the overlying sediments. This approach is shown to be useful for anticipating the occurrence of specific sinkholes, as demonstrated on both shores of the Dead Sea. These sinkholes are observed mainly along the edge of a salt layer deposited during the latest Pleistocene, when Lake Lisan receded to later become the Dead Sea. This salt layer is dissolved by aggressive water flowing from adjacent and underlying aquifers which drain to the Dead Sea. Sinkhole formation is accelerating today due to the rapid fall of the Dead Sea levels during the last 30 years, caused by anthropogenic use of its water.


The Grosmont: the worlds largest unconventional oil reservoir hosted in polyphase-polygenetic karst, 2013, Machel Hans G. , Borrero Mary Luz, Dembicki Eugene, Huebscher Harald4

The Upper Devonian Grosmont platform in Alberta, Canada, is the world’s largest heavy oil reservoir hosted in carbonates, with 400-500 billion barrels of IOIP at an average depth of about 250 – 400 m. Advanced thermal recovery technologies, such as SAGD and electrical in-situ retorting, much higher world market prices for oil and certain political pressures have led to a flurry of activity in the Grosmont since 2006.
The sedimentary stratigraphy of the Grosmont reservoir consists of six stacked car-bonate units interbedded with marls and some evaporites. The latter two originally acted as aquitards during diagenesis but are breached or missing in parts of the area today. Dolomitization by density-driven reflux was the first pervasive diagenetic pro-cess. A dense fracture network was created in three or four phases. Most fractures probably originated from collapse following subsurface salt dissolution and/or from Laramide tectonics far to the west, whereby pulsed crustal loading in the fold-and-thrust belt created a dynamic forebulge in the Grosmont region via multiple pulses of basin-wide crustal flexing, each followed by relaxation. The fracture network probably was reactivated and/or expanded by glacial loading and post-glacial isostatic rebound in the Pleistocene and Holocene, respectively.
The region experienced three or four prolonged periods of epigene karstification, alt-hough there is tangible evidence for only two of them in the Grosmont platform. The first of these episodes was a ‘warm epigene karstification’ during the Jurassic - Creta-ceous, and the second was/is a ‘cold epigene karstification’ that started sometime in the Cenozoic and is continuing to this day. In addition, there is circumstantial evidence for hypogene ‘karstification’ (= dissolution) throughout much of the geologic history of the Grosmont since the Late Devonian. Karstification was accompanied and/or by fol-lowed by extensive hydrocarbon biodegradation.


SALT KARST AND COLLAPSE STRUCTURES IN THE ANADARKO BASIN OF OKLAHOMA AND TEXAS, 2013, Johnson, K. S.

Permian bedded salt is widespread in the Anadarko Basin of western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, where partial or total dissolution of the shallowest salt in some areas has resulted in subsidence and/or collapse of overlying strata. Groundwater has locally dissolved these salts at depths of 10–250 m. The distribution (presence or absence) of salt-bearing units, typically 80–150 m thick, is confirmed by interpretation of geophysical logs of many petroleum tests and a few scattered cores. Salt dissolution by ground water is referred to as “salt karst.”Chaotic structures, collapse features, breccia pipes, and other evidence of disturbed bedding are present in Permian, Cretaceous, and Tertiary strata that overly areas of salt karst. The dip of Permian and post-Permian strata in the region normally is less than one degree, mainly towards the axis of the Anadarko Basin. Where strata locally dip in various directions at angles of 5–25 degrees or more, and underlying salt units show clear evidence of dissolution, these chaotic dips must result (mostly, if not totally) from subsidence and collapse into underlying salt-dissolution cavities.Gypsum karst and resultant collapse of overlying strata have been proposed in many parts of the Anadarko Basin. However, the gypsum beds typically are only 1–6 m thick and more than 100 m deep, and cannot contribute to disruption of outcropping strata—except where they are within 10–20 m of the surface.Typical areas of disturbed bedding comprise several hectares, or more, with outcrops of moderately dipping strata—as though large blocks of rock have foundered and subsided into large underground cavities. Other examples of disturbed bedding are small-diameter breccia pipes, or chimneys, that extend vertically up from salt-karst cavities, through several hundred meters of overlying strata. The best evidence of these chimneys are collapsed blocks of Cretaceous strata, chaotically dropped some 50 m, or more, that are now juxtaposed against various Permian formations on the north flank of the Anadarko Basin. Any study of surface or shallow-subsurface geology in the Anadarko Basin must consider the influence of subsurface salt karst on the structure and distribution of overlying rocks


Incipient vertical traction carpets within collapsed sinkhole fills, 2014,

Small vertically oriented traction carpets are reported from the collapsed sandy fills of 100 m deep Devonian limestone sinkholes underlying the Lower Cretaceous Athabasca oil sands deposit in north-eastern Alberta, Western Canada. Dissolution of 100 m of underlying halite salt beds caused cataclysmic collapse of the sinkhole floors and water saturated sinkhole sand fills to descend very rapidly. Turbulent currents flushed upper sinkhole fills of friable sandstone blocks and disaggregated sand and quartz pebble for tens of metres. Laminar deposits with inverse grading accumulated as many as six to eight curvilinear entrained pebble streaks, 10 to 30 cm long, vertically impinged against the sides of descending collapse blocks. These deposits were initiated as vertically oriented early stage traction carpets that interlocked fine sand grains and inversely graded overlying pebbles entrained below the dilute overlying turbulent flows. Vortexes that flushed these sinkhole fills and induced these depositional processes may have lasted only seconds before the very rapid descents abruptly halted. Some of the fabrics were suspended vertically in-place and preserved from unlocking and obliteration. These small fabrics provide insight into the instability and ephemeral character of the transition from strong gravity-driven grain falls to very early stages of traction carpet formation. These short-lived deposits of very thin sand layers resulted from sufficient incipient frictional freezing that grain interlocking overcame, however briefly, the strong gravity drives of the vertical falls that would have otherwise dispersed grains and obliterated any organized fabric patterns. Tenuous frictionally locked grains were also suspended at the centres of hyperbolic grain fall flows that briefly developed between turbulent flow eddies, some of which were fortuitously preserved. Some of these suspended grain locking zones passed downward onto the relatively more stable surfaces of the rapidly descending block surfaces. The morphogenesis of these early stage traction carpets differ from more fully developed deposits elsewhere because of their short-lived transport, dynamic instability and vertical orientation.


Sinkholes, collapse structures and large landslides in an active salt dome submerged by a reservoir: The unique case of the Ambal ridge in the Karun River, Zagros Mountains, Iran, 2015,

Ambal ridge, covering 4 km2, is a salt pillowof Gachsaran Formationwith significant salt exposures in direct contact  with the Karun River, Zagros Mountains. The highly cavernous salt dome is currently being flooded by the  Gotvand Reservoir, second largest in Iran. Geomorphic evidence, including the sharp deflection of the Karun  River and defeated streams indicate that Ambal is an active halokinetic structure, probably driven by erosional  unloading. Around 30% of the salt dome is affected by large landslides up to ca. 50 × 106 m3 in volume. Slope  oversteepening related to fluvial erosion and halokinetic rise seems to be the main controlling factor. A total of  693 sinkholes have been inventoried (170 sinkholes/km2), for which a scaling relationship has been produced.  The depressions occur preferentially along a belt with a high degree of clustering. This spatial distribution is  controlled by the proximity to the river, slope gradient and halite content in the bedrock. A large compound  depression whose bottom lies below the normal maximum level of the reservoir will likely be flooded by  water table rise forming a lake. The impoundment of the reservoir has induced peculiar collapse structures  220–280 m across, expressed by systems of arcuate fissures and scarps. Rapid subsurface salt dissolution is  expected to generate and reactivate a large number of sinkholes and may reactivate landslideswith a significant  vertical component due to lack of basal support.


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