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Enviroscan Ukrainian Institute of Speleology and Karstology

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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 hydraulic conductivity is 1. a proportionality constant relating hydraulic gradient to specific discharge which for an isotropic medium and homogeneous fluid, equals the volume of water at the existing kinematic viscosity that will move in unit time under a unit hydraulic gradient through a unit area measured at right angles to the direction of flow [22]. 2. the volume of water that will move through a medium in a unit of time under a unit hydraulic gradient through a unit area measured perpendicular to the direction of flow [22]. 3. the ability of a rock unit to conduct water under specified conditions [10]. it is typically expressed as gpd/ft2, ft/day, or m/day.?

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

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Browse Speleogenesis Issues:

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 magnitude (Keyword) returned 147 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 16 to 30 of 147
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Frumkin A, Ford Dc,
Rock salt is approximately 1000 times more soluble than limestone and thus displays high rates of geomorphic evolution. Cave stream channel profiles and downcutting rates were studied in the Mount Sedom salt diapir, Dead Sea rift valley, Israel. Although the area is very arid (mean annual rainfall approximate to 50 mm), the diapir contains extensive karst systems of Holocene age. In the standard cave profile a vertical shaft at the upstream end diverts water from a surface channel in anhydrite or elastic cap rocks into the subsurface route in the salt. Mass balance calculations in a sample cave passage yielded downcutting rates of 0.2 mm s(-1) during peak flood conditions, or about eight orders of magnitude higher than reported rates in any limestone cave streams. However, in the arid climate of Mount Sedom floods have a low recurrence interval with the consequence that long-term mean downcutting rates are lower: an average rate of 8.8 mm a(-1) was measured for the period 1986-1991 in the same sample passage. Quite independently, long-term mean rates of 6.2 mm a(-1) are deduced from C-14 ages of driftwood found in upper levels of 12 cave passages. These are at least three orders of magnitude higher than rates established for limestone caves. Salt cave passages develop in two main stages: (1) an early stage characterized by high downcutting rates into the rock salt bed, and steep passage gradients; (2) a mature stage characterized by lower downcutting rates, with establishment of a subhorizontal stream bed armoured with alluvial detritus. In this mature stage downcutting rates are controlled by the uplift rate of the Mount Sedom diapir and changes of the level of the Dead Sea. Passages may also aggrade. These fast-developing salt stream channels may serve as full-scale models for slower developing systems such as limestone canyons

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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

Solutional landforms in quartz sandstones of the Sydney Basin, PhD thesis, 1995,
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Wray, R. A. L

Solutional landforms have been described for over a hundred years from limestone terrains and are termed karst. In many tropical regions landforms of similar morphology but on highly siliceous sandstones and quartzites have also recently been identified. The similarity of many of these features in morphology and also in genetic solutional processes to those on limestone has prompted recent calls for these quartzose landforms to also be regarded as true karst.
Although not unknown in temperate latitudes, these highly siliceous solutional landforms have been most commonly studied in present-day tropical regions, or areas believed to have been tropical in the recent past. This concentration of research in hot-wet areas, allied with the long held assertion of the insolubility of silica, especially quartz, led to a belief that tropical climatic conditions are necessary for karstic solution of these rocks. However, some of these quartzose solutional landforms are known in areas of temperate climate where there is little evidence for prior tropical conditions. A comprehensive worldwide review of these landforms, and the processes involved in their formation, has not previously been conducted and forms the basis from which this study stems.
The Sydney Basin in southeastern Australia has had a stable temperate climate for much of the Cainozoic with no evidence of tropical climate. The highly quartzose Permo-Triassic sandstones of this area have little carbonate, but nevertheless display a wide range of landforms morphologically similar to those both on limestones and also tropical quartzites These include large bedrock towers, grikes, caves, smaller solution basins and runnels, and even widespread silica speleothems. This study describes the morphology of this suite of landforms in detail, and provides a comparative analysis of these sandstone forms to those reported from quartzites of tropical areas and also their limestone analogues. Various microscopic and natural water chemistry analysis are then utilised in examining the poorly understood natural processes responsible for their formation. The process of sandstone solutional weathering in the Sydney Basin is also compared with that reported from the tropics, finding very little difference in either the form or magnitude of attack between these two climatically distinct regions. No previous studies have examined the wide range of solutional features found on quartz sandstones in one region of a climate comparable to Sydney, nor the processes involved in the genesis of these forms.

Weathering crust and karren on exposed gypsum surfaces., 1996,
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Macaluso Tommaso, Sauro Ugo
The evolution of gypsum bare rock surfaces is the result both of changes of the outer rock layer and mass wasting by dissolutional processes. Some unusual weathering processes induce an increase in the of the outer gypsum layer, resulting in the development of a "weathering crust" and of characteristic forms such as small ridges and bubbles. However, the more typical erosional forms are dissolutional ones of karren type, which are commonly interconnected, or superimposed upon the previously described forms. In this chapter a classification system is proposed and discussed, within which the magnitude, order and geometry of the different karren forms are outlined, and the related lithofacies and main morphogenetic processes are examined.

The kinetics of the reaction CO2?>H? as one of the rate limiting steps for the dissolution of calcite in the system H2O-CO2-CaCO3, 1996,
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Dreybrodt W, Lauckner J, Liu Zh, Svensson U, Buhmann D,
Dissolution of CaCO3 in the system H2O-CO2-CaCO3 is controlled by three rate-determining processes: The kinetics of dissolution at the mineral surface, mass transport by diffusion, and the slow kinetics of the reaction H2O CO2 = H HCO3-. A theoretical model of Buhmann and Dreybrodt (1985a,b) predicts that the dissolution rates depend critically on the ratio V/A of the volume V of the solution and the surface area A of the reacting mineral. Experimental data verifying these predictions for stagnant solutions have been already obtained in the range 0.01 cm < V/A < 0.1 cm. We have performed measurements of dissolution rates in a porous medium of sized CaCO3 particles for V/A in the range of 2 . 10(-4) cm and 0.01 cm in a system closed with respect to CO2 using solutions pre-equilibrated with an initial partial pressure of CO2 of 1 . 10(-2) and 5 . 10(-2) atm. The results are in satisfactory agreement with the theoretical predictions and show that especially for V/A < 10(-3) cm dissolution is controlled entirely by conversion of CO2 into H and HCO3-, whereas in the range from 10(-3) cm up to 10(-1) cm both CO2-conversion and molecular diffusion are the rate controlling processes. This is corroborated by performing dissolution experiments using 0.6 mu molar solutions of carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme enhancing the CO2-conversion rates by several orders of magnitude. In these experiments CO2 conversion is no longer rate limiting and consequently the dissolution rates of CaCO3 increase significantly. We have also performed batch experiments at various initial pressures of CO2 by stirring sized calcite particles in a solution with V/A = 0.6 cm and V/A = 0.038 cm. These data also clearly show the influence of CO2-conversion on the dissolution rates. In all experiments inhibition of dissolution occurs close to equilibrium. Therefore, the theoretical predictions are valid for concentrations c less than or equal to 0.9 c(eq). Summarising we find good agreement between experimental and theoretically predicted dissolution rates. Therefore, the theoretical model can be used with confidence to find reliable dissolution rates from the chemical composition of a solution for a wide field of geological applications

Hydrogeological study and discharge features of the Niksar karst springs (Tokat-Turkey), 1997,
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Syed M. A. , Afsin M. , Celik M. ,
The exposed Paleozoic and Recent units in the study area have various hydrogeological characteristics such as pervious, semipervious, and impervious. Pervious limestones and associated impervious formations that were not influenced by tectonic movement are connected to produce karst springs. This paper presents the relationship between the discharge coefficient and other aquifer properties by using the hydrograph analyses of the karst springs. The magnitude of the discharge of the spring apparently controls the character of flow (such as laminar) and conduit in the aquifer. The correlation analysis shows a positive relation between Q(0)-Q(t), Q(0)-storage capacity, Q(t)-storage capacity, and alpha-discharge change, These results enhances the properties of the karst springs. Both monthly and annual rainfall contribute to spring discharge. All karst springwaters are suitable for household and food industry uses

Karst and hydrogeology of Lebanon, 1997,
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Edgell Hs,
Karst is very well-developed in Lebanon in thick, exposed, fractured and folded Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Eocene carbonates, as well as in localized, coastal Miocene limestones. This karstification not only results from the predominant calcareous lithology, but is also caused by the high, northerly trending ranges of he country, which cause abundant precipitation, as heavy rain and thick snow, to fall on Mt. Lebanon, Jabal Barouk, Jabal Niha, and Mt. Hermon. Lesser amounts fall on the Anti-Lebanon, Beqa'a Valley and the coastal hills of the country. Some 80% of precipitation occurs from November through February. The karst water emerges from five first-magnitude springs (Ain ez Zarqa (11 m(3)/sec), Ain Anjar (max. 10m(3)/sec), Nabaa Ouazzani (max. 6m(3)/sec), Nabaa Arbaain (mau. 3 m(3)/sec) and Nabaa Barouk (max. 3m(3)/sec), plus hundreds of second-and third-magnitude springs, and thousands of smaller springs. The large springs are all karstic and contribute to 13 perennial springs in the main Lebanese ranges, and 2 in the Anti-Lebanon. These include major rivers, such as the Nahr el Litani, Nahr el Assi (Orontes) and Nabr el Hasbani (upper Jordan River). More than two-thirds of the area of Lebanon (i.e. 6900 km(2)) is karstified and includes surface karst features, such as poljes, uvalas, dolines, blind valleys, natural bridges, and ponors, as well as smaller features, like karren and hoodoos. Subsurface karst features include many types of solutional shafts and galleries, grottoes, subsurface lakes and rivers and most types of speleothems. There are at least 15 aquifers in Lebanon, of which 14 are in karstified carbonate strata. The 1700m thick limestone/dolomite core of the ranges and over 2000m thickness of flanking, or overlying, Cretaceous limestones provide the majority of these aquifers, while significant aquifers are also found in thick Eocene limestones. High transmissivity values (T = or > 1.83 x 10(-1) m(2)) occur in these karstic aquifers, as is shown by the rapid decline in spring flow over the dry summer and autumn months, and their very quick recharge by winter and spring rains and heavy snow on the Lebanese ranges

Mixed transport reaction control of gypsum dissolution kinetics in aqueous solutions and initiation of gypsum karst, 1997,
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Raines M. A. , Dewers T. A. ,
Experiments with gypsum in aqueous solutions at 25 degrees C, low ionic strengths, and a range of saturation states indicate a mixed surface reaction and diffusional transport control of gypsum dissolution kinetics. Dissolution rates were determined in a mixed flow/rotating disc reactor operating under steady-state conditions, in which polished gypsum discs were rotated at constant speed and reactant solutions were continuously fed into the reactor. Rates increase with velocity of spin under laminar conditions (low rates of spin), but increase asymptotically to a constant rate as turbulent conditions develop with increasing spin velocity, experiencing a small jump in magnitude across the laminar-turbulent transition. A Linear dependence of rates on the square root of spin velocity in the laminar regime is consistent with rates being limited by transport through a hydrodynamic boundary layer. The increase in rate with onset of turbulence accompanies a near discontinuous drop in hydrodynamic boundary layer thickness across the transition. A relative independence of rates on spinning velocity in the turbulent regime plus a nonlinear dependence of rates on saturation state are factors consistent with surface reaction control. Together these behaviors implicate a 'mixed' transport and reaction control of gypsum dissolution kinetics. A rate law which combines both kinetic mechanisms and can reproduce experimental results under laminar flow conditions is proposed as follows: R = k(t) {1 - Omega(b)() zeta [1 - (1 2(1 - Omega(b)())(1/2)]} where k(t) is the rate coefficient for transport control, and Omega(b)() is the mean ionic saturation state of the bulk fluid. The dimensionless parameter zeta(=Dm(eq)()/2 delta k() where m(eq)() = mean ionic molal equilibrium concentration, D is the diffusion coefficient through the hydrodynamic boundary layer, delta equals the boundary layer thickness and k() is the rate constant for surface reaction control) indicates which process, transport or surface reaction, dominates, and is sensitive to the hydrodynamic conditions in the reactor. For the range of conditions used in our experiments, zeta varies from about 1.4 to 4.5. Rates of gypsum dissolution were also determined in situ in a cavern system in the Permian Blaine Formation, southwestern Oklahoma. Although the flow conditions in the caverns were not determinable, there is good agreement between lab- and field-determined rates in that field rate magnitudes lie within a range of rates determined experimentally under zero to low spin velocities A numerical model coupling fluid flow and gypsum reaction in an idealized circular conduit is used to estimate the distance which undersaturated solutions will travel into small incipient conduits before saturation is achieved. Simulations of conduit wall dissolution showed-member behaviors of conduit formation and surface denudation that depend on flow boundary conditions (constant discharge or constant hydraulic gradient and initial conduit radius. Surface-control of dissolution rates. which becomes more influential with higher fluid flow velocity, has the effect that rate decrease more slowly as saturation is approached than otherwise would occur if rates were controlled by transport alone. This has the effect that reactive solutions can penetrate much farther into gypsum-bearing karst conduits than heretofore thought possible, influencing timing and mechanism of karst development as well as stability of engineered structures above karst terrain

Determination of transmissivity from specific capacity tests in a karst aquifer, 1997,
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Mace R. E. ,
Specific capacity tests are useful for estimating transmissivity in aquifers that have few good-quality pump tests, In karst aquifers, this has been done by (1) correcting specific capacity for turbulent well loss and using analytical relationships between transmissivity and specific capacity, and (2) correcting specific capacity for well loss and deriving an empirical relationship between transmissivity and specific capacity. This study focuses on the uncertainties of estimating well loss and presents an empirical relationship between transmissivity and uncorrected specific capacity for a karst aquifer. Well loss is difficult to estimate without good-quality step-drawdown tests. Pipe-flow theory tends to underestimate well loss, and an empirical relationship between specific capacity and well-loss constant has a large prediction interval that leads to well loss exceeding measured drawdown, To overcome uncertainties of estimating web loss, transmissivity and uncorrected specific capacity were related for aquifer tests from the Edwards aquifer in Texas, The resulting best-fit line is T = 0.76(S-c)(1.08) for T and S-c in m(2) d(-1), with a coefficient of determination, R-2, Of 0.89 and a 95-percent prediction interval spanning approximately 1.4 log cycles, Though the prediction interval is large, approximate but useful estimates of transmissivity can be determined because the relationship extends over five orders of magnitude from 1 to 100,000 m(2) d(-1). The relationship is applicable in at least one other karst aquifer and therefore may be useful for others

Hydrological response of small watersheds following the Southern California Painted Cave Fire of June 1990, 1997,
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Keller E. A. , Valentine D. W. , Gibbs D. R. ,
Following the Painted Cave Fire of 25 June 1990 in Santa Barbara, California which burned 1214 ha, an emergency watershed protection plan was implemented consisting of stream clearing, grade stabilizers and construction of debris basins. Research was initiated focusing on hydrological response and channel morphology changes on two branches of Maria Ygnacio Creek, the main drainage of the burned area. Research results support the hypothesis that the response of small drainage basins in chaparral ecosystems to wildfire is complex and flushing of sediment by fluvial processes is more likely than by high magnitude debris flows. During the winter of 1990-1991, 35-66 cm of rainfall and intensities up to 10 cm per hour for a five-minute period were recorded with a seasonal total of 100% of average (normal) rainfall (average = 63 cm/year). During the winter of 1991-1992, 48-74 cm of rainfall and intensities up to 8 cm per hour were recorded with a seasonal total of 115% of normal. Even though there was moderate rainfall on barren, saturated soils, no major debris flows occurred in burned areas. The winter of 1992-1993 recorded total precipitation of about 170% of normal, annual average intensities were relatively low and again no debris flows were observed. The response to winter storms in the first three years following the fire was a moderate but spectacular flushing of sediment, most of which was derived from the hillslopes upstream of the debris basins. The first significant storm and stream flow of the 1990-1991 winter was transport-limited resulting in large volumes of sediment being deposited in the channel of Maria Ygnacio Creek; the second storm and stream flow was sediment-limited and the channel scoured. Debris basins trapped about 23 000 m(3), the majority coming from the storm of 17-20 March 1991. Sediment transported downstream during the three winters following the fire and not trapped in the debris basins was eventually flushed to the estuarine reaches of the creeks below the burn area, where approximately 108 000 m(3) accumulated. Changes in stream morphology following the fire were dramatic as pools filled with sediment which greatly smoothed longitudinal and cross-sectional profiles. Major changes in channel morphology occur following a fire as sediment derived from the hillslope is temporarily stored in channels within the burned area. However, this sediment may quickly move downstream of the burned region, where it may accumulate reducing channel capacity and increasing the flood hazard. Ecological consequences of wildfire to the riparian zone of streams in the chaparral environment are virtually unknown, but must be significant as the majority of sediment (particularly gravel necessary for fish and other aquatic organisms) entering the system does so in response to fires. (C) 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

One-dimensional springflow model for time variant recharge, 1997,
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Bhar Ak, Mishra Gc,
The linear mathematical model for springflow suggested by Bear (1979) can simulate springflow for an initial instantaneous recharge. A springflow model has been developed, using the Bear model and Duhamel's approach, which can simulate springflow for time variant recharge. The suggested model can also be used to compute the time variant recharge to the springflow domain from a given springflow time series. The inverse problem, which contains linear recharge terms and nonlinear depletion terms, has been solved using the Newton-Raphson method for solving a set of nonlinear equations. The model has been tested to compute recharge for Kirkgoz spring, a first magnitude karst spring in the Mediterranean region of Turkey. The estimated annual recharge computed by the model on a monthly basis compared well with the annual recharge which had been estimated (Korkmaz, 1990) using the Bear model

Magnitude/frequency analysis of cave passage development in the Central Kentucky Karst., 1997,
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Meiman J. , Groves C.

Storm pulses, thresholds, and fluid mechanics in the transport of clastic sediments in limestone aquifers., 1997,
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White W. B. , White E. L.
Active conduit systems carry a flux of water from recharge regions to discharge downstream at karst springs. They also carry a flux of clastic sediments. Transport of clastic sediments is episodic. Sediment piles are moved mainly during extreme floods. Relationships between sediment panicle sizes and stream flow can be used to determine paleoflow characteristics of caves passages from the clastic sediments and also to calculate the magnitude of flood pulses needed to maintain the sediment flux.

Special speleothems in cement-grouting tunnels and their implications of the atmospheric CO2 sink, 1998,
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Liu Z. H. , He D. B. ,
Based on the analyses and comparisons of water chemistry, stable carbon isotopes and deposition rates of speleothems, the authors found that there are two kinds of speleothems in the tunnels at the Wujiangdu Dam site, Guizhou, China, namely the CO2-outgassing type and the CO2-absorbing type. The former is natural, as observed in general karst caves, and the product of karst processes under natural conditions. The latter, however, is special, resulting from the carbonation of a cement-grouting curtain and concrete. Due to the quick absorption of CO2 from the surrounding atmosphere, evidenced by the low CO2 content in the air and the high deposition rate of speleothems (as high as 10 cm/a) in the tunnels, the contribution of the carbonation process to the sink of CO2 in the atmosphere is important tin the order of magnitude of 10(8) tons c/a) and should be taken into consideration in the study of the global carbon cycle because of the use of cement on a worldwide scale

Influence of aperture variability on dissolutional growth of fissures in karst formations, 1998,
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Hanna R. B. , Rajaram H. ,
The influence of aperture variability on dissolutional growth of fissures is investigated on the basis of two-dimensional numerical simulations. The logarithm of the fissure aperture before dissolution begins is modeled as a Gaussian stationary isotropic random field. The initial phase of dissolutional growth is studied up to the time when turbulent flow first occurs at a point within the fissure (the breakthrough time). The breakthrough time in variable aperture fissures is smaller than that in uniform fissures and decreases as the coefficient of variation of the aperture field (sigma/mu) increases. In comparing uniform and variable aperture fissures in limestone, the breakthrough time with sigma/mu = 0.1 is about a factor of 2 smaller than that in a uniform fissure. The breakthrough time is reduced by about an order of magnitude with sigma/mu = 2.0. The mechanism leading to reduced breakthrough times is the focusing of flow into preferential flow channels which are enlarged at a faster rate than the surrounding regions of slower flow. Dissolution channels are narrower and more tortuous as sigma/mu. increases. Investigations of the influence of reaction rate reveal that the influence of aperture variability is more pronounced in rapidly dissolving rock. In uniform fissures in rapidly dissolving minerals, breakthrough times are very long since water becomes saturated with respect to the mineral within a short distance of the entrance to the flow path. However, in variable aperture fissures, breakthrough occurs rapidly because of selective growth along preferential flow channels, which progressively capture larger fractions of the total flow. These results partly explain why conduits develop rapidly in gypsum, although previous one-dimensional studies suggest that conduit growth will not occur

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