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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. ...

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That hydrogeology is the study of subsurface waters in their geological context [16].?

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Featured articles from Cave & Karst Science Journals
Chemistry and Karst, White, William B.
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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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Reactivated interstratal karst--example from the Late Silurian rocks of western Lake Erie (U.S.A.), 1992, Carlson Eh,
Interstratal karst developed in the Late Silurian rocks of western Lake Erie that, after a long interruption, was exhumed and reactivated. The dissolution front of the G evaporite of the Salina Group receded in the downdip direction during these two well-documented periods of subaerial exposure. The karst features that developed in the overlying Bass Islands Dolomite (Pridolian) consist of a large tabular body of collapse breccia and a number of smaller features including breccia pipes, partially filled pipes, blister caves and collapse dolines.The tabular breccia body and the breccia pipes, which originated penecontemporaneously during post-Silurian and pre-Middle Devonian subaerial exposure, occur along the updip edge of the present outcrop belt of the dolostone. They are monolithologic, fragment-supported rubble breccias, with the pipes exhibiting a greater fragment displacement, rotation and rounding, and a smaller fragment size. The matrix sediment of the tabular body is a quartz sand, an equivalent of the basal sandstone that filtered down from the erosion surface. The presence in the matrix sediment of nodular celestite, a later replacement of evaporites that formed when the sediment was still soft, indicates that a sabkha environment existed at the time the breccia was infilled. The partially filled pipes, which form cylindrical caves that are lined with late diagenetic celestite, are believed to be cogenetic with the collapse breccias.The blister caves and dolines occur downdip from the breccias, postdating Pleistocene glaciation and predating isostatic rebound. These caves are isolated, crescent- or oval-shaped openings with domed roofs, averaging about 60 m in width and 4 m in height. The hydration and resulting expansion of lenticular bodies of anhydrite along the receding solution front of the G unit is believed to be the cause of doming. The numerous crescentic caves, originating from the dissolution of this gypsum and the subsequent collapse of the domed roofs, are expressed at the surface as shallow dolines

REACTIVATED INTERSTRIATAL KARST EXAMPLE FROM THE LATE SILURIAN ROCKS OF WESTERN LAKE ERIE (USA), 1992, Carlson Eh,
Interstratal karst developed in the Late Silurian rocks of western Lake Erie that, after a long interruption, was exhumed and reactivated. The dissolution front of the G evaporite of the Salina Group receded in the downdip direction during these two well-documented periods of subaerial exposure. The karst features that developed in the overlying Bass Islands Dolomite (Pridolian) consist of a large tabular body of collapse breccia and a number of smaller features including breccia pipes, partially filled pipes, blister caves and collapse dolines. The tabular breccia body and the breccia pipes, which originated penecontemporaneously during post-Silurian and pre-Middle Devonian subaerial exposure, occur along the updip edge of the present outcrop belt of the dolostone. They are monolithologic, fragment-supported rubble breccias, with the pipes exhibiting a greater fragment displacement, rotation and rounding, and a smaller fragment size. The matrix sediment of the tabular body is a quartz sand, an equivalent of the basal sandstone that filtered down from the erosion surface. The presence in the matrix sediment of nodular celestite, a later replacement of evaporites that formed when the sediment was still soft, indicates that a sabkha environment existed at the time the breccia was infilled. The partially filled pipes, which form cylindrical caves that are lined with late diagenetic celestite, are believed to be cogenetic with the collapse breccias. The blister caves and dolines occur downdip from the breccias, postdating Pleistocene glaciation and predating isostatic rebound. These caves are isolated, crescent- or oval-shaped openings with domed roofs, averaging about 60 m in width and 4 m in height. The hydration and resulting expansion of lenticular bodies of anhydrite along the receding solution front of the G unit is believed to be the cause of doming. The numerous crescentic caves, originating from the dissolution of this gypsum and the subsequent collapse of the domed roofs, are expressed at the surface as shallow dolines

Les Forts de Pierre ou Stone forests de Lunan (Yunnan, Chine), 1996, Ford D. , Salomon J. N. , Williams P.
"Stone forests " are well known in Southern China. We describe the type site in Lunan County on the Yunnan Plateau at about 1800 m. "Stone forests " are a spectacular form of karren, similar to the "tsingy" of Madagascar or pinnacles of Mulu. In Yunnan they are developed in massive Permian limestones and dolomites. The "Stone forests" are high fluted towers, typically more ruiniform in dolostones, that attain 20-30m in height, exceptionally 40m. They occur in patches of several square kilometres in extent in a rolling polygonal karst landscape with about 150 m local relief Three phases of evoluti6n are recognized spanning 250 Ma from the Permian until the present: 1) Mid Permian karstification and burial by Upper Permian continental basalts, 2) Mesozoic erosion and re-karstification, then burial in the Eocene by thick continental deposits, 3) Late Tertiary and Quaternary exhumation and re-karstification. No other "Stone forests" in the world show this complexity of evolution.

Le Luirographe : tude de la crue du 22 avril 1995 (rseau de la Luire, Vercors), 1996, Morel, L.
The Luirographe can record automatically parameters such as the water height in a karstic network. Placed at the beginning of April 1995, at -200 m, it recorded for the first time the Luire swelling, which lasted two days. The cave of the Luire is situated in the massif of Vercors, with an hydrogeological basin of 230 km2. The Vercors is a forest of middle mountain within the French Pre-Alps of the North. The Luire swelling only exits when there are very big nival spate accentued by important rainfalls and by a southern wind. Such event arrives only every other year on average. The difference between the high and low level of karst flood can reach the impressive height of 475 m, the most important known in the world. It is the difference between altitude of saturated zone where there is the continuous spring of Arbois and the temporary emergence of the Luire, known up to -451 m and are 20 km apart.

A morphological analysis of Tibetan limestone pinnacles: Are they remnants of tropical karst towers and cones?, 1996, Zhang D. A. ,
Limestone pinnacles on mountain slopes in Tibet were measured for morphological analysis and the results were compared with those from tropical towers and cones on karst mountain slopes of Shuicheng, southwest China. In the form analyses, the symmetric products (P) of Tibetan pinnacles present large differences between individual pinnacles. The plan forms, represented by long/short axes ratios (R(L/S)), are mostly irregular and scattered and the diameter/height ratios (R(dfh)) reveal that the Tibetan I features could belong to any three cone or tower karat types, according to Balaze's classification of karst towers. The direction of pinnacle development seems to be primarily related to slope aspect and to geological structure. The morphological structure and orientation analyses show that pinnacle development is largely controlled by lithological and stratigraphic conditions. The closed water catchment structure, which is a basic feature in karat areas, has not been found in the limestone pinnacle areas of Tibet. The results of the form and structure analyses for the Tibetan pinnacles differ from those for tropical and subtropical karst areas. Further analysis indicates that Tibetan limestone pinnacles were formed by strong physical weathering under periglacial conditions. Four kinds of morphogenesis of the pinnacles are suggested

3-D seismic evidence of the effects of carbonate karst collapse on overlying clastic stratigraphy and reservoir compartmentalization, 1996, Hardage B. A. , Carr D. L. , Lancaster D. E. , Simmons J. L. , Elphick R. Y. , Pendleton V. M. , Johns R. A. ,
A multidisciplinary team, composed of stratigraphers, petrophysicists, reservoir engineers, and geophysicists, studied a portion of Boonsville gas field in the Fort Worth Basin of north-central Texas to determine how modern geophysical, geological, and engineering techniques can be combined to understand the mechanisms by which fluvio-deltaic depositional processes create reservoir compartmentalization in a low- to moderate-accommodation basin. An extensive database involving well logs: cores, production, and pressure data from more than 200 wells, 26 mi(2) (67 km(2)) of 3-D seismic data, vertical seismic profiles (VSPs), and checkshots was assembled to support this investigation. We found the mast Important geologic influence on stratigraphy and reservoir compartmentalization in this basin to be the existence of numerous karst collapse chimneys over the 26-mi(2) (67 km(2)) area covered by the 3-D seismic grid, These near-vertical karst collapses originated in, or near, the deep Ordovician-age Ellenburger carbonate section and created vertical chimneys extending as high as 2500 fl (610 m) above their point of origin causing significant disruptions in the overlying elastic strata. These karst disruptions lend to be circular in map view, having diameters ranging from approximately 500 ft (150 m) to as much as 3000 ft (915 m) in some cases. Within our study area, these karat features were spaced 2000 ft (610 m) to 6000 ft (1830 m) apart, on average. The tallest karst collapse zones reached into the Middle Pennsylvanian Strawn section, which is some 2500 ft (760 m) above the Ellenburger carbonate where the karst generation began. We used 3-D seismic imaging to show how these karst features affected the strata above the Ellenburger and how they have created a well-documented reservoir compartment in the Upper Caddo, an upper Atoka valley-fill sandstone that typically occurs 2000 ft (610 m) above the Ellenburger. By correlating these 3-D seismic images with outcrops of Ellenburger karat collapses, we document that the physical dimensions (height, diameter, cross-sectional area) of the seismic disruptions observed in the 3-D data equate to the karst dimensions seen in outcrops. We also document that this Ellenburger carbonate dissolution phenomenon extends over at least 500 mi (800 km), and by inference we suggest karst models like we describe here may occur in any basin that has a deep, relatively thick section of Paleozoic carbonates that underlie major unconformities

Induced seismicity at Wujiangdu Reservoir, China: A case induced in the Karst area, 1996, Hu Y. L. , Liu Z. Y. , Yang Q. Y. , Chen X. C. , Hu P. , Ma W. T. , Lei J. ,
To date 19 cases of reservoir-induced seismicity have been acknowledged in China and 15 of them are associated with karst. The Wujiangdu case is a typical one induced in the karst area. The dam with a height of 165 m is the highest built in a karst area in China. Seismic activity has been successively induced in five reservoir segments seven months after the impoundment in 1979. A temporary seismic network consisting of 8 stations was set up in,ne of the segments some 40 km upstream from the dam. The results indicate that epicenters were distributed along the immediate banks, composed of karstified carbonate, and focal depths were only several hundred meters. Most of the focal mechanisms were of thrust and normal faulting. It is suggested that karst may be an important factor in inducing seismicity. It can provide an hydraulic connection to change the saturation and pressure and also weak planes for dislocation to induce seismicity

Morphology of the border cave hominid ulna and humerus, 1996, Pearson O. M. , Grine F. E. ,
Hominid bones from Border Cave (BC) have been the subject of controversy with regard to the question of modern human origins. New dating assays suggest that while some of the BC remains are of comparatively recent age (i.e. < 20 kyr), several postcranial fragments derive from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) layers. Among the latter, a proximal ulna in comparable to one from the MSA at Klasies River Mouth, in that both have an archaic pattern of morphology in the relative height of the coronoid and olecranon processes. This configuration appears to characterize Neandertals, and is displayed also by more ancient African ulnae. The BC humeral diaphysis has moderately thick cortical bone, but us otherwise unremarkable. The proximal ulnar morphology might suggest that the MSA inhabitants of South Africa engaged in activities similar to those of Neandertals and other postcranially archaic hominids. If the modern-looking BC-1 cranium in contemporaneous with the BC postcranial bones, this would bear testament to the mosaic nature of human evolution. Alternatively, if BC-1 proves to be of recent derivation, and the postcrania are as old as the base of the BC MSA sequence has been claimed to be (c. 195 kyr), they might have been associated with more archaic crania (perhaps similar to Florisbad). Final resolution of these questions awaits determination of the absolute ages of the BC-1 cranium and the BC postcranial bones

'Hades''; A remarkable cave on Oldoinyo Lengai in the East African Rift Valley., 1998, Davies Gordon J.
Oldoinyo Lengai is the world's only active carbonatite volcano, situated in northern Tanzania within the Eastern Rift Valley, al 2.751 degrees S, 35.902 degrees E. It forms an isolated symmetrical cone at the southern end of Lake Natron, with a summit elevation of 2,890 m (9,480 ft). Periodic eruptions of ash and lava have been recorded since about 1880, and with increasing precision during this century since 1904. In 1990 a routine expedition to monitor activity levels at the summit led to the discovery of a remarkable cave located in the crater floor, filled with numerous long delicate pale yellow stalactites and stalagmites of unknown composition. Within 100 m there was considerable volcanic activity taking place, and black lava was spraying from a small cone at a height of some 10 m above the crater floor. Due to the regular emission of lava at the summit of Lengai it is unlikely that the cave could have survived intact for more than a few months at most. High internal temperatures and lack of safe access precluded any attempt at entry and sampling of the very unusual and attractive formations within the cave, but a good photographic record was obtained.

Unusual flooding in the Calernakm shaft (Alpes-maritimes, France) Origin and consequences of the phenomen on the deep drainage organisation, 1998, Audra Ph.
The Calernakm shaft is located in the Southern french Alps, near Nice It contains large galleries reaching -478 m deep During unusual high waters, the lower part floods over 100 m height The flooding is linked to a semi-dammed karst structure The galleries organisation proves that the karstification privileges subhorizontal conduits in the epiphreatic zone, without favouring any deep phreatic passages The origin of deep phreatic karsts is discussed

Pre-Devonian landscape of the Baltic Oil-Shale Basin, NW of the Russian Platform, 1999, Puura Vaino, Vaher Rein, Tuuling Igor,
The erosional relief of Ordovician and Silurian deposits in Estonia was developed during the continental period in late Silurian and early-middle Devonian times. The uplift of the area and marine regression were induced by compressional tectonics in the continental interior related to the closure of the Iapetus and Tornqvist Oceans. In the northern part of the Baltic sedimentary basin (Estonia), on the gentle southerly dipping slope between the Fennoscandian Shield (Finland) and Baltic Syneclise (Latvia), a pre-Devonian, slightly rugged erosional relief with few cuesta was developed. The pre-Devonian erosional landforms -- hills, depressions and escarpments reaching 150 m in height -- were probably buried under the Devonian deposits and then partly re-exposed by pre-Quaternary erosion. These landforms are described in detail using data from several thousands of cores drilled in the course of oil-shale and phosphorite exploration and mining

Water circulation in karst and determination of catchment areas: example of the River Zrmanja, 1999, Bonacci O,
Karst hydrological investigation of the sinking stream problem of the River Zrmanja is presented. The aim of this analysis is to assess the feasibility of constructing three hydroelectric power plants (HEPP) along the River Zrmanja course. This paper presents a suitable and simple hydrological methodology that can be applied to scarce available data obtained on complex karat terranes. The paper presents a complex but common case of water circulation in a karst system. The primary objectives of the investigations were: (a) to analyse the underground karst connections, (b) to analyse discharge conditions along the River Zrmanja, and (c) to define variations in the catchment area along the River Zrmanja. The fact that the hydrological regime of the River Zrmanja is highly variable, due to the water losses along the open streamflow, strongly influenced the selection of the locations and heights of the HEPP dams. In spite of many hydrological, meteorological and hydrogeological measurements, the River Zrmanja catchment is insufficiently gauged. This dictates the use of a simple, empirically-based hydrological methodology. The Turc (1954) and Coutagne (1954) formulas were used in determination of annual total runoff. Using these simple hydrological methods, some important engineering answers were obtained. This is a first step towards application of sophisticated hydrological models, needing large amounts of reliable data

Le karst haut-alpin du Kanin (Alpes Juliennes, Slovnie-Italie), 2000, Audra, Philippe
Kanin is a high-alpine karst located in the Italo-slovenian Julian Alps. Its surface was elaborated by the quaternary glaciers and includes some inherited discreet tertiary morphological features. Recent dye tracing has shown that the structural setting permits water infiltrated in Italian catchments to contribute to Slovene springs. Hydrodynamic and physico-chemical water analyses show extremely quick transfers of water during snow melt or heavy storms; these create spectacular overflows, such as the Boka spring which emerges as a 100 m high waterfall. The phreatic zone, linked to the impermeable dam of the So_a valley, does not significantly slow these transfers. Nevertheless, it contributes to the occurrence of low water levels during recession periods, giving highly mineralised water after long resident periods. The presence of very deep and developed karst systems is explained by the combination of advantageous factors: thick and jointed limestone, important height gradient, and considerable precipitation. Paleomagnetic dating in one of the largest systems (_rnelsko brezno) attributes some glacial sediments to the Lower Pleistocene period. Their configuration seems to show that this karst system is pre-quaternary.

Determination of escarpment age using morphologic analysis: An example from the Galilee, northern Israel, 2000, Matmon A. , Zilberman E. , Enzel Y. ,
We used topographic and structural data and very limited age control to perform quantitative morphometric analyses and to determine relative ages of escarpments bounded by late Cenozoic normal faults in the Galilee, Israel. The Galilee is an extensional zone composed of a series of uplifted and tilted blocks forming large escarpments built mainly of carbonate rocks. Two parameters used to discriminate tectonic stages are the ratio between the height of the escarpment and the total stratigraphic displacement (L) and the degree of concavity of escarpment slopes relative to a reference slope. The only dated reference slope is Mount Tur'an, [~]300 m high and formed by the Tur'an fault system, which has a total stratigraphic displacement of 625 m. A basalt flow that delimits the age of the Tur'an escarpment is dated to 4.23 {} 0.23 Ma and displaced 300 m, which is identical to the present-day topographic expression of this escarpment. The L value for this escarpment is [~]0.5. The Tur'an fault system was active prior to 4.23 Ma at slow uplift rates that enabled erosion to maintain the gentle slope over which the basalt flowed. Increased offset rates following the basalt extrusion led to the formation of the escarpment. The preservation of the basalt at the top of the escarpment indicates that erosional lowering of the upper surface of the Tur'an block has been minor since its formation. The L values indicate two stages of uplift; an early stage during which offset rates were probably low enough that they did not form topography, and a later stage that formed topography, which is preserved. The timing of the change in displacement rates from a slow continuous stage to a fast, topography-forming stage was determined by comparing the shape of the dated slope of Tur'an to that of other slopes. We conclude the following: (1) generally, the topographic profiles of different parts of each individual escarpment have similar shapes indicating similar ages; (2) escarpments having slopes that are more concave or convex than the reference Tur'an escarpment are older or younger than 4 Ma, respectively; and (3) the Galilee escarpments did not form simultaneously. A few escarpments were already major morphologic features by the early to middle Pliocene, whereas the rest formed during the late Pliocene. Morphometric analysis is a useful method for studying the geologic history of a landscape controlled by normal fault uplift and characterized by the absence of sediment deposition and where carbonate dissolution is the main erosional process. This and similar approaches can be used to discriminate tectonic stages and understand the relationship between tectonic activity and surface processes in other extensional regions

Mn-Fe deposits in shallow cryptic marine environment: examples in northwestern Mediterranean submarine caves, 2001, Allouc J, Harmelin Jg,
Black coating of hard substrates by Mn and Fe oxides has long been reported from shallow, dark, submarine caves. However, these littoral metallic deposits have never been studied in detail, despite expected analogies with deep-sea polymetallic crusts. Submarine caves are characterized by darkness and low rates of exchanges with the open sea. Lack of primary production and confinement of inner water bodies result in marked oligotrophy and extremely reduced biomass, i.e. conditions close to those prevailing in deep-sea habitats. Field evidences suggested that the formation of Mn-Fe coatings was closely tied to these particular environmental conditions. The goal of this study was to examine the detailed features of Mn-Fe coatings from dark caves with different local conditions, and to try to identify the processes responsible for their deposition. Study sites and methods Three sublittoral, single-entrance, caves were sampled by scuba diving along the coasts of Provence (France, Mediterranean Sea) (fig. 1). The first site is a large karstic cave (Tremies Cave, 16 m depth at entrance floor, 60 m long; Marseille-Cassis area) with an ascending profile which results in a buffered thermal regime and markedly oligotrophic conditions due to warm water trapping in its upper part (fig. 1 and 2). Wall fragments were sampled at 30 m (medium confinement : zone B) and 60 in (strong confinement : zone C) from the cave entrance. The second site is a large tubular cavity open in conglomerate formations (3PP Cave, 15 m depth at entrance floor, 120 m long; La Ciotat) with a descending profile which results in relative permanence of winter temperatures within the inner parts, complex water circulation and presumed greater input of sedimented particles than in the preceding cave (fig.1 and 2). Wall samples were taken at 25 m, 70 in and 100 m from entrance. The third site is a small, horizontal, cave open in quartzite formations (Bagaud Cave, 7 in depth at entrance floor, about 10 m long; WNW of Port-Cros Island, bay of Hyeres). Sampling was performed on walls of a narrow corridor between an anterior room and a smaller inner room. A sporadic outflow of continental waters is located in the inner room. The samples were preserved in 50% ethylic alcohol or studied soon after their sampling. Before carbon coating and SEM examination, or microanalyses with SEM-associated spectrometers, they were treated in a 33% Chlorox solution and thereafter washed in demineralized water and dried. Micromorphology At low-medium magnification (<20,000), the aspect of coatings varies between caves and, especially, between inner-cave locations. All the described structures are made up of Mn and Fe oxides. In Tremies Cave, coatings of walls from zone B are composed of irregular erected constructions (height : 10s to 100s μm) formed by the aggregation of roughly ovoid primary concretions of about 10 μm (fig. 3). The surface of those primary concretions displays numerous lacunose to reticulate films (pores, about 0.5 μm in diameter, are often subrounded). Remnants of these films and organomorphic corpuscles occur also within the primary concretions (fig. 4). On younger substrates (broken wall exposed since 1970), primary concretions are poorly developed and no prominent construction is visible (fig. 5). In more confined conditions (zone C), the erected constructions of ancient coatings are smaller and less numerous than in zone B but are well individualized (fig. 6). In this zone: C, besides some remnants of lacunose to reticulate films (fig. 7), there is an appearance of filaments and ovoid corpuscles (height/width : 10-30/5-15 μm), which seem to be linked to filaments by a short stalk (fig. 8). In 3 PP Cave, at 25-70 m from entrance, wall coatings present porous heaps of primary concretions (fig. 9). The surface and the inside of the latter comprise remnants of lacunose to reticulate films that evoke those observed in Tremies Cave (fig. 10 and 11). On younger substrates (hard parts of sessile invertebrates), coatings are restricted to micrometric organomorphic corpuscles with some remnants of lacunose or fibrous films (fig. 12). At 100 in from the entrance, coatings are shaped by numerous erected constructions, more or less coalescing (fig. 13). Besides remnants of lacunose films, the primary concretions contain interlacing filaments (diameter : 0.2-0.3 μm) forming cords or veils (fig. 14). In Bagaud Cave, the primary concretions are aggregated in irregular heaps (fig. 15). Lacunose films are particularly frequent and tend to form three-dimensional mamillated structures that were not observed in the other caves (fig. 16). In particular, there is an appearance of tubular structures (fig. 17) and of numerous hemispheroidal structures (diameter : 4-5 μm) with an upper orifice (fig. 18 and 19). At higher magnification (20,000), whatever the cave and inner-cave location, the aspect of oxide deposits is rather smooth or, especially, microgranular (fig. 20). Mineral composition The composition of coatings is different between caves and according to their inner-cave location. In both large caves (Tremies and 3 PP), the Mn/Fe ratio increases with the distance from the cave entrance, i.e. when exchanges with the open sea diminish (fig. 21a). This trend is particularly clear in Tremies Cave, where the confinement gradient is strongly marked. Besides, the Mn/Fe ratio also seems to increase when films are present in the analysed volume (some cubic micrometers) (fig. 21b). In Bagaud Cave, the Mn/Fe ratio reaches high values despite the small size of this cave and its low confinement level. Discussion and conclusions SEM observations suggest that in each studied cave, the Mn-Fe coatings are biosedimentary deposits. Genesis of these deposits is assumed to result mainly from the replacement of biofilms (composed of cells and slime, i.e, of extracellular polymeric substance produced by microorganisms) generated by microbial populations colonizing the cave walls. Considering the darkness of the cave-locations, microbes consist mainly in bacteria, but fungi are probably responsible for the filaments and ovoids corpuscules (evoking sporocysts) occurring in innermost parts. Observations at different scales of the morphological features of oxide deposits reveal a structured organisation which varies along the strong environmental gradients (particularly the confinement level) that occur from the entrance to the innermost parts : erected constructions made up of primary concretions become more and more defined and acquire a pseudo-columnar shape. The aspect of biofilms appears to be controlled by the same environmental parameters. In open or relatively open environments, they frequently show a three-dimensional development (with frequent skullcape-like shapes), while in more confined conditions they exhibit a planar layout. These changes reflect either the adaptation of the slime-producing bacteria to the local trophic resources (correlated to the rate of exchange with the open sea) and water movements, or spatial replacement of taxa. It is assumed that slime (mainly composed of water and exopolysaccharides) induces a local increase of the concentration in dissolved Mn and acts as an ion exchange resin that allows the retention of Mn on the functional groups of EPS. These conditions promote the nucleation of Mn oxide crystallites in the slime. Then. the anionic character of Mn oxides in seawater, and their capacity to catalyse the oxydation of Mn2 to Mn4, allow the process to go on without any other biological intervention; thus, the process of crystal growth becomes possible. In caves where Mn is only supplied by seawater (Tremies and 3 PP), the average value of the Mn/Fe ratio of coatings is negatively correlated to the local availability of nutrients. This trend is probably linked to changes in the selectivity of slimes towards the processes of retention of cations, because this ratio is clearly influenced by the occurrence of biofilms. However, independently from trophic resources, the Mn/Fe ratio can be notably increased when additional Mn is provided by the seeping or flowing of continental waters (Bagaud Cave)

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