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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 isobath is a line of equal depth [16].?

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 equilibrium (Keyword) returned 164 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 16 to 30 of 164
Pseudosinella revisited (Collembola, Entomobryinae), 1988,
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Christiansen Kenneth, Moberg Thomas
Eight controversies are active in the study of macroevolution. These are: 1) the meaning of the term macroevolution, 2) the role of chance, 3) the role of stasis and gradualism, 4) whether significant change Is Iimited to speciation events, 5) the environmental conditions where macroevolutionary change occurs, 6) whether Neodarwinian mechanisms are adequate to explain change, 7) the existence and nature of hierarchical evolutonary processes, and 8) Darwin's views about all this. After a brief examination of each of these issues we used the extensive data available for 9 species of European and Nearctic cave Pseudosinella to examine the third, fourth and fifth controversies mentioned above. Our conclusions are that while we are unable to demonstrate ongoing directional selection, we have clear evidence that significant adaptive change is not limited to speciation events. It does however appear that the amount of adaptive change is greater in the process of speciation than in between. We also show that there is no evidence for clear periods of stasis in the evolution of these forms. This leads us to a new model of the macroevolutionary process combining features of gradualism and punctuated equilibrium. We also showed that evolutionary change Is not associated with unstable environments but rather with more stable ones.

Paleoenvironment and speciation in the cave beetle complex Speonomus delarouzeei (Coleoptera, Bathysciinae), 1988,
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Juberthie Christian
In the eastern part of the Pyrenees (France) the author describes a scenario of speciation in the cave species complex Speonomus delarouzeei (Coleoptera Bathysciinae); the speciation processes have been initiated by a breakdown of the ecological equilibrium induced during three glacial-interglacial episodes. The scenario is the following: during the first glaciation (2.3-2.1 MY), psychrophilic populations ancestral to S. brucki were selected over the highest elevation of the range, by means of cold effect which produced an adaptive demographic advantage; adaptive characters of troglobitic species (K strategy) take place presumably in relation to colonization of caves and M.S.S.; during the second glaciation (1.7-1.3 MY) and a more recent, S. charlottae, latter S. emiliae, diverged from troglobite ancestors of S. brucki without further adaptive characters, as result from stochastic and historical events. M.S.S. generated during erosional period of glacial event provided ways for migration and new niches for colonization. Bottleneck effect in size population of ancestors, founder effect, and colonization by local population which present genetic and behavioural geographical polymorphism, argue for a rapid speciation, presumably 100,000 years long and 50,000 generations in the case of S. emiliae.

Groundwater chemistry and cation budgets of tropical karst outcrops, Peninsular Malaysia, I. Calcium and magnesium, 1989,
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Crowther J,
The discharge and chemical properties of 217 autogenic groundwaters were monitored over a 1-yr period in the tower karsts of central Selangor and the Kinta Valley, and in the Setul Boundary Range. Because of differences in soil PCO2, calcium concentrations are significantly higher in the Boundary Range (mean, 82.5 mg l-1) than in the tower karst terrain (44.6 mg l-1). Local differences in both source area PCO2 and amounts of secondary deposition underground cause marked intersite variability, particularly in the tower karst. Dilution occurs during flood peaks in certain conduit and cave stream waters. Generally, however, calcium correlates positively with discharge, since the amount of secondary deposition per unit volume of water decreases at higher flows. Magnesium concentrations and Mg:Ca Mg ratios of groundwaters are strongly influenced by bedrock composition, though bedrock heterogeneity and the kinetics and equilibria of carbonate dissolution reactions preclude extremely low or high Mg:Ca Mg values. Net chemical denudation rates range from 56.6 to 70.9 m3km2yr-1.The results are considered in relation to cation fluxes in surface runoff, soil throughflow and nutrient cycling. Preliminary calcium and magnesium budgets show that (1) dissolutional activity is largely confined to the near-surface zone; and (2) the annual uptake of calcium and magnesium by tropical limestone forests is similar in magnitude to the net solute output in groundwaters

Sr isotope study of vein and cave calcites from southern Israel, 1990,
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Avigour A, Magaritz M, Issar A, Dodson Mh,
The strontium isotope compositions of secondary calcites from the Negev, southern Israel, were compared to those of the marine carbonate host rocks, which range in age from Triassic to Eocene, in order to understand fluid source and migration through fracture systems in dominantly carbonate strata. The Sr isotopes of these calcite clusters are divided into two groups: (1) calcites with 87Sr/86Sr values greater than those of the host carbonates; and (2) calcites with 87Sr/86Sr values close to the values of the host carbonate. 1. (1) These secondary calcites were found on the main tectonic lines of the Negev (faults and fold axes) and are enriched in 87Sr (87Sr/86Sr = 0.707709-0.709151) relative to the marine carbonate country rocks (87Sr/86Sr = 0.707251-0.70755, with one exception). These calcites are associated or crossed by thin veins filled by Fe- and Mn-oxides.2. (2) Secondary calcites with 87Sr/86Sr values close to those of the marine carbonate country rocks (0.7073-0.7077) are found in karstic caves and veins, and are located in sites which are not on the major faults and fold axes. These calcites are not crossed by Fe- and Mn-oxides.The isotopic results indicate that the solutions from which the secondary minerals of the first group precipitated were not in isotopic equilibrium with the marine host rocks. The possible source of the precipitating solutions can be either surface rain descending through the fault system or ascending groundwaters from the deep Nubian aquifer (Paleozoic to Early Cretaceous in age). In both cases there would be a limited interaction with the host sandstone rock which usually is depleted in Sr. The similarity of the 87Sr/86Sr values to those of the host rocks in the second group suggests that the main source of Sr in these calcite crystals was from the dissolution of the marine carbonate country rocks by rain- and flood waters

Karst hydrogeology of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, PhD Thesis, 1991,
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Worthington, Stephen Richard Hurst

An analysis of the discharge and hydrochemical variations of contrasting springs at Crowsnest Pass showed they were part of a vertical hierarchy in the aquifer, in which underflow and overflow components play a dominant role. It was found that karst springs at Crowsnest Pass and elsewhere show a range between two end members. Thermal springs have long, deep flow paths, with high sulphate concentrations, low discharge variance and low flow velocities. Overflow springs have local shallow flow paths, low sulphate, high discharge variance, and high flow velocities. Intermediate between these end members are underflow springs; in the Rocky Mountains these are mostly aggraded, and give the sustained winter flow and high sulphate concentrations found in major rivers. It was found that underflow or overflow behaviour is able to explain most of the contrasts found between karst springs in discharge and sulphate concentrations. Conversely, differences in bicarbonate concentration are principally due to the ratio of allogenic to autogenic recharge to the aquifer. Hydraulic analysis showed that gradients decrease in the downstream direction, and are typically 0.0001-0.05 at maximum discharges, that friction factors vary by a factor of $>$1000, and that most active conduits have closed-channel flow and are in dynamic equilibrium with sediment supply. The analysis of the hydrological data from Crowsnest Pass and elsewhere has led to the development of a new conceptual model for groundwater flow in karst, in which the Hagen-Poiseuille flow net conditions the aquifer for conduit development, and determines where the conduits will be. The model explains why most conduits are in dynamic equilibrium with sediment supply, why temperate karst springs are mostly vauclusian, what the mean time for speleogenesis is, how $>$98% of the solution of limestone is in the surficial zone, and why there are karstic hot springs in the Rocky Mountains and elsewhere. The model enables predictions to be made of sink to resurgence flow velocities, of conduit depth below the water table, of the ratio of beds to joints used by conduits, of the spacing between cave tiers, and of the depth of vauclusian springs. This new understanding of how karstic aquifers develop and function gives a powerful predictive ability to karst hydrogeology.


KINETIC ENRICHMENT OF STABLE ISOTOPES IN CRYOGENIC CALCITES, 1992,
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Clark Id, Lauriol B,
The C-13 and O-18 contents of cryogenic calcites formed by expulsion during the freezing of bicarbonate groundwaters are examined. Samples from karst caves within the permafrost region of northern Yukon, Canada, have deltaC-13-values as high as 17.0 parts per thousand, representing the most isotopically enriched freshwater carbonates yet reported. To account for such enrichments, calcium bicarbonate solutions were frozen and sublimated under controlled laboratory conditions. The rapid rate of reaction is shown to effectively preclude isotopic equilibration during bicarbonate dehydration, resulting in a kinetic partitioning of C-13 between CO2 and CaCO3. We find a value of 31.2 1.5 parts per thousand for 1000ln13alpha(KIE)(13alpha(KIE) = 1.032), which is considerably greater than the equilibrium fractionation factor (13epsilon(CaCO3-CO2)) of 10.3 parts per thousand at 0-degrees-C. This kinetic isotope effect (KIE) represents the ratio of the absolute reaction rate constants (13k(d)/12k(d)) for the two isotopic species during the dehydration of dissolved bicarbonate. Similar results for deltaO-18-values confirm that the reaction proceeds without isotope exchange. The KIE of O-18 is determined to be 1.006 for this reaction at 0-degrees-C. These data are compared with the KIE which occurs during the reverse reaction: CO2 hydroxylation by reaction with OH- in hyperalkaline waters

DISSOLUTION OF ARAGONITE-STRONTIANITE SOLID-SOLUTIONS IN NONSTOICHIOMETRIC SR(HCO3)2-CA(HCO3)2-CO2-H2O SOLUTIONS, 1992,
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Plummer L. N. , Busenberg E. , Glynn P. D. , Blum A. E. ,
Synthetic strontianite-aragonite solid-solution minerals were dissolved in CO2-saturated nonstoichiometric solutions of Sr(HCO3)2 and Ca(HCO3)2 at 25-degrees-C. The results show that none of the dissolution reactions reach thermodynamic equilibrium. Congruent dissolution in Ca(HCO3)2 solutions either attains or closely approaches stoichiometric saturation with respect to the dissolving solid. In Sr(HCO3)2 solutions the reactions usually become incongruent, precipitating a Sr-rich phase before reaching stoichiometric saturation. Dissolution of mechanical mixtures of solids approaches stoichiometric saturation with respect to the least stable solid in the mixture. Surface uptake from subsaturated bulk solutions was observed in the initial minutes of dissolution. This surficial phase is 0-10 atomic layers thick in Sr(HCO3)2 solutions and 0-4 layers thick in Ca(HCO3)2 solutions, and subsequently dissolves and/or recrystallizes, usually within 6 min of reaction. The initial transient surface precipitation (recrystallization) process is followed by congruent dissolution of the original solid which proceeds to stoichiometric saturation, or until the precipitation of a more stable Sr-rich solid. The compositions of secondary precipitates do not correspond to thermodynamic equilibrium or stoichiometric saturation states. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) measurements indicate the formation of solid solutions on surfaces of aragonite and strontianite single crystals immersed in Sr(HCO3)2 and Ca(HCO3)2 solutions, respectively. In Sr(HCO3)2 solutions, the XPS signal from the outer approximately 60 angstrom on aragonite indicates a composition of 16 mol% SrCO3 after only 2 min of contact, and 14-18 mol% SrCO3 after 3 weeks of contact. The strontianite surface averages approximately 22 mol% CaCO3 after 2 min of contact with Ca(HCO3)2 solution, and is 34-39 mol% CaCO3 after 3 weeks of contact. XPS analysis suggests the surface composition is zoned with somewhat greater enrichment in the outer approximately 25 angstrom (as much as 26 mol% SrCO3 on aragonite and 44 mol% CaCO3 on strontianite). The results indicate rapid formation of a solid-solution surface phase from subsaturated aqueous solutions. The surface phase continually adjusts in composition in response to changes in composition of the bulk fluid as net dissolution proceeds. Dissolution rates of the endmembers are greatly reduced in nonstoichiometric solutions relative to dissolution rates observed in stoichiometric solutions. All solids dissolve more slowly in solutions spiked with the least soluble component ((Sr(HCO3)2) than in solutions spiked with the more soluble component (Ca(HCO3)2), an effect that becomes increasingly significant as stoichiometric saturation is approached. It is proposed that the formation of a nonstoichiometric surface reactive zone significantly decreases dissolution rates

A High-Resolution Record of Holocene Climate Change in Speleothem Calcite from Cold Water Cave, Northeast Iowa, 1992,
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Dorale Ja, Gonzalez La, Reagan Mk, Pickett Da, Murrell Mt, Baker Rg,
High-precision uranium-thorium mass spectrometric chronology and 18O-13C isotopic analysis of speleothem calcite from Cold Water Cave in northeast Iowa have been used to chart mid-Holocene climate change. Significant shifts in [dagger]18O and [dagger]13C isotopic values coincide with well-documented Holocene vegetation changes. Temperature estimates based on 18O/16O ratios suggest that the climate warmed rapidly by about 3{degrees}C at 5900 years before present and then cooled by 4{degrees}C at 3600 years before present. Initiation of a gradual increase in [dagger]13C at 5900 years before present suggests that turnover of the forest soil biomass was slow and that equilibrium with prairie vegetation was not attained by 3600 years before present

MATHEMATICAL-MODELING OF CATCHMENT MORPHOLOGY IN THE KARST OF GUIZHOU, CHINA, 1992,
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Ming T. ,
This paper establishes statistical relationships describing the morphology of three contrasting drainage areas in the karst plateau of Guizhou. A landscape model proposed takes as its basis a two-tiered morphology: an upper tier of peaks and cols which maintains a dynamic equilibrium; and a lower tier defined by depression or valley bases which can evolve differentially in time and space. Thus equilibrium and evolutionary processes coexist in this type of karst landscape within the same timespan. The evlution of subcatchments is shown to be not necessarily the same as that of the total catchment because of tectonic factors

Uranium-series Disequilibrium: Applications to Earth, Marine Environmental Sciences, 1992,
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Ivanovich M. , Harmon R. S.

Approche thorique _simplifie de la dissolution karstique, 1994,
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Gombert, P.
The specific behaviour of karsts makes the estimation of karstic denudation very difficult: discharge and water chemical variabili-ties are in fact major characteristics of aquifer karstic systems and cannot be properly estimated by the way of random sampling. The classical empirical methods provide generally high relative errors due to the bad knowledge of the hydrogeological catchment basin and even of the total number of springs. In the case of CORBEL's or WILLIAM's empirical formulas, average relative error can be estimated to about 100 % for a normally known aquifer karstic system : therefore it is impossible to compare different karsts that have not been studied with the same accuracy. The theoretical statisti-cal relationships between karstic denu-dation and a single climatic parameter (rainfall) are open to criticism: main authors tell that effective rainfall and pedological C02 are essential parame-ters of karstic denudation, which are never taken into account. For example, there are different PULINA's formula for different climatic types indicating that it is necessary to use another climatic parameter different from rain-fall! Moreover this way of modelling the data restrains the statistical repre-sentativity of each formula and intro-duces a difficult choice for karsts, which are at the border of two climatic types (or with mountainous parts). Another problem is the case of polar countries karsts where most precipitation is snowy and does not participate in karstic denudation. Therefore a mathematical modelling of carbonate dissolution is shown, based on infiltra-tion rate calculation and knowledge of calco-carbonic equilibrium. Temperature and rainfall are taken into account to determine the efficient part of precipitation, the productivity of pedogenetic C02 and the carbonate solubility constants. This theoretical approach gives the same results but with relative errors under 50 %. Consequently it is easy to compare different karstic countries in the world: hot and wet climates are confirmed to have the main karstogenetic activity but the role of cold countries is rehabilita-ted. Then paleokarstic denudation can be estimated.

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

Palaeosecular variation observed in speleothems from western China and northern Spain, PhD thesis, 1996,
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Openshaw, S. J.

This study has produced records of the palaeosecular variation (PSV) of the earth's magnetic field from Speleothems from China and Spain. The ultimate aim of this project was to produce contemporaneous PSV records which would show that Speleothems accurately record ambient geomagnetic field behaviour. From Sichuan Province, China, five Speleothems were collected of which four were studied for their records of PSV. Eight Spanish Speleothems from the Cantabrian coast were collected but their weak magnetisation allowed only one record of PSV to be produced.
All speleothem sub-samples were weakly magnetised and had, on average, initial intensities of <100 x 10-8 Am2kg-1. Despite this, the majority of sub-samples were stable during stepwise alternating-field and thermal demagnetisation and each displayed a single component of magnetisation after removal of any secondary overprints. Rock magnetic experiments were hampered by low mineral concentrations but suggested that the remanences of each speleothem were carried by a mixture of multi and single-domain (titano-) magnetite and also by haematite present in significant quantities. The primary method of remanence acquisition appeared to be a depositional remanence sourced from flooding. This was corroborated by a linear relationship between sub-sample intensities and weight % acid insoluble detritus.
A selection of sub-samples from each speleothem were dated using uranium-thorium disequilibrium and alpha spectrometry. For the majority of sub-samples the low concentrations of uranium, high levels of detrital contamination and initially low chemical yields raised the associated dating inaccuracies above the quoted level for alpha spectrometry of 5-10%. Two Spanish Speleothems had high uranium concentrations and little, or no, detrital contamination. Percent age errors of these Speleothems ranged from 1 to 6%. Comprehensive experiments on the efficiencies of three electrodeposition methods were also undertaken. The most efficient method was found to be a modified version of the Hallstadius method (Hallstadius, 1984), which consistently achieved chemical yields between 40 and 90% for uranium and thorium.
In order to correct more analytically for the presence of detrital contamination, the leachate/leachate method of Schwarcz and Latham (1989) was tested. The maximum likelihood estimation data treatment technique (Ludwig and Titterington, 1994) was used to calculate dates from these analyses. Tests on Mexican speleothem SSJ2 gave excellent results allowing a revised dating scheme to be adopted. Tests on some sub-samples from Chinese Speleothems were generally unsuccessful due to analytical errors.
The isotope 210Pb was used to date the top surface of one speleothem. A constant growth rate was inferred which was significantly less than that calculated from the 230Th - 234U dating method. This was thought to be due to the former techniques inability to resolve growth rates of periods of less than 200 years.
Despite the dating errors associated with each speleothem the records of PSV compare well with each other and with contemporaneous records from China, Japan and also the UK (for the Spanish record). In addition. agreement with PSV data modelled from observatory records suggested that westward drift of the non-dipole geomagnetic field was predominant during the past 10ka.


Dedolomitization as a driving mechanism for karst generation in Permian Blaine formation, southwestern Oklahoma, USA, 1997,
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Raines M. A. , Dewers T. A. ,
Cyclic deposits of Permian shales, dolomites, and halite and gypsum-bearing strata in the Blaine Formation of Southwestern Oklahoma contain abundant karst features. The present study shows that an important mechanism of karst development in these sequences is dedolomitization, wherein gypsum and dolomite in close spatial proximity dissolve and supersaturate groundwaters with respect to calcite. The net loss of mass accompanying this process (dolomite and gypsum dissolution minus calcite precipitation) can be manifest in secondary porosity development while the coupled nature of this set of reactions results in the retention of undersaturated conditions of groundwater with respect to gypsum. The continued disequilibrium generates karst voids in gypsum-bearing aquifers, a mineral-water system that would otherwise rapidly equilibrate. Geochemical modeling (using the code PHRQPITZ, Plummer et al 1988) of groundwater chemical data from Southwestern Oklahoma from the 1950's up to the present suggests that dedolomitization has occurred throughout this time period in evaporite sequences in Southwestern Oklahoma. Reports from groundwater well logs in the region of vein calcite suggest secondary precipitation, an observation in accord with dedolomite formation In terms of the amounts of void space produced by dissolution, dedolomitization can dominate gypsum dissolution alone, especially in periods of quiescent aquifer recharge when gypsum-water systems would have otherwise equilibrated and karst development ceased. Mass balance modeling plus molar volume considerations show that for every cubic cm of original rock (dolomite plus gypsum), there is 0.54 cm(3) of calcite and 0.47 cm(3) of void space produced Only slightly more pore space results if the dedolomitization reaction proceeds by psuedomorphic replacement of dolomite by calcite than in a reaction mechanism based on conservation of bicarbonate

Elevated and variable values of 13C in speleothems in a British cave system, 1997,
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Baker A, Ito E, Smart Pl, Mcewan Rf,
[delta] 13C isotope variations in speleothems have been investigated for samples from the British Isles, where plants which use the Hatch-Slack or C4 photosynthetic pathway are not present. The range of [delta] 13C expected in speleothem carbonate formed in isotopic equilibrium with soil CO2 derived from the overlying C3 vegetation should thus fall in the range -12 to -6[per mille sign]. Forty-one actively growing speleothem samples from low-discharge sites were analysed from Stump Cross Caverns, Yorkshire, England. Ten percent have [delta] 13C greater than -6%. In addition, a large range of [delta] 13C was observed (-8.06 1.38[per mille sign], a 1 [sigma] variability of 17%), with adjacent samples having [delta] 13C differing by a maximum of 4.74[per mille sign]. Similar findings were obtained from a review of analyses of late Quaternary speleothem samples from the British Isles, with 75% of flowstone samples and 57% of high-flow stalagmite samples exhibiting elevated [delta] 13C. Three possible processes are proposed as possible causes of elevated [delta] 13C in speleothems. Firstly, fractionation may occur between the stalactite and stalagmite due to evaporation or degassing. Secondly, degassing of the groundwaters may have occurred within the aquifer before reaching the cave void, allowing release of some CO2 from the water whilst remaining saturated in calcium. Finally, the elevated [delta] 13C may be due to short water residence times in the soil, such that equilibrium between soil water and soil CO2 is not reached. Evidence presented here demonstrates that any one of these mechanisms may be important in the karst areas of the British Isles. Caution is needed before interpreting the [delta] 13C signal within speleothems in terms of palaeovegetation

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