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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 air separating tank is a tank in which desorbed gases are separated from a liquid and evacuated by pumping [16].?

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Featured articles from Cave & Karst Science Journals
Chemistry and Karst, White, William B.
See all featured articles
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 sicily (Keyword) returned 20 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 1 to 15 of 20
Les karsts de gypse italiens ( propos du Symposium inter-national sur les karsts des vaporites), 1986, Choppy, J.
ITALIAN GYPSUM KARSTS - Synthesis of field observations and bibliographic data on shallow and deep gypsum karsts in Italy; these karsts are located in Trias (Emily) and in Messinian (continental Italy, especially near Bologna, and Sicily). The author describes clints of Sicily, the features of erosion and filling in underground caves.

Lithobius nuragicus n.sp., a new Lithobius from a Sardinian cave (Chilopoda, Lithobiomorpha)., 1996, Zapparoli Marzio
A new species of Lithobius from a Sardinian cave (Cagliari, Santadi, loc. Su Benatzu, Grotta "Pirosu", 576 Sa/Ca, m 270) is described. Lithobius nuragicus n. sp. belongs to the subgenus Lithobius s. str. and is related to Lithobius variegatus Leach, 1814, occurring in the British Isles, Brittany, Channel Isles, Iberian Peninsula, Maghreb, Sicily and Southern Italy. This new species is differentiated from L. variegatus by the number of prosternal teeth (3+3), the number and arrangement of ocelli (1+3; little, depigmented, not contiguous to each other, in the center of a depigmented area, posterosuperior ocellus larger than the other ocelli), the size of the organ of Tmsvry (larger), the number of antennal articles (79-86), the number of dorso-lateral and dorso-median setae and the shape and size of the claw of the female gonopods (4-5; 10-11; short, with a small lateral denticle on the internal side).

The 1981 eruptive fissure on Mt. Etna: considerations on its exploration and genesis., 1998, Leotta Angelo, Liuzzo Marco
This paper is targeted to an analysis of features common to various fissure caves on Mt. Etna, Sicily. The Authors report the preliminary results of the exploration carried out in the 1981 eruptive fissure, the technical problems met during the exploration, the flow trends and the different courses of the molten material inside the fissure, the particular morphologies. A genetic model is proposed, different from those characterising the lava tube cave genesis, and links are suggested between the various fissures and the main tectonic stress systems operating on Mt. Etna, as well as the morpho-structural conditions of the volcanic edifice of Mt. Etna.

The regional park of the Nebrodi Mts. (Sicily): a contribution to an integrated groundwater management, 1998, Cimino A, Abbate R, Martorana Tusa A,

Contribution to knowledge of gypsum karstology, PhD thesis, 1998, Calaforra Chordi, J. M.

The objective of this study was not to establish a definitive judgement regarding a topic for which very little previous information was available, but rather to open new routes for research into karst by means of a particularized analysis of some of the factors involved in the speleogenesis of gypsiferous materials. The main obstacle to the attainment of this goal has been the scientific community's lack of interest in karst in gypsum, particularly in our country, until the nineteen eighties. To overcome this neglect it was decided, in my opinion quite correctly, to extend the bounds of the study as far as possible, so that the information obtained from the contrast found between the most important worldwide zones of karst in gypsum could be applied to the gypsiferous karst in our country, and in particular, to the most significant, the karst in gypsum of Sorbas.
This is the justification for the numerous references in the text to the gypsiferous karst and cavities in gypsum that are most relevant in Spain (Sorbas, Gobantes, Vallada, Archidona, Estremera, Baena, the Ebro Basin, Estella, Beuda, Borreda, etc.) and also to the best-known gypsiferous karsts worldwide (Podolia, Secchia, Venna del Gesso Romagnolo, Sicily and New Mexico). By means of these comparisons, the initial lack of information has been overcome.
The study is based on three central tenets, which are interrelated and make up the first three chapters of this report. The first consideration was to attempt to characterize the particular typology of gypsiferous karst from the geological (both stratigraphic and structural) point of view. This chapter also provides an introduction to each of the gypsiferous karsts examined. The second chapter is dedicated to the geomorphology of gypsiferous karst, under both superficial and subterranean aspects. It is important to note that the study of a gypsiferous karst from the speleological point of view is something that may seem somewhat unusual; however, this is one of the points of principle of this paper, the attempt to recover the true meaning of a word that has historically been unfairly condemned by a large part of the Spanish scientific community. Thirdly, a detailed study has been made of the hydrochemistry of the most important gypsiferous karsts in our region, together with the presentation of a specific analytical methodology for the treatment of the hydrochemical data applicable to the gypsiferous karst.
Geological characterization of gypsum karst
In the characterization of karst in gypsum, the intention was to cover virtually all the possibilities from the stratigraphic and structural standpoints. Thus, there is a description of widely varying gypsiferous karsts, made up of Triassic to Miocene materials, some with a complex tectonic configuration and others hardly affected by folding. The gypsiferous karsts described, and their most significant geological characteristics, are as follows:
Karst in gypsum at Sorbas (Almeria): composed of Miocene gypsiferous levels with the essential characteristic of very continuous marly interstrata between the layers of gypsum, which decisively affect the speleogenesis of the area. The gypsum layers have an average thickness of about 10 m and, together with the fracturing in the zone, determine the development of the gypsiferous cavities. These are mainly selenitic gypsum - occasionally with a crystal size of over 2 m - and their texture also has a geomorphologic and hydrogeologic influence. This area is little affected by folding and so the tectonic influence of speleogenesis is reduced to the configuration of the fracturing.
The Triassic of Antequera (Malaga): this is, fundamentally, the gypsiferous outcrop at Gobantes-Meliones, originating in the Triassic and located within the well-known "Trias" of Antequera. It is made up of very chaotic gypsiferous materials containing a large quantity of heterometric blocks of varied composition; the formation may be defined as a Miocene olitostromic gypsiferous breccia that is affected by important diapiric phenomena. The presence of hypersoluble salts at depth is significant in the modification of the hydrochemical characteristics of the water and in the speleogenetic development of the karst.
The Triassic of Vallada (Valencia): Triassic materials outcrop in the Vallada area; these mainly correspond to the K5 and K4 formations of the Valencia Group, massive gypsum and gypsiferous clays. The influence of dolomitic intercalations in the sequence is crucial to the speleogenesis of the area and this, together with intense tectonic activity, has led to the development in this sector of the deepest gypsiferous cavity in the world: the "Tunel dels Sumidors". As in the above case, the presence of hypersoluble salts at depth and the varied lithology influence the variations in the hydrodynamics and hydrochemistry of the gypsiferous aquifer.
Other Spanish gypsum karsts: this heading covers a group of gypsiferous areas and cavities of significant interest from the speleogenetic standpoint. They include the area of Estremera (Madrid), with Miocene gypsiferous clays and massive gypsum arranged along a large horizontal layer; this has produced the development of the only gypsiferous cavity in Spain with maze configuration, the Pedro Fernandez cave. The study of this cave has important hydrogeological implications with respect to speleogenesis in gypsum in phreatic conditions. The Baena (Cordoba) sector, in terms of its lithology, is comparable to the "Trias de Antequera". Here, the cavities developed in gypsiferous conglomerates, following structural discontinuities have enabled contact between carbonate and gypsiferous levels, and so we may speak of a mixed karstification: a karst in calcareous rocks and gypsum. The karst of Archidona (Malaga) is similar to that of the Gobantes-Meliones group and is significant because of the geomorphologic evolution of the karst, which is related to the diapiric ascent of the area and the formation of karstic ravines. The karst in the Miocene and Oligocene gypsum of the Ebro Basin (Zaragoza), has been taken as a characteristic example of a gypsiferous karst developed under an alluvial cover, with the corresponding geomorphological implications in the evolution of the surface landforms. In the gypsiferous area of Borreda (Barcelona), the presence of anhydritic levels in the sequence might have influenced the speleogenesis of its cavities. The cavity of La Mosquera, in Beuda (Girona), developed in massive Paleogene gypsum. This is the only Spanish example of a phreatic gypsiferous cavity developed in saccaroid gypsum, which is related to the particular subterranean morphology discovered. Finally, this group includes other Spanish gypsiferous outcrops visited during the preparation of this report, the references to which may be found in the relevant chapters.
Karst in gypsum in Europe and America: In order to complete the study of karst in gypsum, and with the idea of using all the available data on the karstology of gypsiferous materials for comparative studies of data for our country, a complementary activity was to define the most significant geological characteristics of the most important gypsiferous karsts in the world. An outstanding example is the gypsiferous karst at Podolia (Ukraine), developed in microcrystalline Miocene gypsum which has undergone block tectonics related to the collapse of the Precarpatic foredeep. This gypsum provides interesting data on speleogenesis in gypsiferous materials, as its evolution is related to the confining of the only gypsiferous stratum (of 10 to 20 m depth) producing interconnected labyrinthine galleries of over 100 km in length. Another well-known karst in gypsum is the one located at "Venna del Gesso Romagnolo" (Italy), in the Bologna region, with a lithology that is very similar to that which developed at Sorbas, but with the difference that it underwent more intense tectonics with folding and fracturing of the Tertiary sediments of the Po basin. In the same Italian province, in "L'alta Val di Sec-chia", there are outcrops of karstified Triassic materials which correspond to the formation of Burano, composed of gypsum and anhydrite with hypersoluble salts at depth and very notable diapiric phenomena. The study of this area has been used for a comparative analysis - geomorphology and hydrogeochemistry - with the Spanish gypsiferous karsts developed in Triassic levels. The third Italian gypsiferous karst to be considered is the one developed in Sicily, which has extensive Messinian outcrops of microcrystalline and selenitic gypsum as well as a great variety of lithologic types within the gypsiferous sequence, which we term the "gessoso solfifera" sequence. This gypsiferous karst is especially interesting from the geomorphologic standpoint due to the great quantity and variety of present superficial karstic forms. This has also served as a guide for the study of Spanish gypsiferous karsts. Finally, considering the relation between climatology and the development of karstic forms, we have also studied the karst in gypsum in New Mexico, where there is an extensive outcrop of Permian gypsum, both micro and macrocrystalline, situated on a large platform almost unaffected by deformation, and where the conditions of aridity are very similar to those found in the gypsiferous karst of Sorbas.
Geomorphological characterization of gypsum karst
From the geomorphological standpoint, the intention is to give an overview of the great variety of karstic forms developed in gypsum, traditionally considered less important than those developed in carbonate areas. This report shows this is not the case.
The theory of Convergence of Forms has been shown to be an efficient tool for the study of the morphology of karst in gypsum. Here, its principles have been used to provide genetic explanations for various gypsiferous forms derived from carbonate studies, and for the reverse case. In fact, studying a karst in gypsum is like having available a geomorphological laboratory where not only are the processes faster but they are also applicable to the karstology of carbonate rocks.
A large number of minor karstic forms (Karren) have been identified. The most important factors conditioning their formation are the texture of the rock, climatology and the presence of overlying deposits. The first, particularly, is largely responsible for determining the abundance of certain forms with respect to others. Thus, Rillenkarren, Trittkarren and small "kamenitzas" are more frequently found in microcrystalline and sandstone gypsum (for example, karst in gypsum in Sicily (Italy) and Va-llada (Valencia, Spain). Others seem to be more exclusive to selenitic gypsum, such as exfoliation microkarren, or are closely related to the climatology of the area (Spitzkarren develops from the alteration of gypsum in semiarid conditions). Others are related either to the presence of developed soil cover (Rundkarren, using Convergence of Forms), or to their specific situation (candelas and Wallkarren around dolines and sinkholes) or to the microtexture of the gypsum and the orientation of the 010 and 111 crystalline planes and twinning planes for the development of nanokarren.
The tumuli are the most peculiar forms of the Sorbas karst in gypsum, though they have also been identified in other gypsiferous karsts (Bolonia, New Mexico, Vallada, etc.). These are subcircular domes of the most superficial layer of the gypsum. Their formation has been related to processes of precipitation-solution and of capillary movement through the gypsiferous matrix. Their extensive development is largely determined by the climatology of the area and by the structural organization. It is therefore clear that the best examples are found in the karst of Sorbas due to the abrupt changes in temperature and humidity that occur in a semiarid climate, and because of the horizontality of the gypsiferous sequence.
Karst in gypsum and its larger exokarstic forms, apart from being climatically determined, also depend on the structural state and lithological determinants of the area. Thus, it is possible to differentiate between gypsiferous karsts where the lithology, together with erosive breakup, is more important (Sorbas and New Mexico) and others where confining hydraulic conditions persist (Estremera and Podolia). In other cases, tectonics has played a significant modelling role, and there is a clear possibility of an inversion of the relief (Bolonia or Sicily) or of the effect of diapiric processes (Secchia, Vallada, Antequera). The typological diversity of the dolines is obviously also related to these premisses. Another example is the relation existing between carbonate precipitation and gypsum solution, as evidenced in contrasting examples (Bolonia versus Sorbas).
Subterranean karstic forms have been examined from a double perspective: the morphology of the passages and the mineralization within the cavities. With respect to the former, a noteworthy example is the interstratification karst of Sorbas, where subterranean channels have developed during two well-differentiated phases, the phreatic and the vadose. The first was responsible for the formation of the small proto-galleries, currently relicts that are observable as false dome channels in the bottom of the gypsiferous strata. The second, with an erosive character, enabled the breakup of the marly interstrata and the formation of the large galleries found today. Other aspects considered include the speleogenetic influence of the presence of calcareous intercalations in the gypsiferous sequence (Vallada karst), gypsiferous agglomerates (Baena karst), anhydrite (Rotgers karst), suffusion processes (Sorbas karst) and the importance of condensation.
Spelothemes in gypsiferous cavities have been approached with special concern for gypsiferous speleothemes, in particular those which, due to their genetic peculiarity or to the lack of previous knowledge about them, are most significant. Among these are gypsum balls, with phenomena of solution, detritic filling, capillarity and evaporation; gypsum hole stalagmites, where the precipitation-solution of the gypsum controlling the formation of the central orifice is related to the previous deposit of carbonate speleothemes; gypsum trays that mark the levels of maximum evaporation; gypsum dust, determined by abrupt changes in temperature and humidity in areas near the exterior of gypsiferous cavities. All of these are characteristic of, and practically exclusive to, gypsiferous karsts in semiarid ztenes such as Sorbas and New Mexico.
Karst in gypsum has been morphologically classified with reference to the previously-mentioned criteria: the presence and typology of epigean karstic forms, both macro and microform; the typology of hypogean karstic forms (passages) and the type of speleothemes within the cavities (gypsiferous or carbonate). All these variables are clearly influenced by climatology, and so a study of the geomorphology of gypsiferous karst is seen to be an efficient tool for the analysis of the paleoclimatology of an area.
Hydrogeochemical characterization of gypsum karst
The hydrogeochemical characterization of karst in gypsum was approached in two stages. The first one was intended to establish themodels to be applied to the hydrochemistry approach, while the second provided various examples of hydrochemical studies carried out in gypsiferous karsts.
The theoretical framework which has been shown to be most accurate with respect to the formulation of chemical equilibria in water related to gypsiferous karst is the Virial Theory and the Pitzer equations.
For this study, we used a simplification of these equations as far as the second virial coefficient by means of a simple, polynomial variation to obtain the equilibrium state of the water with respect to the gypsum, for an ionic strength value greater than 0.1 m and temperatures of between 0.5 and 40 "C. This was the case of the gypsiferous karsts found to be related to hypersaline water at depth (Vallada, Gobantes-Meliones, Poiano). In the remaining situations, where the ionic strength was below 0.1 m, only the theory of ionic matching was used.
The hydrochemical study of the gypsiferous karst of Gobantes-Meliones (Malaga) led to the hypothesis of the possible influence of hypersaline water on karstification in gypsum. Using theoretical examples of the mixing of water derived both from hypersaline water and from water related only to the gypsiferous karst, it was shown that above a percentage content of 0.1:0.9 of saline and sulphated water, the mixture is subsaturated with respect to gypsum and other minerals. On reaching percentages greater than 0.5:0.5, values of oversaturation are again found. This could mean that the contact between sulphated and hypersaline water is a karstification zone in gypsum at depth.
In the gypsiferous karst at Salinas-Fuente Camacho (Granada), a study has been made of the hydrochemical influence of dolomitic levels in the sequence by means of the analysis of the hydrochemical routes between hydraulically-connected points. The generic case of mass transfer in this gypsiferous aquifer implies a precipitation of calcite which is in-congruent with dolomitic solution, proving that the process of dedolomitization in gypsiferous aquifers with an abundance of dolomitic rocks can be an effective process. In situations of high salinity, with contributions of hypersaline water, the process may be inverted, such as occurs in coastal carbonate aquifers influenced by the fresh-saltwater interface.
The gypsiferous aquifer of Sorbas-Tabernas (Almeria) provides the best case of karstification in gypsum in Spain; the hydrochemical study carried out has been used as an example of karstification in gypsum completely uninfluenced by sodium-chloride facies. It is shown, from the hydrochemical similarities between the different sectors, that the uniformity of the flow from the system main spring (Los Molinos) responds to the delayed hydraulic input through the overlying post-evaporitic materials and to the pelitic intercalations of the gypsiferous sequence. The aquifer is partially semiconfined, a situation which is comparable to the onset of the karstification stage, while the area of the Sorbas karst, strictly speaking, bears no hydriaulic relation to the rest of the system, behaving like a free aquifer intrinsically related to the epikarstic zone. This fact is demonstrated by the hydrochemical differences between the main spring and those related to gypsiferous cavities.
Apart from the general study of the Sorbas-Tabemas aquifer, a study was also made of the hydrochemical-time variations within cavities, and in particular within the Cueva del Agua, where it is possible to observe particular processes affecting karstification in gypsum, such as the precipitation of carbonates on the floor of the cavity which produce, in that area, a greater solution of gypsum (the phenomenon of hyperkarstification). Furthermore, the temporal evolution of the chemistry of the cavity, along 800 m of subterranean flow through its interior, shows the existence of inertial sectors where the variations were less abrupt. Only in the case of particular sectors, related to sporadic hydriaulic contributions or to the proximity to points of access., was a notable seasonal influence detected.
A similar hydrochemical study was carried out in the karst of Vallada (Valencia), along the cavity of the Tunel dels Sumidors. The chemistry here was compared with that of the springs of Brolladors (whose water rapidly infiltrates into the cavity) and Saraella (a saline resurgence of the whole system). Unexpected increases in the ionic content of certain salts (sulphates and chlorides) were detected during periods of increased flow; these were interpreted as the effect of the recharging of the Saraella spring arising from the immediate contribution of rapidly circulating sulfated water coming from the cavity and the subsequent mobilization of interstitial water with an ionic content higher than the characteristic level of the spring.
We present as a hypothesis the idea that, in addition to the hydrogeochemical processes described that can affect the evolution of a gypsiferous karst, the processes of sulphate reduction also influence karstification in gypsum, at least during the earliest stages. Some examples such as the presence of gypsum with abundant organic matter reprecipitated into phreatic channels (Sorbas) or veins of sulphur related to gypsiferous karsts (Podolia, Sicily) lend support to this idea.
Studies of the solution-erosion of gypsum have been performed by physical methods (tablets and M.E.M.) showing that the solution-erosion of gypsum within cavities is minimal (0.03 mm/ year) compared to that existing in the exterior (0.3 mm/year). The speleogenetic effect of condensation within the cavities has also been shown, with solution-erosion rates of 0.005 mm/year to be like the equivalent surface lowering. These data correspond to the karst in gypsum at Sorbas, where, additionally, a study about the time variation of the solution-erosion was carried out. It was found that the process is not continuous but clearly sporadic. During periods of torrential rain, the solution-erosion ranges from a weight loss of 400 mg/cm2/year on the surface of the karst to 75 mg/cm2/year inside the caves, while during the rest of the year the weight loss was barely 1 mg/cm2/year. The physical methods were compared with the results obtained from chemical methods, and it was found that, in general, higher values were obtained with the former (10-20% higher when weighted for the rainfall during the measuring periods). Thus it is reasonable to consider that the erosive process is more marked than was at first assumed.
In total, three cavity tracing experiments were carried out, all with fluoresceine, two of them in Cueva del Agua in Sorbas (during periods of high and low water levels) and the other in Tunel dels Sumidors in Vallada. At the first site, the comparison of the two tracing tests reveals a differential hydrodynamic behaviour of the cavity for the two contrasting situations; periods of high water input and periods of low rainfall. This behaviour is characteristic of well developed karstic aquifers, where the hydrodynamic effect of the circulation of water through small channels or, in this case, through the gypsiferous matrix and interbedded marly layers, seems to be more important under conditions of low hydraulic input than when rainfall is abundant. The two situations tested seem to confirm that the Cueva del Agua system, an epikarstic aquifer, which is representative of karstification in gypsum, has scarce retentive power and so large volumes of precipitation are totally discharged via the spring within a few days. However, the explanation of the small but continuous flow from the base of the cavity requires the inclusion of other factors in the interpretation. In this case, the flow seems to be fairly independent of rainfall and attributable to other processes, in addition to the previously described ones, such as the retentive power of the gypsiferous matrix and the marly interstrata. These might include the high degree of condensation measured over long periods, both on the surface of the karst in gypsum and within the cavities. In the case of the Tunel dels Sumidors, a highly irregular response was found, despite the fact that the coefficient of dispersivity was found to be 0.4. This value is similar to that obtained for the karst in gypsum at Sorbas in response to low water conditions, and so, here too, one might assume the influence of greater than expected flow-retaining processes, between the entry and exit points. Doubtless the karstic system of the Tunel dels Sumidors is more complex than was initially expected and in fact, the irregularity reflected by the fluoresceine concentration curve over time implies the existence of other factors to explain the diversity of the relative maxima obtained. Firstly, the presence of numerous Triassic clay intercalations might delay the flow, in addition to retaining a certain quantity of fluoresceine by ionic exchange. There is also a possibility that the flow is dispersed through a network of small conduits and pores, due to the permeability of the gypsiferous matrix. Finally, we cannot discount the possible existence of a deep-level input which, in this case, would be responsible for the variation in the flow and the chemical composition. This set of suppositions, as a whole, would explain the fact that the response of the spring to tracing is so irregular, even though we cannot achieve a definition of the qualitative influence of each one on the hydrodynamics of the system.
In order to verify some of the above hypotheses, particularly those referring to the process of condensation within cavities, an experiment was designed, consisting of a microtracing test at some points where condensation had been detected within the Cueva del Agua at Sorbas. The test produced a range of condensation flow speed values of 0.2 to 30 cm/hour and shows that, in those sections where the presence of condensation flow is visually apparent, there is a rapid dispersion of the colourant. However, it also shows that at points where there is no apparent condensation the process also occurs, but at a lower rate of efficiency. The importance of condensation within cavities has two aspects; firstly, speleogenetic, with the development of solution forms (cupolas) and deposit forms (capillarity boxwork); and secondly, hydrogeological, as this is the reason why certain processes (strong changes in temperature and humidity, multiple routes of airflow exchange with the exterior) may in themselves constitute a hydraulic contribution, of slight importance, but sufficient to explain a large part of the base flow (0.2 - 0.8 L/s) of a whole cavity system such as the Cueva del Agua in semiarid conditions.
With the intention of completing the analyses carried out in various karsts in gypsum, instruments were installed in the Cueva del Agua at Sorbas to measure, by continuous registration, some important physico-chemical parameters that might provide additional data on the hydro-geologic behaviour of this gypsiferous karst, especially at the level of the epikarstic zone. The parameters of temperature and water conductivity were considered most important, due to their singular behaviour patterns. During the experiment there were two periods of rainfall that modified the chemistry of the cavity, one of 30 mm in two days and another of 200 mm (almost the annual total) in four days. In the second case, which was much more extreme, a very significant increase in water temperature (up to 7 °C during the initial period of high water flow) was detected, while conductivity fell. But suddenly, when the minimum conductivity was reached, the temperature dropped sharply by 6-7 °C to return to the base temperature of the cavity. Subsequently, the temperature again stabilized at about 7 °C above the data recorded during the dry period. This behaviour pattern was not detected when the rainfall was slight. The explanation for this dual behaviour observed is fundamentally based on the quantity of rainfall and on the differences between the exterior air temperature, the temperature of interstitial water and the temperature recorded in the spring during high water flow. When water temperature in the cavity during high water flow is higher than the base temperature recorded in the period immediately before, it means that the interstitial water does not mobilize. However, when at any time the two temperatures coincide, one might suppose that there might have existed a process of mobilization of the water previously resident in the rock, by a piston effect, but in the unsaturated zone. On the other hand, the temporal variations of these parameters during the months following periods of high rainfall have enabled us to detect the existence of distinct periods during the return to normal cavity conditions. By carefully examining the decrease curve of water temperature inside the cavity while conductivity regained its maximum stable value, two periods may be differentiated. The first may be termed the "inertial influence period", when the rainfall occurring removes all signs of natural variation in the cavity. Thus, the daily external influences are not clearly detectable and the curve is downward-sloping and asymptotic with no significant oscillations. In the second period, which ends with the total stabilization of the parameter at the level of the initial conditions, the asymptotic descent is seen to be affected by daily temperature variations. This is termed the "inertial recovery period", during which external variations start to have an effect on the interior of the cavity such that there is a progressive increase in the amplitude of the daily variation in water temperature, air temperature and relative humidity. This behaviour pattern of variation of these parameters during periods of high rainfall, might be extended to all karstic systems, varying only in magnitude and temporal extent.


Solution and recrystallisation processes and associated landforms in gypsum outcrops of Sicily, 2003, Ferrarese F, Macaluso T, Madonia G, Palmeri A, Sauro U,
Four small areas of Messinian (Upper Miocene) age gypsum, outcropping in western Sicily, are described. Messinian age evaporites are found in Sicily over a 1000-km(2) area. Here, gypsum outcrops extensively as a consequence of soil erosion induced by human impact. Geomorphological maps show how the rocky surfaces are characterized by a wide range of forms. There are large, medium, small, and microsized forms, which can be identified as belonging to different morphotypes. The morphotypes can be classified into two main categories: those that originated by solution and those that originated through recrystallisation. Four areas, illustrated by geomorphological maps, were specifically chosen to describe a type of medium-sized form: dome-like hills. These medium-sized forms are covered by a mosaic of smaller forms, related to both the previous categories: different types of karren and of 'expansion' forms. The types of karren can be explained as the results of the solution process under different hydrodynamical behaviour; the dome-like hills and other related 'expansion' forms are more difficult to understand. These 'expansion' forms can be explained by the same process that leads to the development of gypsum tumuli. The outcrops of gypsum lacking soil cover and influenced by alternating seasonal water conditions of surplus and deficit are affected by both solution and recrystallisation processes. During the wet season, the water soaks into the rocky mass, filling all the fissures and pores of the outer rocky layer from a few centimetres to some metres below the surface. During the dry season, there is a capillary upward motion of the water solution. Near the surface, gypsum precipitates from the oversaturated solution, increasing the crystal size or forming new crystals. In this way, during the dry season, there is a pressure increase in the outer gypsum layers, which is responsible for the development of a 'gypsum weathering crust' and characterised by many different forms such as gypsum tumuli, pressure ridges, pressure humps, and other related small forms. The crust may also lead to the development of mega-tumuli and dome-like hills. From the morphostructural point of view, the dome-like hills do not seem to be controlled by the strike, dip, or fissuring of the gypsum beds. Their evolution seems to be linked to the fact that on most of the dome surfaces, the weathering crust is evolving through a nearly isotropic field of stresses, resulting in volume increase in the outer gypsum layer. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved

How much did climate force the Messinian salinity crisis? Quantified climatic conditions from pollen records in the Mediterranean region, 2006, Fauquette S, Suc Jp, Bertini A, Popescu Sm, Warny S, Bachiri Taoufiq N, Perez Villa Mj, Chikhi H, Feddi N, Subally D,
The latest Miocene (5.96 to 5.33[no-break space]Ma) is characterised by an outstanding event: the desiccation of the Mediterranean Sea (Messinian salinity crisis). It has been suggested that this was caused by a tectonic event, with no climatic change playing a role in desiccation. Quantifying the climate of the region during this period will help support or refute this hypothesis. An effective method for reconstructing the climate from Neogene pollen data is the 'Climatic Amplitude Method' based on the modern climatic requirements of plants to interpret fossil data. It has been conceived especially for periods devoid of modern vegetation analogue.Twenty Messinian to Lower Zanclean pollen sequences are now available in the peri-Mediterranean region. Most of them do not cover the whole Messinian interval, particularly those along the Mediterranean shorelines where sedimentation was interrupted during the sea's desiccation. In contrast, sedimentation was almost continuous in such areas as the Atlantic side of Morocco, along the Adriatic coast (including the Po Valley), and to a lesser extent the Black Sea. The Mediterranean sites nonetheless provide a reliable if not a discontinuous record of vegetation variability in time and space.A first examination of the pollen diagrams reveals a high regional variability controlled by local conditions, and throughout the interval a southward increase in herb pollen frequency in contrast to the tree pollen frequency. This indicates that open and probably dry environments existed in the southern Mediterranean region prior to, during and after the salinity crisis. Trees developed in areas close to mountains such as in the Po Valley, in Cerdanya and in the Black Sea region. Most variations observed in the pollen diagrams are constrained by fluctuations of Pinus pollen amounts, indicating eustatic variations. Climatic quantification from pollen data does not show obvious climatic changes due to the desiccation of the Mediterranean Sea, especially in the dry and warm southwestern Mediterranean area (Sicily, southern Spain and North Africa). At Maccarone, along the Adriatic Sea, a decrease in temperatures of the coldest month and, less importantly, a decrease in mean annual temperatures, corresponding to a drastic vegetation change, are reconstructed. These temperature variations are assumed to be controlled by regional environmental changes (massive arrival of waters in this basin) rather than to reflect cooling, because some authors link the second phase of evaporite deposition to a period of global warming. Some migrations of plants probably occurred as a response to Mediterranean desiccation. But the climatic contrast which has probably existed at that time between the central Mediterranean and the peripheral areas might be amplified.Climatic reconstruction from pollen data in the western Mediterranean area shows that climate is not the direct cause of the Mediterranean desiccation, as the Mediterranean region had experienced continuously high evaporation long before the crisis. Therefore the main factor leading to this event seems to be the successive closures of the Betic and Rifian corridors, isolating the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean

Reconstruction of the paleoenvironmental changes around the Miocene-Pliocene boundary along a West-East transect across the Mediterranean, 2006, Pierre Catherine, Caruso Antonio, Blancvalleron Marie Madeleine, Rouchy Jean Marie, Orzsagsperber Fabienne,
In order to reconstruct the environmental changes at the end of the Messinian salinity crisis, a multidisciplinary study has been carried out with a high sampling resolution of the late Messinian-early Zanclean (Zone MPl 1) sediments along a West-East Mediterranean transect. The studied examples comprise sections from southern Spain (Vera/Almanzora), Balearic Basin (ODP Site 975), Tyrrhenian Basin (ODP Site 974), Sicily (Eraclea Minoa), Zakynthos (Kalamaki), Corfu (Aghios Stefanos), Crete (Aghios Vlasis). Previously analyzed sections from the Levantine Basin (Cyprus and ODP Sites 968 and 969) are used for comparison. The sections have been correlated using planktonic foraminiferal assemblages, sedimentological and stable isotope variations, and compared to the astronomical cyclicity defined in the Miocene-Pliocene boundary stratotype of Eraclea Minoa, Sicily. Variations of CaCO3 content, stable isotopes of carbonates ([delta]18O, [delta]13C), and foraminiferal assemblages indicate similar environmental transition at the Miocene-Pliocene boundary in all of the investigated sections.The latest Messinian deposits are barren of fossils or characterized by only reworked planktonic foraminifers, except for the sporadic presence of Ammonia tepida, brackish or lacustrine ostracods and brackish mollusks typical of the 'Lago-Mare' facies. The oxygen and carbon isotopic compositions of carbonates usually exhibit large variations with dominantly low [delta] values indicating freshwater dilution. The earliest Pliocene (MPl 1, cycle 1) shows a rapid and progressive increase of the [delta]18O values, which indicates the restoration of marine conditions after the Lago-Mare event. Normal marine environments were definitely established and stabilized at the top of cycle 1.These data confirm that the inflow of marine waters occurred contemporaneously within the whole Mediterranean at the base of Pliocene, although stable marine conditions occurred only about 20[no-break space]kyrs later

The Messinian salinity crisis in the Mediterranean basin: A reassessment of the data and an integrated scenario, 2006, Rouchy Jean Marie, Caruso Antonio,
After a long period of controversial debate about the interpretation of the Messinian salinity crisis (MSC), a near consensus existed since the ODP Leg 42A for a model keeping the major lines of the deep basin-shallow water model initially proposed by Hsu et al. (1973). The knowledge of the crisis was improved since the 1995s by the availability of a very accurate astronomically calibrated timescale. The debate about its interpretation was then reactivated by several new scenarios that questioned most the major aspects of the previous classical models. The updated re-examination of the most salient features along with consideration of the hydrological requirements for evaporite deposition allow us to assess the viability of the new models. We propose an integrated scenario that revives the key points of the previous model with new statements about the chronology, depositional settings, hydrological mechanisms, consequences and correlations with the global changes. A model implying two main stages of evaporite deposition that affected successively the whole basin with a slight diachronism matches better the whole dataset. The distribution of the evaporites and their depositional timing were constrained by the high degree of paleogeographical differentiation and by the threshold effects that governed the water exchanges. It is assumed that the central Sicilian basin was a deep basin located in a marginal position with regard to the deepest central basins. The restriction of the Mediterranean was predominantly under a tectonic control, but the complex development of the evaporitic crisis implied the interplay of both glacio-eustatic changes and fluctuations of the circum-Mediterranean climate.The first evaporitic stage (lower evaporites) that includes the deposition of the thick homogeneous halite unit with K-Mg salt interbeds in the deepest basins is correlated with the major evaporative drawdown and higher aridity, and occurred during the glacial period recorded in the ocean sediments between 6.3 and 5.6 Ma. The deposition of the potash in Sicily is tentatively linked to the two major glacial peaks TG 20 and TG 22, while the end of this first stage is linked to the peak TG 12. The second stage (upper evaporites) correlates with the interval of warming and global sea level rise recorded in the ocean since 5.6-5.5 Ma onwards. During this second stage, freshwater contribution increased and culminated by the latest Messinian dilution, i.e. the Lago-Mare event, as the result of the worsened tectonically driven closure of the Atlantic gateways combined to an evolution towards wetter climate conditions at least on the mountainous peripheral areas. In fact, reduced inputs of seawater continued to enter at least episodically the basin through the MSC explaining the sporadic presence of marine organisms. These inputs reached their lowest value and practically ceased during the latest Messinian dilution, just before the abrupt restoration of stable open marine conditions at the beginning of the Zanclean.A polyphased erosional surface affected the Mediterranean margins during the MSC with several critical episodes. The major episode related to the greatest water level fall, more than 1000 m, occurred during the deposition of the lower evaporites, from the onset of the evaporite deposition till the end of the first stage. Erosional processes remained active during the second evaporitic stage especially whenever the basin dried-up and a last important event marked by the karstification of the evaporites developed during the latest Messinian dilution just before the Early Zanclean reflooding that filled the erosional morphology

Un géomorphosite: les Monts hybléens (sud-est de la Sicile), 2009, Ruggieri R. , Carbone S. , Galleti I.


Uplift rates defined by U-series and 14C ages of serpulid-encrusted speleothems from submerged caves near Siracusa, Sicily (Italy), 2009, Dutton Andrea, Scicchitano Giovanni, Monaco Carmelo, Desmarchelier Jolyon M. , Antonioli Fabrizio, Lambeck Kurt, Esat Tezer M. , Fifield L. Keith, Mcculloch Malcolm T. , Mortimer Graham

We have established a plausible rate of uplift near Siracusa in southeastern Sicily (Italy) over the last glacial–interglacial cycle using U-series ages of submerged speleothem calcite and 14C ages of calcite serpulid layers that encrust the speleothems during cave submergence. The precisely determined ages of these sea level benchmarks were compared with expected relative sea level position based on glacio-hydro-isostatic modeling to assess the rate of uplift in this region. When combined with the age of various late Holocene archaeological sites that have been recently described and characterized in terms of their functional position relative to sea level these data collectively define a rate of uplift ≤0.4 mm a−1 along this portion of the Sicilian coastline. These results are consistent with an age assignment of marine isotope stage (MIS) 5.3 or 5.5 for the Akradina terrace, which in turn places temporal constraints on paleoshorelines above and below this level.


Fluid flow reconstruction in karstified Panormide platform limestones (north-central Sicily): Implications for hydrocarbon prospectivity in the Sicilian fold and thrust belt, 2010, Dewever B. , Berwouts I. , Swennen R. , Breesch L. , Ellam R. M.

Diagenetic analysis based on field and petrographic observations, isotope and microthermometric data was used to reconstruct the fluid flow history of the Cretaceous shallow water limestones from the Panormide platform exposed in north-central Sicily. Analysis focused on diagenetic products in cavities and dissolution enlarged fractures of the karstified limestones that occur just below a regional unconformity. The fluid flow history could be broken down into five stages that were linked to the kinematic and burial history of the region. (1) Petrography (zoned cathodoluminescence and speleothem textures) and stable isotopes (6.5 PDB &/Tm_2 to _5 _C), but at increasingly higher temperatures (Th 60–120 _C). This has been interpreted as precipitation during Oligocene foredeep burial. (4) Hot (Th 130–180 _C), low saline (Tm he low salinity and relatively high d18OSMOW signatures of the fluids are interpreted to be the result of clay dewatering reactions. The presence of bitumen and associated fluorite with hydrocarbon inclusions at this stage in the paragenesis constrains the timing of oil migration in the region. (5) Finally, high saline fluids with elevated 87Sr/86Sr (0.7095–0.7105) signatures invaded the karst system. This last fluid flow event was possibly coeval with localized dolomitization and calcite cementation along high-angle faults of Pliocene age, as suggested by identical radiogenic signatures of these diagenetic products.


New knowledge on the Monte Conca gypsum karst system (central-western Sicily, Italy), 2011, Madonia Giuliana, Vattano Marco

The Monte Conca karst system is located in Central-Western Sicily, where Messinian evaporites are widespread. Here, the evaporites lie on lower Messinian-middle Serravallian clayey-marly-sandy deposits and are overlain locally by Pliocene marly limestones. These successions are affected by E-W, and to a lesser degree N-S and NW-SE, high-angle faults that have also produced lateral contacts between the gypsum units and the clayey-marly deposits. The cave passages reach altogether about 2.4 km in length and 130 m in depth, and the system consists of a sink cave, a resurgence and a relict resurgence. At large scale it is characterized by superimposed levels of sub-horizontal galleries connected by vertical shafts, which are developed in adjustment to the contemporary geomorphological setting. Until 2003, the sink cave was known to have been formed by a stream-sink, an upper horizontal gallery, a sequence of four shafts and a lower gallery. New explorations have discovered 1.5 km of relict passages that are correlatable with the inactive resurgence level and that occur at intermediate elevations between the two stories of galleries. Sinks of these relict branches are located headward of the actual sink point, but they have been sealed and covered by thick debris and alluvial deposits from the surface slopes. The resurgence consists of two superimposed galleries, the upper one inactive and the lower one active in equilibrium with the current local base level. The relict resurgence is located about 40 m above the resurgence and is characterized by a sub-horizontal gallery partially filled by copious alluvial deposits. Analysis of the gallery patterns and of the cave landforms suggests that the karst system is a multi-layer system formed under unconfined conditions. Additionally, analysis suggests that its evolution is due to a succession of stillstand and lowering phases of the karst base level, according to a regional uplifting trend, and to surface slope processes, which have complicated the structure of the karst system.


Karst of Sicily and its Conservation, 2012, Di Maggio C. , Madonia G. , Parise M. , Vattano M.

In Sicily, karst is well developed and exhibits different types of landscapes due to the wide distribution of soluble rocks in different geological and environmental settings. Karst affects both carbonate rocks, outcropping in the northwest and central sectors of the Apennine chain and in the foreland area, and evaporite rocks, mainly gypsum, that characterize the central and the southern parts of the island. The carbonate and gypsum karsts show a great variety of surface landforms, such as karren, dolines, poljes, blind valleys, and fluvio-karst canyons, as well as cave systems. Karst areas in Sicily represent extraordinary environments for the study of solution forms. In addition, they are of great environmental value because they contain a variety of habitats that hold species of biogeographic significance. Unfortunately, karst areas are increasingly threatened by human activity, mainly in the form of grazing and other agricultural practices, wildfires, quarrying, urbanization, building of rural homes, and infrastructure development. The value of karst features has been recognized by the Sicilian Regional Government since 1981 when it enacted laws to create several nature reserves to preserve the peculiar karst landscapes, including caves. At present, the state of conservation of karst areas in Sicily may be considered to be at an acceptable level, yet numerous issues and difficulties need to be overcome for the effective protection and enhancement of karstlands.


Acqua Fitusa Cave: an example of inactive water-table sulphuric acid cave in Central Sicily, 2012, Vattano M. , Audra Ph. , Bigot J. Y. , Waele J. D. , Madonia G. , Nobcourt J. C.

Hypogenic caves are generated by water recharging from below independently of seepage from the overlying or immediately adjacent surface. These waters are often thermal and enriched in dissolved gases, the most common of which are CO2 and H2S. Hypogenic caves can be thermal caves, sulphuric acid caves, basal injection caves. They differ from epigenic caves in many ways, such as: speleogenetic mechanisms, morphological features, chemical deposits, and lack of alluvial sediments (KLIMCHOUK, 2007; KLIMCHOUK & FORD, 2009; PALMER, 2011). Several studies were conducted to evaluate the hypogenic origin of a large number of caves (AUDRA et alii, 2010; KLIMCHOUK & FORD, 2009; STAFFORD et alii, 2009). A significant contribution was given by the work of Klimchouk (2007) that systematically provided instruments and models to better understand and well define the hypogenic karst processes and landforms. Detailed studies on hypogenic caves were carried out in Italy since the 90s in different karst systems, especially in the Central and Southern Appenines. These studies mainly concerned chemical deposits related to ascending water and micro-biological action (GALDENZI & MENICHETTI, 1995; GALDENZI, 1997; PICCINI, 2000; GALDENZI & MARUOKA, 2003, FORTI & MOCCHIUTTI, 2004; GALDENZI, 2012). In this paper, we present the first results of researches conducted in Acqua Fitusa cave that was believed to be an epigenic cave until today. Acqua Fitusa cave is located in Central Sicily, along the north-eastern scarp of a N-S anticline, westward vergent, forming the Mt. La Montagnola. The cave formed in the Upper Cretaceous Rudist breccias member of the Crisanti Fm., composed of conglomerates and reworked calcarenites with rudist fragments and benthic foraminifers ( CATALANO et alii, 2011). The cave consists at least of three stories of subhorizontal conduits, displaying a total length of 700 m, and a vertical range of 25 m. It represents a clear example of inactive water-table sulphuric acid cave, produced mainly by H 2S degassing in the cave atmosphere. Despite the small size, Acqua Fitusa cave is very interesting for the abundance and variety of forms and deposits related to rising waters and air flow. A ~ 7 m deep inactive thermo-sulphuric discharge slot intersects the floor of some passages for several meters (Fig. 1). Different morphologies of small and large sizes, generated by condensation-corrosion processes, can be observed along the ceiling and walls: ceiling cupolas and large wall convection niches occur in the largest rooms of the cave; deep wall convection niches, in places forming notches, incise cave walls at different heights; condensation-corrosion channels similar to ceiling-half tubes carve the roof of some passages; replacements pockets due to corrosion-substitution processes are widespread; boxwork due to differential condensation-corrosion were observed in the upper parts of the conduits. Sulphuric notches with flat roof, linked to lateral corrosion of the thermal water table, carve the cave walls at different heights recording past stages of base-level lowering. 


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