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Republished from Acta Carsologica, vol.33, n.2, 2004, 9-36. Open link

UIS KHS Commission
The troubles with cupolas

Cupolas are dome-shaped solution cavities that occur in karst caves, and have been described in both limestone and gypsum karst. While there has been considerable discussion in the literature concerning the likely origin and significance of these features, there has been little in the way of detailed description of the features themselves and little attention has been given to the definition of the term. Consequently, there are a number of troubles with cupolas: - What is a cupola? Where do cupolas occur? What are cupolas like? Do cupolas occur with particular types of speleogens? Are Cupolas features of Ceilings or features intersected by ceilings? How do cupolas form? But how can these troubles be resolved? Tentative answers are given here to many of these questions but a great deal of basic field observation and theoretical work is required to solve them. The most important step would be more field observation and measurement of cupolas and of the particular suite of speleogens that occur with them. The troubles with cupolas can be solved and in the process we will come to understand a great deal more about the unusual caves in which they occur.