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Enviroscan Ukrainian Institute of Speleology and Karstology


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Community news

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 onyx marble is translucent layers of calcium carbonate from cave deposits, often called mexican onyx or cave onyx; used as an ornamental stone [10].?

Checkout all 2699 terms in the KarstBase Glossary of Karst and Cave Terms


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KarstBase a bibliography database in karst and cave science.

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 abundance (Keyword) returned 112 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 16 to 30 of 112
238U---234U---230Th---232Th systematics and the precise measurement of time over the past 500,000 years, 1987,
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Lawrence Edwards R. , Chen J. H. , Wasserburg G. J. ,
We have developed techniques to measure the 230Th abundance in corals by isotope dilution mass spectrometry. This, coupled with our previous development of mass spectrometric techniques for 234U and 232Th measurement, has allowed us to reduce significantly the analytical errors in 238U---234U---230Th dating and greatly reduce the sample size. We show that 6 x 108 atoms of 230Th can be measured to 30[per mille sign] (2[sigma]) and 2 x 1010 atoms of 230Th to 2[per mille sign]. The time over which useful age data on corals can be obtained ranges from a few years to ~ 500 ky. The uncertainty in age, based on analytical errors, is 5 y (2[sigma]) for a 180 year old coral (3 g), 44 y at 8294 years and 1.1 ky at 123.1 ky (250 mg of coral). We also report 232Th concentrations in corals (0.083-1.57 pmol/g) that are more than two orders of magnitude lower than previous values. Ages with high analytical precision were determined for several corals that grew during high sea level stands ~ 120 ky ago. These ages lie specifically within or slightly postdate the Milankovitch insolation high at 128 ky and support the idea that the dominant cause of Pleistocene climate change is Milankovitch forcing

Le karst nivernais : aperu gomorphologique et hydrogologique, 1989,
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Couturaud A. , Orange A.
The Nivre karst: geomorphologic and hydrogeologic considerations - Western part of Burgundy and southern part of the Paris basin, the Nivernais karst takes from both regions their lithologic and structural features: Middle and Upper Jurassic carbonate formations, monocline structure with horsts and grabens. But its particularity is in the thick superficial formations, that are supporting a wide mantle of forest, and that determine its morphology, its hydrodynamic and its hydrochemistry. The karst area is distinguished by closed depressions and by the abundance of valleys. The penetrable cavities are scarce and of a little extension, and are principally underground streams. The study of the hydrodynamic and the chemistry of some springs have shown the complexity and the variability of the dynamic of the karstic systems that depends essentially on the superficial formations.

Distribution and Abundance of Bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) in Coastal Plain Caves of Southern Alabama, 1992,
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Best Troy L. , Carey Steven D. , Caesar Katherine G. , Henry Travis Hill

Palaeoclimate determination from cave calcite deposits, 1992,
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Gascoyne M,
Calcite deposits formed in limestone caves have been found to be an excellent repository of palaeoclimatic data for terrestrial environments. The very presence of a relict deposit indicates non-glacial conditions at the time of formation, and both 14C and uranium-series methods can be used to date the deposit and, hence, the age of these climatic conditions. Variations in 13C and 18O content of the calcite, in 2H and 18O content of fluid inclusions, in trace element concentrations and, more recently, in pollen assemblages trapped in the calcite, are all potentially available as synchronous palaeoclimatic indicators. Previous work has tended to concentrate mainly on abundance of deposits as a palaeoclimatic indicator for the last 300,000 years. This literature is briefly reviewed here, together with the theory and methods of analysis of the U-series and stable isotopic techniques. The combined use of U-series ages and 13C and 18O variations in cave calcites illustrates the potential for palaeoclimate determination. Previously unpublished results of stable isotopic variations in dated calcites from caves in northern England indicate the level of detail of stable isotopic variations and time resolution that can be obtained, and the complexity of interpretation that may arise. Tentative palaeoclimatic signals for the periods 90-125 ka and 170-300 ka are presented. More comprehensive studies are needed in future work, especially in view of the difficulty in obtaining suitable deposits and the ethics of cave deposits conservation

RELATION OF MINERALIZATION TO WALL-ROCK ALTERATION AND BRECCIATION, MASCOT JEFFERSON-CITY MISSISSIPPI-VALLEY-TYPE DISTRICT, TENNESSEE, 1994,
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Haynes F. M. , Keslr S. E. ,
This study was undertaken to assess the relation of Mississippi Valley-type mineralization to wall-rock alteration and brecciation in the Mascot-Jefferson City district, the largest part of the East Tennessee Mississippi Valley-type ore field. The main question of interest was whether the Mississippi Valley-type-forming brines created or greatly enlarged the breccia system that hosts the ore or whether the breccia system was a preexisting paleoaquifer that simply controlled movement of the mineralizing brines. A secondary, and closely related, question was whether brine-wall rock interaction deposited Mississippi Valley-type ore. The breccia system that hosts the East Tennessee ore field began as karst breccias which formed in the upper part of the Late Cambrian-Early Ordovician Knox Group during Middle Ordovician emergence. Brecciation, which was most common at the paleosurface and in a limestone-rich zone about 200 m below the surface, took place when limestone solution caused collapse of primary dolostone layers. Mississippi Valley-type mineralization, consisting of sphalerite and sparry dolomite, fills interstices in the breccias that formed in the limestone-rich part of the Knox Group. Ore is associated with ''recrystalline dolomite'' that replaced limestone and there is an inverse correlation between the original limestone and sphalerite abundance suggesting that the ore-forming fluids reacted strongly with limestone wall rock, possibly dissolving it where alteration was most intense. The assessment of a relation between alteration and Mississippi Valley-type mineralization was based on 3,533 surface drill holes covering the 110-km2 Mascot-Jefferson City district, each of which provided stratigraphic data and quantified estimates of mineralization intensity and alteration intensity. These data show clearly that as much as 50 percent of the limestone in the mineralized breccia section was lost over enormous areas that extend far beyond significant mineralization. The intensity of this effect clearly decreases downdip (toward the east), away from the probable source of meteoric karst-forming waters. These relations, combined with isotopic analyses and reaction path calculations, suggest that breccia formation and limestone dissolution took place during the original karst breccia formation. In contrast, later Mississippi Valley-type mineralization was associated with replacement of limestone by recrystalline dolomite. The main effect of dolomitization on the chemistry of the Mississippi Valley-type brines, an increase in their Ca/Mg ratio, would not cause sulfide precipitation. Thus, it appears unlikely that Mississippi Valley-type-forming brines created much of their ore-hosting breccias or that water-rock interaction was a major cause of Mississippi Valley-type ore deposition

Reporting of stable hydrogen, carbon and oxygen abundances, 1994,
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Coplen T. B.

Middle Holocene environmental change determined from the salt caves of Mount Sedom, Israel, 1994,
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Frumkin, A. , Carmi, I. , Zak, I. And Magaritz, M. , 1994
Paleoclimatic sequence for the Middle Holocene was constructed, based on Mount Sedom salt caves, and other evidence. Mount Sedom is a salt diapir, on the southwestern shore of the Dead Sea, which has been rising above the local base level throughout the Holocene. Allogenic karst development has kept pace with the rising, forming vadose caves. Wood fragments found embedded in flood sediments that were deposited in sub-horizontal cave passages yielded 14C ages from 7090 to 200 YBP. The paleoclimatic sequence is based on parameters that include: relative abundance of plant types or floral communities, the elevations of the corresponding relict cave passages and the ratio of their width to present passage width. Moister climatic stages are indicated by relatively abundant wood remains, by wide cave passages and by higher-level outlets, indicating high Dead Sea levels. Arid periods are marked by a scarcity of wood remains, by narrow cave passages and by low-level outlets. The results were correlated to other middle-Holocene evidence and temporal settlement changes. The Early Bronze period in Israel was the moistest period during the last 6000 years and as such it encouraged cultural development. It was followed by a considerable desiccation that caused a cultural deterioration.

CYCLOSTRATIGRAPHY OF MIDDLE DEVONIAN CARBONATES OF THE EASTERN GREAT-BASIN, 1995,
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Elrick M,
Middle Devonian carbonates (250-430 m thick) of the eastern Great Basin were deposited along a low energy, westward-thickening, distally steepened ramp. Four third-order sequences can be correlated across the ramp-to-basin transition and are composed of meter-scale, upward-shallowing carbonate cycles (or parasequences). Peritidal cycles (shallow subtidal facies capped by tidal-flat laminites) constitute 90% of all measured cycles and are present across the entire ramp. The peritidal cycles are regressive- and transgressive-prone (upward-deepening followed by upward-shallowing facies trends). Approximately 80% of the peritidal cycle caps show evidence of prolonged subaerial exposure including sediment-filled dissolution cavities, horizontal to vertical desiccation cracks, rubble and karst breccias, and pedogenic alteration; locally these features are present down to 2 m below the cycle caps. Subtidal cycles (capped by shallow subtidal facies) are present along the middle-outer ramp and ramp margin and indicate incomplete shallowing. submerged subtidal cycles (64% of all subtidal cycles) are composed of deeper subtidal facies overlain by shallow subtidal facies. Exposed subtidal cycles are composed of deeper subtidal facies overlain by shallow subtidal facies that are capped by features indicative of prolonged subaerial exposure (dissolution cavities and brecciation). Average peritidal and subtidal cycle durations are between approximately 50 and 130 k.y. (fourth- to fifth-order). The combined evidence of abundant exposure-capped peritidal and subtidal cycles, transgressive-prone cycles, and subtidal cycles correlative with updip peritidal cycles indicates that the cycles formed in response to fourth- to fifth-order, glacio-eustatic sea-level oscillations. Sea-level oscillations of relatively low magnitude (< 10 m) are suggested by the abundance of peritidal cycles, the lack of widely varying, water-depth-dependent facies within individual cycles, and the presence of noncyclic stratigraphic intervals within intrashelf-basin, slope, and basin facies. Noncyclic intervals represent missed subtidal beats when the seafloor lay too deep to record the effects of the short-term sea-level oscillations. Exposure surfaces at the tops of peritidal and subtidal cycles represent one, or more likely several, missed sea-level oscillations when the platform lay above fluctuating sea level, but the amplitude of fourth- to fifth-order sea-level oscillation(s) were not high enough to flood the ramp. The large number of missed beats (exposure-capped cycles), specifically in Sequences 2 and 4, results in Fischer plots that show poorly developed rising and falling limbs (subdued wave-like patterns); consequently the Fischer plots: are of limited use as a correlation tool for these particular depositional sequences. The abundance of missed beats also explains why Milankovitch-type cycle ratios (similar to 5:1 or similar to 4:1) are not observed and why such ratios would not be expected along many peritidal-cycle-dominated carbonate platforms

Searching for extinction/recovery gradients: the Frasnian-Famennian interval, Mokra Section, Moravia, central Europe, 1996,
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Cejchan P, Hladil J,
A series of ancient seafloors colonized by diverse organisms has been documented from the Upper Devonian rocks of the Western Mokra Quarry. Situated in the southern tectonic closure of the Moravian Karst, the Frasnian-Famennian shallow carbonate ramps exhibit both Rhenish and Ukrainian affinities. Reconstruction of palaeo-sea floor horizons results in a series of 28 quadrats sufficient for further evaluation. Eighty-five taxa involved were scrutinized for abundance, occupied area, skeletal mass production and biomass production. The aim of the study was to determine whether the observed sequence of quadrats can be distinguished from a random one, and to discover any possible unidimensional gradient as a latent control. Monte Carlo simulations and a graph theoretical approach were utilized. Although the raw data seemed chaotic, the simulations demonstrated the observed sequence is not random. A significant influence of a hidden control is thus suggested. Fifteen characteristics of quadrats (e.g. diversity, number of taxa, vertical stratification of community, number of patches) were utilized for final interpretation. The gradient reconstructed by TSP algorithm reveals a significant crisis within the uppermost part of the Amphipora-bearing limestone

Long term stability of a terrestrial cave community, 1997,
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Carchini Gianmaria, Di Russo Claudio, Luccarelli Marco, Rampini Mauro, Sbordoni Valerio
We report data on the spatial structure and seasonal variation of the community of Valmarino cave, a medium sized sandstone cave, located a few kilometres from the coast line, in Central Italy. Due to both its habitat features and its relatively recent geological history, Valmarino cave is only inhabited by terrestrial, troglophilic elements, i.e facultative cave dwellers. By means of monthly censuses and density plot estimates we have investigated species abundance, diversity and their spatial organization, by considering separately samples from different cave sectors. Homogeneous sampling design allowed to compare series of samplings performed in 1974 and 1994. On the whole 21 arthropods and one snail species constitute the cave community. Ordination plots resulting from correspondence analyses of monthly samples outline a distinct spatial and temporal structure. Two main sub-communities can be identified: a inner subcommunity, mainly represented by eu-troglophilic species, showing a remarkable stability throughout the year and an outer sub-community, mainly represented by sub-troglophilic species, showing strong seasonal variation. Both spatial and temporal vectors show similar importance in shaping the community structure. An interesting result of this study is the long term stability of both spatial and seasonal components of the community structure which remained almost identical after 20 years, as shown by the comparison of ordination plots obtained from 1974 and 1994 sampling series. Therefore this study provides empirical evidence of a frequently hypothesised, albeit never demonstrated feature of the cave ecosystem.

ALGAE: AN IMPORTANT AGENT IN DEPOSITION OF KARSTIC TRAVERTINES: OBSERVATIONS ON NATURAL-BRIDGE YERKOPRU TRAVERTINES, ALADAĞLAR, EASTERN TAURIDS-TURKEY, 1997,
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Bayari C. Serdar, Kurttas Turker
Travertines are terrestrial, fresh water carbonate deposits formed by karstic springs and associated streams which are saturated with respect to calcite. Field observations form recently travertine depositing arstic springs in Aladağlar, Eastern Taurids ? Turkey indicate that the deposition process is accelerated considerably by the physical and biochemical contribution of algae which are mostly belong to classes of Cyanophyceae (blue-green algae) Chlorophyceae (diatoms), Eugleno-phyceae and Xhantophyceae. Algae conributes physically to the deposition of travertine by means of trapping of inorganically formed calcite micro-crystals by algal filaments and mucilagenous secretions and by providing proper nucleation sites for calcite precipitation. Biochemical activity of algae also forces the aquatic system to deposit travertine due to the photosynthetic removal of free carbondioxide from the solution. Field observations indicate that the rate of physical and chemical contribution to the deposition depends strongly on the hydraullic conditions. Physical and biochemical roles becomes important in high and low /velocity/energy streams, respectively. The effect of algal association over the travertine deposition can be observed apparently especially in streams where the ratio of algal mass to the rate of stream flow is substantially high. Since the climatic conditions (air temperature and insolation) have strong influence upon the abundance of algae, the rate of travertine deposited by algal contribution decreasing during winter months when algal population decreases. Similarly , the biochemical contribution shows a diurnal pattern with a maximum during a mid day because of the higher uptake of carbondioxide via photosynthesis.

The Cave-inhabiting Beetles of Cuba (Insecta: Coleoptera): Diversity, Distribution and Ecology, 1998,
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Peck, S. B. , Ruizbali, A. E. , Gonzalez, G. F. G.
The known cave-inhabiting beetle fauna of Cuba is summarized. Fifty-three species have been found in 70 low elevation caves in 11 provinces. Distribution of species by family is: Carabidae, 10; Dytiscidae, 4; Gyrinidae, 2; Hydrophilidae, 2; Histeridae, 5; Leiodidae, 2; Ptiliidae, 3; Staphylinidae, 1; Scarabaeidae, 4; Elateridae, 2; Lampyridae, 1; Nitidulidae, 1; Cerylonidae, 1; Tenebrionidae, 12; and Curculionidae, 3. Twenty-four of the species are judged to be accidental cave inhabitants. The remaining 29 species can be placed in the following ecological-evolutionary categories: trogloxenes, 3 species; first-level troglophiles, 21 species; second-level troglophiles (=unmodified neotroglobites), 5 species. No true troglobites are known (i.e., none of the species is morphologically specialized for cave life). About 59% of the non-accidental inhabitants are endemic to Cuba. The taxonomic composition is similar to that in caves in other West Indian Islands, and impoverished when compared to Neotropical continental caves. The abundance of food (bat guano) seems a prime factor preventing selection for cave-specialization in lowland West Indian and continental Neotropical cave beetles.

Blue Lagon, Afrique du Sud, une grotte remplissage palokarstique permien et concrtions daragonite, 1998,
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Martini J. E. J. , Moen H. F. G.
The authors de scribe a 7 km long phreatic maze they discovered and explored during the last decade of the 2Oth century in South Africa, developed in the late Archean dolostone in the Malmani Subgroup. This cave is of interest mainly for two aspects. Firstly the cave intersects paleokarst channels filled with bleached kaolinic residuals of Permian age. This paleokarst is most likely to have developed relatively shortly after the Gondwana glaciation in a cool, humid climate. Secondly the cave is remarkable by the abundance of aragonite speleothems. Particularly interesting are subaquatic aragonite formations: rafts, cones, volcanoes, sea urchins and pool floor crust. Aragonite rafts are always associated with more or less calcite, which seems to have formed first and was apparently essential in the initial formation of this speleothem. In the pool floor crust, a cyclical calcite-aragonite deposition seems to correspond to alternation of humid and dry periods, calcite representing wet years. The amplitude of this cycle is possibly in the order of a few decades. Phosphate minerals which developed on cave soil, rock and carbonate speleothems in contact with bat guano, have been identified, in particular the rare mineral collinsite

Processes controlling colloid composition in a fractured and karstic aquifer in eastern Tennessee, USA, 1998,
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Mccarthy J. F. , Shevenell L. ,
Groundwater was sampled from a number of wells along recharge pathways between fractured shale and karstic formations to evaluate the chemical and hydrologic mechanisms controlling the nature and abundance of groundwater colloids. The colloids recovered using low flow rate purging and sampling exhibited a composition and abundance consistent with lithology, flow paths, and effects of hydrology and aqueous chemistry on colloid mobilization and stability. In general, the larger-size colloids and Ca-containing colloids were more abundant in the karstic lithologies, while Na-containing colloids were more important in the shales. The composition of the colloids reflected recharge pathways from the fractured shale and dolomite formations on the ridges into the limestone in the valley floor. The Mg-colloids in the limestone reflect the possible contributions from the dolomite, while the Na, K, and Si reflect possible contributions from the shale, However, it was not possible to use the colloid composition as a signature to demonstrate colloid transport from one lithology to another. Mixing of recharge water from the shale with groundwater within the limestone formation and precipitation/dissolution reactions could account for the colloids present in the limestone without invoking transport of specific shale-derived colloids into the limestone formation. The abundance of colloids in groundwater appears to be controlled by both chemical factors affecting colloid stability, as well as physical factors related to hydrology (storm-driven recharge and water velocities). In general, colloids were more abundant in wells with low ionic strength, such as shallow wells in water table aquifers near sources of recharge at the top of the ridges, Increases in cation concentrations due to dissolution reactions along Bow paths were associated with decreases in colloid abundance. However, in spite of elevated ionic strength, colloid concentrations tended to be unexpectedly high in karstic wells that were completed in cavities or water-bearing fractures. The higher levels of colloids appear to be related to storm-driven changes in chemistry or flow rates that causes resuspension of colloids settled within cavities and fractures. Published by Elsevier Science B.V

Contribution to knowledge of gypsum karstology, PhD thesis, 1998,
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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.


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