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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 argillaceous limestone is limestone containing considerable amounts of clay [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.
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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 frasassi cave (Keyword) returned 24 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 16 to 24 of 24
Productivity-Diversity Relationships from Chemolithoautotrophically Based Sulfidic Karst Systems, 2009, Porter M. L. , Summers Engel A. , Kane T. C. , Kinkle B. K.

Although ecosystems thriving in the absence of photosynthetic processes are no longer considered unique phenomena, we have yet to understand how these ecosystems are energetically sustained via chemosynthesis. Ecosystem energetics were measured in microbial mats from active sulfidic caves (Movile Cave, Romania; Frasassi Caves, Italy; Lower Kane Cave, Wyoming, USA; and Cesspool Cave, Virginia, USA) using radiotracer techniques. We also estimated bacterial diversity using 16S rRNA sequences to relate the productivity measurements to the composition of the microbial communities. All of the microbial communities investigated were dominated by chemolithoautotrophic productivity, with the highest rates from Movile Cave at 281 g C/m2/yr. Heterotrophic productivities were at least one order of magnitude less than autotrophy from all of the caves. We generated 414 new 16S rRNA gene sequences that represented 173 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) with 99% sequence similarity. Although 13% of these OTUs were found in more than one cave, the compositions of each community were significantly different from each other (P≤0.001). Autotrophic productivity was positively correlated with overall species richness and with the number of bacterial OTUs affiliated with the Epsilonproteobacteria, a group known for sulfur cycling and chemolithoautotrophy. Higher rates of autotrophy were also strongly positively correlated to available metabolic energy sources, and specifically to dissolved sulfide concentrations. The relationship of autotrophic productivity and heterotrophic cycling rates to bacterial species richness can significantly impact the diversity of higher trophic levels in chemolithoautotrophically-based cave ecosystems, with the systems possessing the highest productivity supporting abundant and diverse macro-invertebrate communities.

Community Structure of Subsurface Biofilms in the Thermal Sulfidic Caves of Acquasanta Terme, Italy, 2010, Jones D. S. , Tobler D. J. , Schaperdoth I. , Mainiero M. , Macalady J. L.

We performed a microbial community analysis of biofilms inhabiting thermal (35 to 50°C) waters more than 60m below the ground surface near Acquasanta Terme, Italy. The groundwater hosting the biofilms has 400 to 830 mkM sulfide, <10 mkM O2, pH of 6.3 to 6.7, and specific conductivity of 8,500 to 10,500 mkS/cm. Based on the results of 16S rRNA gene cloning and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), the biofilms have low species richness, and lithoautotrophic (or possibly mixotrophic) Gamma- and Epsilonproteobacteria are the principle biofilm architects. Deltaproteobacteria sequences retrieved from the biofilms have <90% 16S rRNA similarity to their closest relatives in public databases and may represent novel sulfate-reducing bacteria. The Acquasanta biofilms share few species in common with Frasassi cave biofilms (13°C, 80 km distant) but have a similar community structure, with representatives in the same major clades. The ecological success of Sulfurovumales-group Epsilonproteobacteria in the Acquasanta biofilms is consistent with previous observations of their dominance in sulfidic cave waters with turbulent water flow and high dissolved sulfide/oxygen ratios.

Sulfuric Acid Caves, 2012, Palmer A, Hill C.

Most caves owe their origin to carbonic acid generated in the soil. In contrast, sulfuric acid caves are produced by the oxidation of sulfides beneath the surface. Although sulfuric acid caves are relatively few, they include some large and well-known examples, such as Carlsbad Cavern, New Mexico. They also provide evidence for a variety of deep-seated processes that are important to petroleum geology, ore geology, tectonic history, and the nascent field of karst geomicrobiology.

Corrosion of limestone tablets in sulfidic ground-water: measurements and speleogenetic implications, 2012, Galdenzi, Sandro

The measurement of the weight loss in limestone tablets placed in the Grotta del Fiume (Frasassi, Italy) provided data on the rate of limestone dissolution due to the sulfidic water and on the influence of local environmental conditions.

A linear average corrosion rate of 24 mm ka-1 was measured in stagnant water, while the values were higher (68-119 mm ka-1) where the hydrologic conditions facilitate water movement and gas exchanges. In these zones the increase in water aggressivity is due to mixing with descending, O2-rich, seepage water and is also favored by easier gas exchange between ground-water and the cave atmosphere. Very intense corrosion was due to weakly turbulent flow, which caused evident changes in the tablets shape in few months.

A comparison between the measured corrosion rates and the cave features showed that the values measured in the pools with stagnant water are too low to account for the largest solutional cave development, while the average values measured in the zones with moving water are compatible with the dimension of the cave rooms in the main cave levels, that must have developed when the base level was stable and hydrologic conditions favored the increase of water aggressivity.

Ostracod Assemblages in the Frasassi Caves and Adjacent Sulfidic Spring and Sentino River in the Northeastern Apennines of Italy, 2013, Peterson D. E. , Finger K. L. , Iepure S. , Mariani S. , Montanari A. , Namiotko T.

Rich, diverse assemblages comprising a total (live + dead) of twenty-one ostracod species belonging to fifteen genera were recovered from phreatic waters of the hypogenic Frasassi Cave system and the adjacent Frasassi sulfidic spring and Sentino River in the Marche region of the northeastern Apennines of Italy. Specimens were recovered from ten sites, eight of which were in the phreatic waters of the cave system and sampled at different times of the year over a period of five years. Approximately 6900 specimens were recovered, the vast majority of which were disarticulated valves; live ostracods were also collected. The most abundant species in the sulfidic spring and Sentino River were Prionocypris zenkeri, Herpetocypris chevreuxi, and Cypridopsis vidua, while the phreatic waters of the cave system were dominated by two putatively new stygobitic species of Mixtacandona and Pseudolimnocythere and a species that was also abundant in the sulfidic spring, Fabaeformiscandona ex gr. F. fabaeformis.
Pseudocandona ex gr. P. eremita, likely another new stygobitic species, is recorded for
the first time in Italy. The relatively high diversity of the ostracod assemblages at Frasassi
could be attributed to the heterogeneity of groundwater and associated habitats or to
niche partitioning promoted by the creation of a chemoautotrophic ecosystem based on
sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Other possible factors are the geologic age and hydrologic
conditions of the cave and karst aquifer system that possibly originated in the early–
middle Pleistocene when topographic uplift and incision enabled deep sulfidic waters to
reach the local carbonate aquifer. Flooding or active migration would have introduced
the invertebrates that now inhabit the Frasassi Cave system

Exploring the sulfide tolerance of ectosymbiotic Niphargus amphipods from the Frasassi caves, central Italy, 2013, Bauermeister J. , Assig K. , Dattagupta S.

Two species of the crustacean amphipod genus Niphargus inhabit the sulfidic groundwaters of the Frasassi caves in central Italy, and both harbor filamentous, sulfide-oxidizing Thiothrix ectosymbionts. As sulfide is toxic to most aerobic organisms, it appeared possible that the ectosymbionts could help their Niphargus hosts with detoxification processes. In this study, mortality due to sulfide was compared between Niphargus individuals with ectosymbionts and individuals whose ectosymbionts had been killed by antibiotic treatment. Both Frasassi- dwelling Niphargus species revealed exceptionally high tolerances to sulfide compared to other amphipod species studied so far. Niphargus individuals without viable ectosymbionts tolerated sulfide levels exceeding those occurring in Frasassi cave waters. Thus, the amphipods may employ Thiothrix-independent mechanisms for sulfide resistance.



Hypogean speleogenesis is the main cave formation process in the Frasassi area. The carbon flux represents an important proxy for the evalution of the different speleogenetic processes. The main sources of CO2 in the underground karst system are related to endogenic fluid emissions due to crustal regional degassing. Another important CO2 source is hydrogen sulfide oxidation. A small amount of CO2 is also contributed by visitors to the parts of the cave open to the public.


The condensation of acidic waters on subaerial carbonate surfaces (condensation corrosion) can be an important speleogenetic agent under certain conditions (Cigna and Forti, 1986; Sarbu and Lascu, 1997). Specific morphologies associated with condensation corrosion include notches, niches, cupolas, megascallops and domes (Audra, 2009), and have been recognized in many caves from different regions of the world and from different geologic settings. Condensation corrosion can be particularly important in thermal caves, where temperature differences facilitate air convection and water condensation, as well as in sulphidic caves, where degassing and subsequent oxidation of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) gas provides a ready source of acidity to the subaerial cave environment.
In pioneering studies on the formation of sulphidic caves, condensation corrosion via H2S degassing and oxidation to sulphuric acid was considered the primary mechanism for speleogenesis (Principi, 1931; Egemeier, 1981). However, recent research has cast doubt on the importance of subaerial H2S oxidation for sulphidic cave formation (Engel et al., 2004). In the Frasassi cave system, Italy, morphological evidence for both subaerial and subaqueous limestone dissolution has been extensively documented (Galdenzi, 1990; Galdenzi and Maruoka, 2003). In particular, corrosion above the water table has resulted in the formation of massive gypsum deposits as well as specific passage morphologies. Measured rates by Galdenzi et al. (1997) corroborated morphological evidence that condensation corrosion is important at least under certain conditions. Therefore, in order to better define the role of subaerial processes in the Frasassi cave system, we quantified sulphide flux to the cave atmosphere in the modern cave environment, and documented morphological evidence for subaerial corrosion in the past


The classical epigene speleogenetic model in which CO2 is considered the main source of acidity has been challenged over the last three decades by observations that revealed cave passages unrelated to groundwater drainage routes and surface topography. Most of these passages show unusual morphologies, such are cupolas, floor feeders (i.e., inlets for deep-seated fluids), and huge irregular-shaped rooms that terminate abruptly, and often a rich and diverse mineral association. A hypogenetic speleogenetic pathway was proposed for this group of caves.
The presence of abundant gypsum deposits in caves with one or more of the passage morphologies listed above, have prompted scientists to suggest a new theory (i.e., sulfuric acid speleogenesis, SAS) of cave development. In the hypogenic SAS model, the source of acidity is the sulfuric acid produced by oxidation of H2S (originating from sulfate reduction or petroleum reservoirs) near or at the water table, where it dissolves the limestone bedrock and precipitates extensive gypsum deposits. SAS is now thoroughly documented from numerous caves around the world, with the best examples coming from the Guadalupe Mountains (NM), Frasassi caves (Italy), selected caves in France, Cueva de Villa Luz (Mexico), and Cerna Valley (SW Romania).
To date, discrimination between epigene and hypogene speleogenetic pathways is made using cave morphology criteria, exotic mineral assemblages, and the predominantly negative δ34S values for the cave sulfates. This presentation highlights the role sulfur and oxygen stable isotope analyses have in discriminating between epigene and hypogene caves.
Based on a number of case studies in caves of the Cerna Valley (Romania), we found that relatively S-depleted isotopic composition of cave minerals alone does not provide enough information to clearly distinguish SAS from other complex speleogenetic pathways. In fact, δ34S values of SAS by-products depend not only on the source of the S, but also on the completeness of S redox reactions. Therefore, similar studies to this are needed to precisely diagnose SAS and to provide information on the S cycle in a given karst system.
Integrating cave mineralogy, passage morphology, and geochemical studies may shed light on the interpretation of polygenetic caves, offering clues to processes, mechanisms, and parameters involved in their genesis (sulfate-dominated).

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