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Speleology in Kazakhstan

Shakalov on 11 Jul, 2012
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 braided stream is a stream that divides into or follows an interlacing or tangled network of several small branching and reuniting shallow channels separated from each other by branch islands or channel bars, resembling in plan the strands of a complex braid [6].?

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Exploration Spotlight. This page presents the latest discoveries and achievements in the areas of Karst and Cave Research as well as Sport Caving. The underground world is last black spot on the map of the Earth and these are the latest news from there:

Close Kuzgun Cave and its Context: the first super-deep cave in the Aladaglar Massif, Turkey

Aladaglar Massif

Aladaglar is a huge limestone massif located in the Eastern Taurids Range within Adana-Kayseri-Nide provinces of Turkey. The massif covers an area of 800 km2 and the local relief extends between 400m and 3750m elevations. The associated aquifer covers an area of about 1900 km 2.

In 2001-2004 extensive field investigations of karst and caves have been carried out in Aladaglar under the joint Turkish-Ukrainian "Aladaglar Karst and Cave Research Project" (Photo 01), a part of the "Call of the Abyss Project". These studies resulted in the discovery and exploration of about 150 caves, including the remarkable 1400m-deep Kuzgun Cave, and provided new data and insight into regional karst evolution, hydrogeology and geomorphology. This article introduces a series of forthcoming publications to present these results.

Geology

The overall tectonics is determined by the nappes structure. Autochtonous carbonate formations of Jurassic and Cretaceous age crop out in the eastern part of the area. The main part of the massif is allochtonous, composed by Triassic limestones, the largest carbonate nappe units (Siyah Aladag, Beyaz Aladag and intermediate nappes). An ophiolite nappe conceals the boundary between the allochtonous and autochtonous units along the eastern side (Photo 02), although hydrochemical and isotopic studies suggest that hydrogeologic connection exists between the high-altitude recharge areas on the allochtonous carbonates and large springs outflowing from the autochtonous formation at the main erosion base level of Zamanti River and its tributaries. Further details of local geology and hydrogeology can be found in Bayari and Gurer (1993a,b) and in Tekeli, Aksay, Urgun and Isik (1983).

Geomorphology

The Aladaglar massif is elongated from north to south, being limited on the west by the regional Ecemis sinistral Fault and on the east by Zamanti River (Photo 03). The overall morphology is well illustrated by the digital elevation models (view-from-South and view-from-East) produced from the GIS "Aladaglar Karst" developed during this study. Morphologically, the northern, central and southern sectors can be distinguished, with the local relief increasing from north to south.

The high-altitude part of the Aladaglar massif has been severely glaciated during Pleistocene. Glacial landforms suggest the existence of numerous episodes of glacial advances and retreats. Cosmogenic 36Cl dating of morainic boulders in the Hacer trough valley suggests that the most recent remarkably extensive glaciation occurred between 9,500 and 7,500 years BP (Zreda et al., 2005). Glacial trough valleys and separating ridges dominate the relief of the Aladag central part. Common glacial valleys extend from source areas at 3100-3300m to altitudes of about 1900-2300m, although some large valleys (such as Hacer, Photo 04) cut as deep as up to 1100m elevation. In the valley bottoms, large and deep (up to 100m) closed glaciokarstic depressions are common, which drained sub-glacial flow into the karst system, separated by prominent glacially eroded rock hills (roches moutonnes; Photo 05, Photo 06 and Photo 07) and bars. Ridges and tops that separate glacial valleys rise up to 3400-3750m. Elongated fragments of gentle-sloping surfaces, probably the remnants of a pre-glacial levelling karst surface, can be distinguished along many ridges, at their southern flanks (Photo 07b and Photo 07c). Ridges, especially those of sub-longitudinal orientation, are asymmetric in cross-section, with steep and vertical northern faces and more gentle southern slopes.

Glacial valleys morphed during the recent glaciation had entrenched into the already intensely karstified massif. Fresh rocky surfaces of glacial scouring cut and expose numerous well-formed shafts and caves of pre-glacial generations. However, while in vertical rock faces "unwalled" shafts and passage entrances are well preserved (Photo 08 and Photo 08b), on subhorizontal surfaces large amount of rock shatter, intensely generated by strong contemporary physical weathering, plugs and conceals most of caves. In the high altitude valleys and plateau of glacial source areas, recent glacial scouring of prominent mesoforms on the one hand, and filling of negative mesoforms by weathering shatter on the other hand, makes appearance of karstified surfaces generally smoother that it can be typically seen in lower-altitude Alpine karst massifs (Photo 09, Photo 10, Photo 11 and Photo 12). Hence, karstic morphology is somewhat concealed as compared to typical Alpine karsts.

The area of the remarkable karst landscape, resembling polygonal karst, with numerous steep-walled depressions, pits and deep karrens, lies along the eastern flanks of the massif, making a ledge at elevations of 1700-2300m (Photo 13). In the north-east of Aladaglar and in its southern flank, this type of karst is immediately adjacent to the retreating cover of ophiolitic mlange (Photo 14) and Miocene conglomerates.

Hydrology

The high-altitude part of Aladaglar is assumed to be the main recharge areas of karst hydrologic systems that discharge as large springs at the foot of the massif (Photo 15, Photo 16).

Mature karst springs (Yerkpr 3, Yerkpr 1 and 2, Gksu, Kapuzbasi and Barazama) are grouped in four main localities on the eastern flank of the massif, at elevations ranging between 400 and 1100m respectively (see DEM-view-from-East and DEM-view-from-South). The combined average discharge from the massif to the eastern flank totals about 32 m 3/s, while the individual springs (groups) average discharges vary from 2,6 to 14,2 m3/s. There are also some substancial springs on the western flank of Aladaglar. Such a high degree of flow concentration, together with some peculiarities of groundwater regime and hydrogeochemistry, suggest presence of well-developed conduit systems in the depths of the massif. Structural and hydrogeochemical considerations indicate that the groundwater flow recharged from the high-altitude karst surfaces drains to the eastern flank springs (Bayari & Gurer, 1993). Recent hydrogeochemical studies during this project gave further insight into the aquifer structure and behaviour (Ozyurt, 2005).

The depth potential for a karst groundwater circulation system, the important characteristic for evaluation of the potential for a direct cave exploration, is thus well above 2000 meters, being up to 2500-2900m in the best cases. The latter figures suggest that Aladaglar may contain the deepest karst hydrologic system in the world that would supersede the currently deepest proven system Cheve in Mexico with its depth of about 2500m.