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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 capillary water is 1. water held in the soil above the phreatic surface by capillary forces [22]. 2. soil water above hydroscopic moisture and below the field capacity [22].?

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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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Your search for epikarst (Keyword) returned 166 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 151 to 165 of 166
Seismic study of the low-permeability volume in southern France karst systems, 2013, Galibert P. Y. , Valois R. , Mendes M. , Gurin R.

Locating groundwater in deep-seated karst aquifers is inherently difficult. With seismic methods, we studied the upper epikarst and the underneath low-permeability volume (LPV) of several karst systems located in the southern Quercy and Larzac regions of France and found that refraction tomography was effective only in the epikarst and not in the LPV. We evaluated a 3D case study using a combination of surface records and downhole receivers to overcome this limitation. This 3D approach unveiled a set of elongated furrows at the base of the epikarst and identified heterogeneities deep inside the LPV that may represent high-permeability preferred pathways for water inside the karst. To achieve the same result when no borehole was available, we studied seismic amplitudes of the wavefield, recognizing that wave-induced fluid flow in low-permeability carbonates is a driving mechanism of seismic attenuation. We developed a workflow describing the heterogeneity of the LPV with spectral attributes derived from surface-consistent decomposition principles, and we validated its effectiveness at benchmark locations. We applied this workflow to the 3D study and found a low-amplitude signal area at depth; we interpreted this anomaly as a water-saturated body perched above the aquifer.


COVER-COLLAPSE SINKHOLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE CRETACEOUS EDWARDS LIMESTONE, CENTRAL TEXAS, 2013, Hunt B. B. , Smith B. A. , Adams M. T. , Hiers S. E. , Brown N.

Sudden cover-collapse sinkhole (doline) development is uncommon in the karstic Cretaceous-age Edwards limestone of central Texas. This paper presents a case-study of a sinkhole that formed within a stormwater retention pond (SWRP) in southwest Austin. Results presented include hydrogeologic characterizations, fate of stormwater, and mitigation of the sinkhole. On January 24, 2012, a 11 cm (4.5 in) rainfall filled the SWRP with about 3 m (10 ft) of stormwater. Subsequently, a sinkhole formed within the floor of a SWRP measuring about 9 m (30 ft) in diameter and 4 m (12 ft) deep. About 26.5 million liters (7 million gallons) of stormwater drained into the aquifer through this opening. To determine the path, velocity, and destination of stormwater entering the sinkhole a dye trace was conducted. Phloxine B was injected into the sinkhole on February 3, 2012. The dye was detected at one well and arrived at Barton Springs in less than 4 days for a minimum velocity of 2 km/day (1.3 mi/day).Review of pre-development 2-foot topographic contour and geologic maps reveals that the SWRP was built within a broad (5,200 m2; 6 acre), shallow depression bounded by two inferred NE-trending fault zones. Photographs taken during SWRP construction showed steep west-dipping bedrock in the northern SWRP wall. Following collapse of the sinkhole, additional hydrogeologic characterization included excavation to a depth of 6.4 m (21 ft), surface geophysics (resistivity), and rock coring. Geologic materials consisted mostly 89of friable, highly altered, clayey limestone consistent with epikarst in-filled with terra rosa providing a cover of the feature. Dipping beds, and fractured bedrock support proximity to the mapped fault zone. Geophysics and surface observations suggested a lateral pathway for stormwater flow at the junction between the wet pond’s impermeable geomembrane and compacted clay liner for the retention pond. The collapse appears to have been caused by stormwater down-washing poorly consolidated sediments from beneath the SWRP and into a pre-existing karst conduit system.

Mitigation of the sinkhole included backfill ranging from boulders to gravel, a geomembrane cover, and reinforced concrete cap. Additional improvements to the SWRP included a new compacted clay liner overlain by a geomembrane liner on the side slopes of the retention pond.


DELINEATION AND CLASSIFICATION OF KARST DEPRESSIONS USING LIDAR: FORT HOOD MILITARY INSTALLATION, TEXAS, 2013, Shaw Faulkner M. G. , Stafford K. W. , Bryant A. W.

The Fort Hood Military Installation is a karst landscape characterized by Cretaceous-age limestone plateaus and canyons in Bell and Coryell Counties, Texas. The area is located in the Lampasas Cut Plain region of the Edwards Plateau and is stratigraphically defined by exposures of the Fredericksburg Group. Spatial interpolation of 105 km2 of the Fort Hood Military Installation provided depression data that were delineated and classified using geoanalytical methods. Most of the karst features within the study area are predominantly surficial expressions of collapse features, creating windows into karst conduits with surficial exposures of epikarst spatially limited.The increasing capabilities of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and accuracy of geographically referenced data has provided the basis for more detailed terrain analysis and modeling. Research on terrain-related surface features is highly dependent on terrain data collection and the generation of digital models. Traditional methods such as field surveying can yield accurate results; however, they are limited by time and physical constraints. Within the study area, dense vegetation and military land use preclude extensive traditional karst survey inventories. Airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) provides an alternative for high-density and high-accuracy three-dimensional terrain point data collection. The availability of high density data makes it possible to represent terrain in great detail; however, high density data significantly increases data volume, which can impose challenges with respect to data storage, processing, and manipulation. Although LiDAR analysis can be a powerful tool, filter mechanisms must be employed to remove major natural and anthropogenic terrain modifications resulting from military use, road building and maintenance, and the natural influence of water bodies throughout the study area.


PALEOKARST SHAFTS IN THE WESTERN DESERT OF EGYPT: A UNIQUE LANDSCAPE, 2013, Mostafa, Ashraf

The Eocene limestone plateau of the western Desert of Egypt has various karst features, including shafts created during ancient wet periods. These Paleokarst shafts have been investigated on the plateau to the west of the Nile valley, specifically northwest of Assiut. Most of these shafts are infilled by conglomerate (cemented flint, red soil and limestone chips) and appear as pockets in limestone hills. The morphology of the shafts and the characteristics of their infillings suggest that they developed in vadose zone at the base of epikarst limits. This stage probably took place from the end of Early Eocene to the Middle Miocene. A later, different stage of water erosion occurred, most probably during Pliocene/Pleistocene period. This stage led to remove the epikarst zone, and reshaped the area to create a hilly landscape penetrated by infilled shafts.


Organic matter flux in the epikarst of the Dorvan karst, France, 2013, Simon, Kevin S.

Availability of organic matter plays an important role in karst ecosystems. Somewhat surprisingly, study of the composition and distribution of organic matter in karst aquifers is rare. The most comprehensive study or organic matter flux to date is a two year continuous monitoring of detritus and animal flux in epikarst drip waters and an epikarst-fed cave stream in the Dorvan karst, France. Analysis of those data reveals high temporal variation in detritus and animal flux in both habitats, but little evidence of seasonality in flux. water flux explained 30-69% of the variation in animal flux in both habitats and detritus flux in the epikarst seepage water. Detritus flux in the cave stream was better explained by peak monthly discharge. Lack of coherence between organic matter flux in epikarst seepage and the epikarst stream suggests organic matter transport is governed by differing factors in the two habitats. Overall, much of the particulate organic matter flux in the epikarst occurs as living animals suggesting a dominant role of ecological processes in organic matter transport.


Using hydrogeochemical and ecohydrologic responses to understand epikarst process in semi-arid systems, Edwards plateau, Texas, USA, 2013, Schwartz Benjamin F. , Schwinning Susanne, Gerrard Brett, Kukowski Kelly R. , Stinson Chasity L. , Dammeyer Heather C.

The epikarst is a permeable boundary between surface and subsurface environments and can be conceptualized as the vadose critical zone of epigenic karst systems which have not developed under insoluble cover. From a hydrologic perspective, this boundary is often thought of as being permeable in one direction only (down), but connectivity between the flow paths of water through the epikarst and the root systems of woody plants means that water moves both up and down across the epikarst. However, the dynamics of these flows are complex and highly dependent on variability in the spatial structure of the epikarst, vegetation characteristics, as well as temporal variability in precipitation and evaporative demand. Here we summarize insights gained from working at several sites on the Edwards Plateau of Central Texas, combining isotopic, hydrogeochemical, and ecophysiological methodologies. 1) Dense woodland vegetation at sites with thin to absent soils (0-30 cm) is in part supported by water uptake from the epikarst. 2) However, tree transpiration typically becomes water-limited in dry summers, suggesting that the plant-available fraction of stored water in the epikarst depletes quickly, even when sustained cave drip rates indicate that water is still present in the epikarst. 3) Flow paths for water that feeds cave drips become rapidly disconnected from the evaporation zone of the epikarst and out of reach for plant roots. 4) Deep infiltration and recharge does not occur in these systems without heavy or continuous precipitation that exceeds some threshold value. Thresholds are strongly correlated with antecedent potential evapotranspiration and rainfall, suggesting control by the moisture status of the epikarst evapotranspiration zone. The epikarst and unsaturated zone in this region can be conceptualized as a variably saturated system with storage in fractures, matrix porosity, and in shallow perched aquifers, most of which is inaccessible to the root systems of trees, although woody vegetation may control recharge thresholds.


Physical Structure of the Epikarst, 2013, Jones, William K.

Epikarst is a weathered zone of enhanced porosity on or near the surface or at the soil/bedrock contact of many karst landscapes. The epikarst is essentially the upper boundary of a karst system but is also a reaction chamber where many organics accumulate and react with the percolating water. The epikarst stores and directs percolating recharge waters to the underlying karst aquifers. Epikarst permeability decreases with depth below the surface. The epikarst may function as a perched aquifer with a saturated zone that transmits water laterally for some distance until it drains slowly through fractures or rapidly at shaft drains or dolines. Stress-release and physical weathering as well as chemical dissolution play a role in epikarst development. Epikarst may be found on freshly exposed carbonates although epikarst that develops below a soil cover should form at a faster rate due to increased carbon dioxide produced by vegetation. The accumulation of soil within the fractures may create plugs that retard the downward movement of percolating water and creates a reservoir rich in organic material. The thickness of the epikarst zone typically ranges from a few meters to 15 meters, but vertical weathering of joints may be much deeper and lead to a “stone forest” type of landscape. Some dolines are hydrologically connected directly to the epikarst while other dolines may drain more directly to the deeper conduit aquifer and represent a “hole” in the epikarst. water stored in the epikarst may be lost to evapotranspiration, move rapidly down vertical shafts or larger joints, or drain out slowly through the soil infillings and small fractures. Much of the water pushed from the epikarst during storms is older water from storage that is displaced by the new event water.


Temporal variability of karst aquifer response time established by the sliding-windows cross-correlation method, 2013, Delbarta Célestine, Valdesd Danièle, Barbecotg Florent, Tognellia Antoine, Richona Patrick, Couchouxh Laurent

We study the temporal variability of water transfer through the infiltration zone of a karst aquifer by estimating the impulse response of the system using cross-correlogram analyses between rainfall and piezometric level time series. We apply a sliding-window cross-correlation method, which calculates cross-correlograms on partially superposed short time series windows. We apply this method for rainfall and piezometric level time series at six boreholes in a fractured karstic aquifer located in Burgundy, France. Based on cross-correlogram functions, we obtain a time series of response time. At most of the boreholes, the cross-correlation functions change over time, and the response times vary seasonally, being shorter during the summer. This unusual structure can be partly explained by the seasonal variability in rainfall intensity, which is higher during the summer (May–September), inducing the seasonal behaviour of the epikarst. During the summer, when rainfall intensity is higher, the epikarst is more easily and quickly saturated. This induces an increase in lateral water transfer within the epikarst and an increase in concentrated fast flows. We also show that the response time seems to tend towards a limit which represents the maximum saturation of the epikarst.


Characterisation and modelling of conduit restricted karst aquifers – Example of the Auja spring, Jordan Valley, 2014, Schmidta Sebastian, Geyera Tobias, Guttmanb Joseph, Mareic Amer, Riesd Fabian, Sauter Martin

The conduit system of mature karstified carbonate aquifers is typically characterised by a high hydraulic conductivity and does not impose a major flow constriction on catchment discharge. As a result, discharge at karst springs is usually flashy and displays pronounced peaks following recharge events. In contrast, some karst springs reported in literature display a discharge maximum, attributed to reaching the finite discharge capacity of the conduit system (flow threshold). This phenomenon also often leads to a non-standard recession behaviour, a so called “convex recession”, i.e. an increase in the recession coefficient during flow recession, which in turn might be used as an indicator for conduit restricted aquifers. The main objective of the study is the characterisation and modelling of those hydrogeologically challenging aquifers. The applied approach consists of a combination of hydrometric monitoring, a spring hydrograph recession and event analysis, as well as the setup and calibration of a non-linear reservoir model. It is demonstrated for the Auja spring, the largest freshwater spring in the Lower Jordan Valley. The semi-arid environment with its short but intensive precipitation events and an extended dry season leads to sharp input signals and undisturbed recession periods. The spring displays complex recession behaviour, exhibiting exponential (coefficient α) and linear (coefficient β) recession periods. Numerous different recession coefficients α were observed: ∼0.2 to 0.8 d−1 (presumably main conduit system), 0.004 d−1 (fractured matrix), 0.0009 d−1 (plateau caused by flow threshold being exceeded), plus many intermediate values. The reasons for this observed behaviour are the outflow threshold at 0.47 m3 s−1 and a variable conduit–matrix cross-flow in the aquifer. Despite system complexity, and hence the necessity of incorporating features such as a flow threshold, conduit–matrix cross-flow, and a spatially variable soil/epikarst field capacity, the developed reservoir model is regarded as relatively simplistic. As a number of required parameters were calculated from the hydrogeological analysis of the system, it requires only six calibration parameters and performs well for the highly variable flow conditions observed. Calculated groundwater recharge in this semi-arid environment displays high interannual variability. For example, during the 45-year simulation period, only five wet winter seasons account for 33% of the total cumulative groundwater recharge.


Transferring the concept of minimum energy dissipation from river networks to subsurface flow patterns, 2014, Hergarte Stefan, Winkler Gerfried, Birk Steffen

Principles of optimality provide an interesting alternative to modeling hydrological processes in detail on small scales and have received growing interest in the last years. Inspired by the more than 20 years old concept of minimum energy dissipation in river networks, we present a corresponding theory for subsurface flow in order to obtain a better understanding of preferential flow patterns in the subsurface. The concept describes flow patterns which are optimal in the sense of minimizing the total energy dissipation at a given recharge under the constraint of a given total porosity. Results are illustrated using two examples: two-dimensional flow towards a spring with a radial symmetric distribution of the porosity and dendritic flow patterns. The latter are found to be similar to river networks in their structure and, as a main result, the model predicts a power-law distribution of the spring discharges. In combination with two data sets from the Austrian Alps, this result is used for validating the model. Both data sets reveal power-law-distributed spring discharges with similar scaling exponents. These are, however, slightly larger than the exponent predicted by the model. As a further result, the distributions of the residence times strongly differ between homogeneous porous media and optimized flow patterns, while the mean residence times are similar in both cases.


Clay cortex in epikarst forms as an indicator of age and morphogenesis—case studies from Lublin–Volhynia chalkland (East Poland,West Ukraine), 2014,

Clay cortex from the contact zone between the host rock (chalk) and infilling deposits were examined in

paleokarst forms (pockets, pipes, and dolines of different age) from the Lublin–Volhynia chalk karst region. In light of the sedimentological and micromorphological analyses, it seems possible to work out a model as the basis for genetic and stratigraphic discussions. (1) Dolineswith the Paleogene orNeogene mineral infills are characterized by (a) homogeneous, residual type of massive clay gradually passing into the chalkmonolith, and at the sametime(b) relatively thickweathered zone. (2) Pipeswith glacigenic mineral infill fromthe Saalian Glacial are characterized by (a) sharp contact between host rock and clay, (b) narrow weathering zone of chalk, (c) diffuse nature of the contact zone between residual clay and mineral infill, and (d) contamination of clay by clastic material. (3) Pocketswith glacigenic mineral infill and traces of theWeichselian periglacial transformation are characterized by (a) strong contamination of chalk by quartz grains, (b) diffuse transition between clay and infill: fromclayey matrixwith single quartz grains (at the contactwith chalk) to clayey coatings and intergranular bridges (in the infill), (c) intensive weathering (cracking) of mineral grains in the infill.


Hydrogeological Characteristics of Carbonate Formations of the Cuddapah Basin, India, 2014, Farooq Ahmad Dar

Karst hydrogeology is an important field of earth sciences as the aquifers in carbonate formations represent vital resource of groundwater that feeds a large part of the world population particularly in semi-arid climates. These unique aquifers posses peculiar characteristics developed by dissolutional activities of water. Karst aquifers possess a typical hydrogeological setup from surface to subsurface. The aquifers are governed by slow groundwater flow in matrix porosity, a medium to fast flow in fractures and rapid flow in conduits and channels. This large variability in their properties makes the prediction and modeling of flow and transport very cumbersome and data demanding. The aquifers are vulnerable to contamination as the pollutants reach the aquifer very fast with little or no attenuation. The geomorphological and hydrogeological properties in these aquifers demand specific techniques for their study. The carbonate aquifers of the semi-arid Cuddapah basin were characterized based on geomorphological, hydrogeological and hydrochemical investigations. All the formations are highly karstified possessing one of the longest and deepest caves of India and few springs along with unique surface features. Karstification is still in progress but at deeper levels indicated by growing speleothems of different architectural size. Model of karstification indicates that lowering of base level of erosion resulted in the dissolution of deeper parts of the limestone as represented by paleo-phreatic conduits in the region. Moist conditions of the past were responsible for the karst development which has been minimized due to the onset of monsoon conditions. Karst has developed at various elevations representing the past base levels in the region.

The recharge processes in these aquifers are complex due to climatic and karst specificities. Point recharge is the major contributor which enters the aquifer as allogenic water. It replenishes the groundwater very rapidly. Diffuse recharge travels through soil and epikarst zone. Average annual recharge of semi-arid Narji limestone aquifer is 29% of the rainfall which occurs during 5-7 rain events in the year.

The hydrogeochemical characteristic of karst aquifers is quite varaible. A significant difference is observed in hydrochemistry. High concentrations of SO42-, Cl-, NO3- suggests the anthropogenic source particularly from agriculture. Local Meteoric Water Line of δ2H and δ18O isotopes of rain and groundwater shows a slope of 7.02. Groundwater isotope data shows more depletion in heavy isotopes -a result of high evaporation of the area. Groundwater samples show a trend with a slope of 4 and 3.1 for δ2H and δ18O respectively. Groundwater during dry months gets more fractionated due to higher temperature and little rainfall. The irrigated water becomes more enriched and then recharges the aquifer as depleted irrigation return flow. The isotopes show large variation in spring water. Few springs are diffuse or mixed type and not purely of conduit type in the area. Tracer results indicate that the tracer output at the sampling location depends on the hydrogeological setup and the nature of karstification.

The study has significantly dealt with in disclosing the typical characteristics of such aquifer systems and bringing out a reliable as well as detailed assessment of various recharges to the system. The groundwater chemistry has been elaborated to establish the nature of possible hydrochemical processes responsible for water chemistry variation in semi-arid karst aquifer. Such study has thrown light on the aquifers that are on one hand very important from social and strategic point of view and on the hand were left unattended from the detailed scientific studies.


Inland notches: Implications for subaerial formation of karstic landforms —An example from the carbonate slopes of Mt. Carmel, Israel, 2015,

Inland notches are defined herein as horizontal “C”-shaped indentations, developed on the carbonate slopes or cliffs in the Mediterranean to semi-arid zones. The notches are shaped like half tubes that extend over tens or hundreds of meters along the stream valley slopes. In Mt. Carmel, a series of 127 notches have been mapped. On average, their height and width are 2–2.5mbut they can reach 6min height and 9.5min width. The geomorphic processes that create a notch combine chemical,mechanical, and biogenicweathering,which act together to generate initial dissolution and later flakeweathering (exfoliation) of the bed, forming the notch cavity.We propose an epikarstic-subaerial mechanism for the formation and evolution of the notches. The notches are unique landforms originating fromthe dissolution and disintegration of the rock under subaerial conditions, by differentialweathering of beds with different petrographic properties. The notches follow specific beds that enable their formation and are destroyed by the collapse of the upper bed. The formation and destruction alternate in cyclical episodes and therefore, the notches are local phenomena that vary over time and space


CO2 emission response to different water conditions under simulated karst environment, 2015,

Habitat degradation has been proven to result associated with drought in karst region in south China. However, how this drought condition relates to CO2 efflux is not clear. In this study, we designed a simulated epikarst water–rock (limestone)–soil–plant columns, under varying water levels (treatment), and monitored CO2 concentration and efflux in soil in different seasons during 2011. The results showed that increased soil water greatly enhanced CO2 concentrations. With which treatment with epikarst water (WEW) had higher CO2 concentration than without epikarst water (WOEW). This was particularly high in low soil water treatment and during high temperature in the summer season. Under 30–40 % relative soil water content (RSWC), CO2 concentration in WEW treatment was 1.44 times of WOEW; however, under 90–100 % RSWC, this value was smaller. Comparatively, soil surface CO2 efflux (soil respiration) was 1.29–1.94 lmol m-2 s-1 in WEW and 1.35–2.04 lmol m-2 s-1 in WOEW treatment, respectively. CO2 efflux increased with increasing RSWC, but it was not as sensitive to epikarst water supply as CO2 concentration. WEW tended to weakly influence CO2 efflux under very dry or very wet soil condition and under low temperature. High CO2 efflux in WEW occurred under 50–80 % RSWC during summer. Both CO2 concentrations and CO2 efflux were very sensitive to temperature increase. As a result, at degraded karst environment, increased temperature may enhance CO2 concentration and CO2 emission; meanwhile, the loss of epikarst and soil water deficiency may decrease soil CO2 concentration and CO2 emission, which in turn may decrease karst corrosion.


Bullita cave system, Judbarra / Gregory Karst, tropical Australia, 2016,

In the monsoon tropics of northern Australia, Bullita Cave is the largest (123 km) of a group of extensive, horizontal, joint-controlled, dense network maze caves which are epikarst systems lying at shallow depth beneath a well-developed karrenfield. The Judbarra / Gregory Karst and its caves are restricted to the outcrop belt of the thin, sub-horizontal, Proterozoic Supplejack Dolostone. Karst is further restricted to those parts of the Supplejack that have escaped a secondary dolomitisation event. The karrenfield and underlying cave system are intimately related and have developed in step as the Supplejack surface was exposed by slope retreat. Both show a lateral zonation of development grading from youth to old age. Small cave passages originate under the recently exposed surface, and the older passages at the trailing edge become unroofed or destroyed as the, by then deeply-incised, karrenfield breaks up into isolated ruiniform blocks and pinnacles. Vertical development of the cave has been generally restricted to the epikarst zone by a 3m bed of impermeable and incompetent shale beneath the Supplejack which first perched the water-table, forming incipient phreatic passages above it, and later was eroded by vadose flow to form an extensive horizontal system of passages 10-20m below the karren surface. Some lower cave levels in underlying dolostone occur adjacent to recently incised surface gorges. Speleogenesis is also influenced by the rapid, diffuse, vertical inflow of storm water through the karrenfield, and by ponding of the still-aggressive water within the cave during the wet season – dammed up by “levees” of sediment that accumulate beneath the degraded trailing edge of the karrenfield. The soil, and much biological activity, is not at the bare karren surface, but down on the cave floors, which aids epikarstic solution at depth rather than on the surface.


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