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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 Horton number is expresses the relative intensity of erosion process in a drainage basin [16].?

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


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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 clay (Keyword) returned 224 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 211 to 224 of 224
Occurrence of diagenetic alunites within karst cavity infill of the Dammam Formation, Ahmadi, Kuwait: an indicator of hydrocarbon gas seeps, 2014,
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Khalaf F. I. , Abdullah F. A.

Alunite minerals occur as white powdery lumps and laminated coloured deposits within cavity and solution channel infill of the palaeokarst zone of the Upper Eocene Dammam Formation. This formation is exposed in a quarry located on the Al Ahmadi ridge within the Greater Burgan oil field in southern Kuwait. Field occurrences and sedimentary structures of the alunite deposits were described. Collected samples were petrographically described, and their mineralogy and geochemistry were determined using X-ray diffraction and X-ray fluorescence, respectively. Microfabrics were investigated using SEM, revealing that they are primarily composed of fibrous alunogen (hydrous aluminium sulphate) and pseudo-cubical K-alunite (hydrous potassium aluminium sulphate). Their mode of occurrence suggests a hypogenetic origin, where sulphide gases associated with hydrocarbon gases reacted with an Al-rich solution leached from clay minerals and feldspars of the cavity-fill muddy sand sediments. The hydrocarbon gases may have seeped from subsurface petroliferous formations within the Greater Burgan oil field along vertical fractures. This study suggests that these acidic seeps may have played a role in the development of the palaeokarst zone of the Dammam Formation


Paleoflood events recorded by speleothems in caves, 2014,
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Gazquez F. , Calaforra J. M. , Forti P. , Stoll H. , Ghaleb B. , Delgadohuertas A.

Speleothems are usually composed of thin layers of calcite (or aragonite). However,
cemented detrital materials interlayered between laminae of speleothemic carbonate have been also observed in many caves. Flowstones comprising discontinuous carbonate layers form due to flowing water films,while flood events introduce fluviokarstic sediments in caves that, on occasion,are recorded as clayey layers inside flowstones and stalagmites. This record provides a potential means of understand­ing the frequency of palaeofloods using cave records.In this work,we investigate the origin of this type of detritaldeposit in El Soplao Cave (Northern Spain). The age of the lowest aragonite layer
of a flowstone reveals that the earliest flood period occurred before 500 ka, though most of the flowstone formed between 422 +69/-43 ka and 400 +66/-42 ka. This suggests that the cave was periodically affected by palaeoflood events that introduced detrital sediments from the surface as a result of occasional extreme rainfall events,especially at around 400 ka.The mineralogical data enable an evolutionary modelfor this flowstone to be generated based on the alternation offload events with laminar flows and carbonate layers precipitation that can be extrapolated to other caves in which detrital sediments inside speleothems have been found. 


Linking mineral deposits to speleogenetic processes in Cova des Pas de Vallgornera (Mallorca, Spain)., 2014,
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Onac B. P. , Fornós J. J. , Merino A. , Ginés J. , Diehl J.

Cova des Pas de Vallgornera (CPV) is the premier cave of the Balearic Archipelago. Over 74 km of passages develop within two carbonate lithofacies (reef front and back reef), which ultimately control the patterns of the cave and to some degree its mineral infilling. The diversity of speleothem-forming minerals is four times greater around or within hypogene-related features (vents, rims, cupolas), compared to any other vadose passages in the cave. The mineralogy of speleothems (crusts, nodules, crystals, earthy masses) associated with hypogene features in the seaward upper maze of Sector F is characterized by the presence of aragonite, ankerite, huntite, clay minerals, and quartz. In the Tragus and Nord sectors, however, the dominant mineral is dolomite, along with aragonite, celestine, huntite, clay minerals, and quartz. Calcite is by far the most ubiquitous mineral throughout the cave. Detailed macroscopic and scanning electron microanalysis and imaging have permitted the investigation of textural relationships between the minerals associated with vents, rims, and vent’s roof and walls. These studies along with morphological and stable isotope analyses confirm that not all minerals are connected with a hypogene stage in the cave evolution, and furthermore, none of them appears to be sulfuric acid by-products. Instead, the mineral assemblages documented in speleothems from CPV clearly support at least three speleogenetic pathways, namely seacoast mixing, ascending of warm groundwaters, and meteoric recharge (vadose). Thus, cave minerals in Cova des Pas de Vallgornera hold the keys to reconstruction and understanding of processes and conditions under which they precipitated, allowing to establish their relationship with various speleogenetic pathways


Cave deposits and sedimentary processes in Cova des Pas de Vallgornera (Mallorca, Western Mediterranean), 2014,
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Fornós J. J. , Ginés J. , Gràcia F. , Merino A. , Gómezpujol L. , Bover P.

The Cova des Pas de Vallgornera is an important and protected coastal cave, located in the southern part of the island of Mallorca, that outstands due to its length and the complex processes involved in its speleogenesis. Although sediments are not the main topic of interest, their presence as well as their paleontological contents are valuable evidence for paleoclimatic and chronological reconstructions of the cave morphogenesis. The sedimentary infilling is characterized by a scarce presence of clastic sedimentation, mainly composed of silts and clays, which can only be found at some minor passages in the innermost parts of the cave. It corresponds to a clayey sedimentation mainly derived from the soil infiltration that can be found mixed with carbonate particles detached from the cave walls. A particularly different situation occurs in the northernmost end of the cave where an important sequence of silty sands are present, hosting a very rich paleontological deposit. The objective of this paper is to describe the detrital deposits present in the cave by means of the integration of sedimentological, chemical, and mineralogical data, which will aim to provide a better understanding of the processes that have occurred during the system’s speleogenetic evolution.


The mineralogical study of the Grotta Inferiore di Sant’Angelo (southern Italy), 2014,
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Catalano M. , Bloise A. , Miriello D. , Apollaro C. , Critelli T. , Muto F. , Cazzanelli E. , Barrese E.

In the present work, thirteen samples collected from the Grotta Inferiore di Sant’Angelo near the town of Cassano allo Jonio (Calabria region, southern Italy) were analyzed for their mineralogy. The Grotta Inferiore di Sant’Angelo is made up of subhorizontal, interlinked galleries between 400 and 450 meters above sea level. The floor is littered with deposits such as bat-guano, gypsum, and many speleothems that also cover the walls. The samples were identified and characterized by X-ray powder diffraction, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectrometer, microthermometry, and micro-Raman spectroscopy. The ten primary minerals identified in this study belong to six different groups: carbonate, sulfate, apatite, oxide and hydroxide, halide, and silicate. Clay minerals and eight other detrital minerals were also found: enstatite, rutile, magnesite, pyrite, chrysotile, quartz, dolomite, and chlorite. Characterization of cave minerals could be useful to improve the knowledge of the relation between them and the lithology of the host rocks


Sagging and collapse sinkholes over hypogenic hydrothermal karst in а carbonate terrain, 2014,
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Frumkin A. , Zaidner Y. , Na'aman I. , Tsatskin A. , Porat N. , Vulfson L.

We show that clusters of karst sinkholes can occur on carbonate hypogene karst terrains. Unlike common doline karst of dissolution origin, the studied sinkholes form mainly by sagging and collapse. Thermal survey, OSL dating and morphologic analysis during quarrying and excavations are applied to study the sinkholes at the Ayyalon karst, Israel. The thermal survey shows the spatial pattern of rising warm water plumes, whose temperature is > 2 °C warmer than the surrounding aquifer water. These plumes dissolve the limestone, creating large voids and maze caves. Mass wasting forms surface sinkholes mainly by sagging and collapse. Both types of deformation often occur within the same depression. Lack of hydrologic connection between the surface and underground voids constrain drainage and promote rapid accumulation of colluvium, dust and pedogenic clays. These have filled the sinkholes up to their rim before the late Holocene. OSL dating constrains the rate of sediment accumulation within the sinkholes. The average filling rate (thickness divided by elapsed time) is ~ 47 mm ka− 1 for the last 53 ± 4 ka in Sinkhole 1, while in Sinkhole 2 (“Nesher Ramla karst depression”), the rate is ~ 61 mm ka− 1 from ~ 200 to 78 ka, and ~ 173 mm ka− 1 since ~ 78 ka. Between ~ 170 and 78 ka, Sinkhole 2 was intensively used by Middle Paleolithic hominins. The studied sinkholes may be considered as a type locality for hypogene sinkhole terrain on carbonate rocks.


Clay cortex in epikarst forms as an indicator of age and morphogenesis—case studies from Lublin–Volhynia chalkland (East Poland,West Ukraine), 2014,
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Clay cortex from the contact zone between the host rock (chalk) and infilling deposits were examined in

paleokarst forms (pockets, pipes, and dolines of different age) from the Lublin–Volhynia chalk karst region. In light of the sedimentological and micromorphological analyses, it seems possible to work out a model as the basis for genetic and stratigraphic discussions. (1) Dolineswith the Paleogene orNeogene mineral infills are characterized by (a) homogeneous, residual type of massive clay gradually passing into the chalkmonolith, and at the sametime(b) relatively thickweathered zone. (2) Pipeswith glacigenic mineral infill fromthe Saalian Glacial are characterized by (a) sharp contact between host rock and clay, (b) narrow weathering zone of chalk, (c) diffuse nature of the contact zone between residual clay and mineral infill, and (d) contamination of clay by clastic material. (3) Pocketswith glacigenic mineral infill and traces of theWeichselian periglacial transformation are characterized by (a) strong contamination of chalk by quartz grains, (b) diffuse transition between clay and infill: fromclayey matrixwith single quartz grains (at the contactwith chalk) to clayey coatings and intergranular bridges (in the infill), (c) intensive weathering (cracking) of mineral grains in the infill.


Occurrence of diagenetic alunites within karst cavity infill of the Dammam Formation, Ahmadi, Kuwait: an indicator of hydrocarbon gas seeps, 2014,
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Alunite minerals occur as white powdery lumps  and laminated coloured deposits within cavity and solution  channel infill of the palaeokarst zone of the Upper Eocene  Dammam Formation. This formation is exposed in a quarry  located on the Al Ahmadi ridge within the Greater Burgan oil  field in southern Kuwait. Field occurrences and sedimentary  structures of the alunite deposits were described. Collected  samples were petrographically described, and their mineralogy  and geochemistry were determined using X-ray diffraction  and X-ray fluorescence, respectively. Microfabrics were investigated  using SEM, revealing that they are primarily composed  of fibrous alunogen (hydrous aluminium sulphate) and  pseudo-cubical K-alunite (hydrous potassium aluminium sulphate).  Their mode of occurrence suggests a hypogenetic  origin, where sulphide gases associated with hydrocarbon  gases reacted with an Al-rich solution leached from clay  minerals and feldspars of the cavity-fill muddy sand sediments.  The hydrocarbon gases may have seeped from subsurface  petroliferous formations within the Greater Burgan oil  field along vertical fractures. This study suggests that these  acidic seeps may have played a role in the development of the  palaeokarst zone of the Dammam Formation.


Hypogene Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis and rare sulfate minerals in Baume Galini`ere Cave (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France). Record of uplift, correlative cover retreat and valley dissection, 2015,
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Audra Philippe, Gґazquez Fernando, Rull Fernando, Bigot Jeanyves, Camus Hubert

The oxidation of hydrocarbons and sulfide sources (H2S, pyrite) produces sulfuric acid that strongly reacts with bedrock, causing limestone dissolution and complex interactions with other minerals from the bedrock or from cave fillings, mainly clays. This type of cave development, known as Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), is a subcategory of hypogene speleogenesis, where aggressive water rises from depth. It also produces uncommon minerals, mainly sulfates, the typical byproducts of SAS. Baume Galinière is located in Southern France, in the Vaucluse spring watershed. This small maze cave displays characteristic SAS features such as corrosion notches, calcite geodes, iron crusts, and various sulfate minerals. Sulfur isotopes of SAS byproducts (jarosite and gypsum) clearly show they derive from pyrite oxidation. Using XRD and micro-Raman spectroscopy, thirteen minerals were identified, including elemental sulfur, calcite, quartz, pyrite, goethite, gypsum, fibroferrite, plus all of the six members of the jarosite subgroup (jarosite, argentojarosite, ammoniojarosite, hydroniumjarosite, natrojarosite, plumbojarosite). The Baume Galinière deposits are the first documented cave occurrence of argentojarosite and the second known occurrence of plumbojarosite, hydronium jarosite, ammoniojarosite, and fibroferrite. In the Vaucluse watershed, there were numerous upwellings of deep water along major faults, located at the contact of the karstic aquifer and the overlying impervious covers. The mixing of deep and meteoric waters at shallow depths caused pyrite depositions in numerous caves, including Baume Galinière. Sulfuric acid speleogenesis occurred later after base-level drop, when the cave was under shallow phreatic conditions then in the vadose zone, with oxidation of pyrites generating sulfuric acid. Attenuated oxidation is still occurring through condensation of moisture from incoming air. Baume Galinière Cave records the position of the semi-impervious paleo-cover and documents its retreat in relationship to valley incision caused by uplift and tilting of the Vaucluse block during the Neogene.


Hypogene Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis and rare sulfate minerals in Baume Galinière Cave (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France). Record .., 2015,
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Audra P. , Gázquez F. , Rull F. , Bigot J. Y. , Camus H.

The oxidation of hydrocarbons and sulfide sources (H2S, pyrite) produces sulfuric acid that strongly reacts with bedrock, causing limestone dissolution and complex interactions with other minerals from the bedrock or from cave fillings, mainly clays. This type of cave development, known as Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), is a subcategory of hypogene speleogenesis, where aggressive water rises from depth. It also produces uncommon minerals, mainly sulfates, the typical byproducts of SAS. Baume Galinière is located in Southern France, in the Vaucluse spring watershed. This small maze cave displays characteristic SAS features such as corrosion notches, calcite geodes, iron crusts, and various sulfate minerals. Sulfur isotopes of SAS byproducts (jarosite and gypsum) clearly show they derive from pyrite oxidation. Using XRD and micro-Raman spectroscopy, thirteen minerals were identified, including elemental sulfur, calcite, quartz, pyrite, goethite, gypsum, and fibroferrite, plus all of the six members of the jarosite subgroup (jarosite, argentojarosite, ammoniojarosite, hydroniumjarosite, natrojarosite, plumbojarosite). The Baume Galinière deposits are the first documented cave occurrence of argentojarosite and the second known occurrence of plumbojarosite, hydronium jarosite, ammoniojarosite, and fibroferrite. In the Vaucluse watershed, there were numerous upwellings of deep water along major faults, located at the contact of the karstic aquifer and the overlying impervious covers. The mixing of deep and meteoric waters at shallow depths caused pyrite depositions in numerous caves, including Baume Galinière. Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis occurred later after base-level drop, when the cave was under shallow phreatic conditions then in the vadose zone, with oxidation of pyrites generating sulfuric acid. Attenuated oxidation is still occurring through condensation of moisture from incoming air. Baume Galinière Cave records the position of the semi-impervious paleo-cover and documents its retreat in relationship to valley incision caused by uplift and tilting of the Vaucluse block during the Neogene.


Uplifted flank margin caves in telogenetic limestones in the Gulf of Orosei (Central-East Sardinia—Italy) and their palaeogeographic significance, 2015,
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D'angeli Ilenia Maria, Sanna Laura, Clazoni Claudio, De Waele Jo

Thiswork reports the results of geomorphological observations carried out in the coastal Fico Cave and surrounding areas (Baunei, Central East Sardinia) in the Gulf of Orosei. A tidal notch, generally believed to be of Eemian (MIS 5e) age, is barely visible at 8.5 above present sea level (asl), some metres below the main entrance of the cave. Old cave passages, now partially opened by cliff retreat and parallel to the coastline, are clearly visible at around 14 m asl and correspond to the main level of Fico Cave. Two more notches are located higher, at 22 and 50 m asl. Fico Cave itself is composed of at least 6 clearly distinguished more or less horizontal levels (−10 m below present sea level (bsl), and +14, +22, +40, +50, and +63 m asl), independent of the stratal dip, arguing for a sea-level, and hence, fresh-water lens control. Cave passages develop along main fractures more or less parallel to the coastline and never extend landward for more than 150 m, mostly ending blindly, or diminishing in their dimensions progressively landward. Most passages only contain clay deposits, lacking fluvial or marine sediments or typical fluvial erosion morphologies (i.e. scallops).

It is suggested from this body of evidence that Fico Cave was formed in the coastal mixing zone along major discontinuities during several Quaternary interglacial periods, when sea level was high and relatively stable for enough time to develop large dissolutional voids. The geomorphological observations indicate the main +14 m asl level of the cave to have formed during MIS 9, and was heavily reworked during MIS 5, while the higher levels are relative to older interglacial highstands that occurred between 1 Ma and 325 ka. The small active branch developed below present sea level has formed during MIS 7 (225 ka). These observations shed new light on the position of the MIS 5e highstand markers in this area of the coast, much higher than previously thought.


Evaluating temporal changes in hydraulic conductivities near karst-terrain dams: Dokan Dam (Kurdistan-Iraq) , 2015,
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Dafny Elad, Tawfeeq Kochar Jamal, Ghabraie Kazem

Dam sites provide an outstanding opportunity to explore dynamic changes in the groundwater flow regime because of the high hydraulic gradient rapidly induced in their surroundings. This paper investigates the temporal changes of the hydraulic conductivities of the rocks and engineered structures via a thorough analysis of hydrological data collected at the Dokam Dam, Iraq, and a numerical model that simulates the Darcian component of the seepage. Analysis of the data indicates increased seepage with time and suggests that the hydraulic conductivity of the rocks increased as the conductivity of the grout curtain decreased. Conductivity changes on the order of 10−8 m/s, in a 20-yr period were quantified using the numerical analysis. It is postulated that the changes in hydraulic properties in the vicinity of Dokan Dam are due to suspension of fine materials, interbedded in small fissures in the rocks, and re-settlement of these materials along the curtain. Consequently, the importance of the grout curtain to minimize the downstream seepage, not only as a result of the conductivity contrast with the rocks, but also as a barrier to suspended clay sediments, is demonstrated. The numerical analysis also helped us to estimate the proportion of the disconnected karstic conduit flow to the overall flow.


Hydrothermal speleogenesis in carbonates and metasomatic silicites induced by subvolcanic intrusions: a case study from the Štiavnické vrchy Mountains, Slovakia, 2015,
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Several caves of hydrothermal origin in crystalline limestones and metasomatic silicites were investigated in the central zone of the Štiavnica stratovolcano, Štiavnické vrchy Mountains, central Slovakia. Evidence of hydrothermal origin includes irregular spherical cave morphology sculptured by ascending thermal water, occurrence of large calcite crystals and hydrothermal alteration of host rocks, including hydrothermal clays. The early phases of speleogenesis in the crystalline limestone near Sklené Teplice Spa were caused by post-magmatic dissolution linked either to the emplacement of subvolcanic granodiorite intrusions during Late Badenian time or to the spatially associated Late Sarmatian epithermal system. Speleogenesis in metasomatic silicites in the Šobov area is related to hydrothermal processes associated with the pre-caldera stage of the Štiavnica stratovolcano in Late Badenian. Both localities are remarkable examples of hydrothermal speleogenesis associated with Miocene volcanic and magmatic activity in the Western Carpathians


Results of the Exploration of the “Combe du Creux”, 2016,
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This article deals with speleology applied to the exploration of a siphon named “Combe du Creux”. It is located in France, in the department of the Doubs. We present surveys and the specific forms that are encountered in this flooded cave; eventually we propose a possible evolution of this sump. Cave diving, regarded as cave science, closely associated to underwater photography, is a good mean to investigate such a cave.

We have been diving in this sump since 2003 and we present the results of 13 years of explorations, up to July 2016.
After having explored this cave up to the farthest known point, we made a survey (elevation and plane view). Further dives, using a rebreather when necessary, enabled a work of observation and underwater photography.

We observed concretions – limestone as well as clay – and potholes below the current water level. We also observed ribs and scallops. The underground development of the cave seems well correlated with geologic elements that can be observed outside.
The set of all the observations leads to the conclusion that, at long time scale, the water level has fluctuated. It has been, at least once, 46 m (151 ft) below its current position. In one place inside the cave, it has been observed interactions between flutes and scallops: this new information should be taken in account in any new theoretical or computational modeling of scallops.


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