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Enviroscan Ukrainian Institute of Speleology and Karstology


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Community news

Speleology in Kazakhstan

Shakalov on 04 Jul, 2018
Hello everyone!   I pleased to invite you to the official site of Central Asian Karstic-Speleological commission ("Kaspeko")   There, we regularly publish reports about our expeditions, articles and reports on speleotopics, lecture course for instructors, photos etc. ...

New publications on hypogene speleogenesis

Klimchouk on 26 Mar, 2012
Dear Colleagues, This is to draw your attention to several recent publications added to KarstBase, relevant to hypogenic karst/speleogenesis: Corrosion of limestone tablets in sulfidic ground-water: measurements and speleogenetic implications Galdenzi,

The deepest terrestrial animal

Klimchouk on 23 Feb, 2012
A recent publication of Spanish researchers describes the biology of Krubera Cave, including the deepest terrestrial animal ever found: Jordana, Rafael; Baquero, Enrique; Reboleira, Sofía and Sendra, Alberto. ...

Caves - landscapes without light

akop on 05 Feb, 2012
Exhibition dedicated to caves is taking place in the Vienna Natural History Museum   The exhibition at the Natural History Museum presents the surprising variety of caves and cave formations such as stalactites and various crystals. ...

Did you know?

That water level is the level of free surface of a water body or water column [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;
See all featured articles from other geoscience journals

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Your search for mechanism (Keyword) returned 338 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 331 to 338 of 338
Stable isotope data as constraints on models for the origin of coralloid and massive speleothems: The interplay of substrate, water supply, degassing, and evaporation, 2015,
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Caddeo Guglielmo Angelo, Railsback Loren Bruce, De Waele Jo, Frau Franco

Many speleothems can be assigned to one of two morphological groups: massive speleothems, which consist of compact bulks of material, and coralloids, which are domal to digitate in form. Faster growth on protrusions of the substrate occurs in the typical growth layers of coralloids (where those layers are termed “coralloid accretions”),

but it is not observed in the typical layers of massive speleothems, which in contrast tend to smoothen the speleothem surface (and can therefore be defined as “smoothing accretions”). The different growth rates on different areas of the substrate are explainable by various mechanisms of CaCO3 deposition (e.g., differential aerosol deposition, differential CO2 and/or H2O loss fromacapillary filmof solution, deposition in subaqueous environments).

To identify the causes of formation of coralloids rather than massive speleothems, this article provides data about δ13C and δ18O at coeval points of both smoothing and coralloid accretions, examining the relationship between isotopic composition and the substratemorphology. In subaerial speleothems, data showenrichment in heavy isotopes both along the direction of water flow and toward the protrusions. The first effect is due to H2O evaporation and CO2 degassing during a gravity-driven flow of water (gravity stage) and is observed in smoothing accretions; the second effect is due to evaporation and degassing duringwatermovement by capillary action from recesses to prominences (capillary stage) and is observed in subaerial coralloids. Both effects coexist in smoothing accretions interspersed among coralloid ones (intermediate stage). Thus this study supports the origin of subaerial coralloids from dominantly capillary water and disproves their origin by deposition of aerosol fromthe cave air. On the other hand, subaqueous coralloids seem to form by a differential mass-transfer from a still bulk of water toward different zones of the substrate along diffusion flux vectors of nutrients perpendicular to the iso-depleted surfaces. Finally, this isotopic method has proved useful to investigate the controls on speleothem morphology and to obtain additional insights on the evolution of aqueous solutions inside caves.


Genesis of folia in a non-thermal epigenic cave (Matanzas, Cuba), 2015,
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D'angeli Ilenia Maria, De Waele Jo, Ceballo Melendres Osmany, Tisato Nicola, Sauro Francesco, Grau Gonzalez Esteban Ruben, Bernasconi Stefano, Torriani Stefano, Bontognali Tomaso Renzo Rezio

Folia are an unusual speleothem type resembling inverted cups or bracket fungi. Themechanismof folia formation is not fully understood and is the subject of an ongoing debate. This study focuses on an occurrence of folia present in Santa Catalina Cave, a non-thermal epigenic cave located close to Matanzas (Cuba). The sedimentology, morphology, petrology, permeability and geochemistry of these folia have been studied to gain new insight on the processes leading to their development. It is concluded that folia in Santa Catalina Cave formed at the top of a fluctuating water body, through CO2-degassing or evaporation, which may have been enhanced by the proximity to cave entrances. Two observations strongly support our conclusions. (1) When compared to other subaqueous speleothems (e.g. cave clouds) present in the same rooms, folia occur exclusively within a limited vertical interval that likely represents an ancient water level. Folia occur together with calcite rafts and tower cones that developed, respectively, on top of and below the water level. This suggests that a fluctuating interface is required for folia formation. (2) The measured permeability of the folia is too high to trap gas bubbles. Thus, in contrast to what has been proposed in other studies, trapped bubbles of CO2 cannot be invoked as the key factor determining the genesis and morphology of folia in this subaqueous environment.


The role of condensation in the evolution of dissolutional forms in gypsum caves: Study case in the karst of Sorbas (SE Spain), 2015,
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Gazquez Fernando, Calaforra José Maria, Forti Paolo, De Waele Jo, Sanna Laura

The karst of Sorbas (SE Spain) is one of the most important gypsum areas worldwide. Its underground karst network comprises over 100 km of cave passages. Rounded smooth forms, condensation cupola and pendant-like features appear on the ceiling of the shallower passages as a result of gypsum dissolution by condensation water. Meanwhile, gypsum speleothems formed by capillarity, evaporation and aerosol deposition such as coralloids, gypsum crusts and rims are frequently observed closer to the passage floors. The role of condensation–dissolution mechanisms in the evolution of geomorphological features observed in the upper cave levels has been studied by means of long-term micro-erosion meter (MEM) measurements, direct collection and analysis of condensation waters, and micrometeorological monitoring. Monitoring of erosion at different heights on gypsum walls of the Cueva del Agua reveals that the gypsum surface retreated up to 0.033 mm yr−1 in MEM stations located in the higher parts of the cave walls. The surface retreat was negligible at the lowest sites, suggesting higher dissolution rates close to the cave ceiling, where warmer and moister air flows. Monitoring of microclimatic parameters and direct measurements of condensation water were performed in the Covadura Cave system in order to estimate seasonal patterns of condensation. Direct measurements of condensation water dripping from a metal plate placed in the central part of the El Bosque Gallery of Covadura Cave indicate that condensation takes place mainly between July and November in coincidence with rainless periods. The estimated gypsum surface lowering due to this condensation water is 0.0026 mm yr−1. Microclimatic monitoring in the same area shows differences in air temperature and humidity of the lower parts of the galleries (colder and drier) with respect to the cave ceiling (warmer and wetter). This thermal sedimentation controls the intensity of the condensation–evaporation mechanisms at different heights in the cave.


Quaternary faulting in the Tatra Mountains, evidence from cave morphology and fault-slip analysis, 2015,
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Szczygieł Jacek

Tectonically deformed cave passages in the Tatra Mts (Central Western Carpathians) indicate some fault activity during the Quaternary. Displacements occur in the youngest passages of the caves indicating (based on previous U-series dating of speleothems) an Eemian or younger age for those faults, and so one tectonic stage. On the basis of stress analysis and geomorphological observations, two different mechanisms are proposed as responsible for the development of these displacements. The first mechanism concerns faults that are located above the valley bottom and at a short distance from the surface, with fault planes oriented sub-parallel to the slopes. The radial, horizontal extension and vertical σ1 which is identical with gravity, indicate that these faults are the result of gravity sliding probably caused by relaxation after incision of valleys, and not directly from tectonic activity. The second mechanism is tilting of the Tatra Mts. The faults operated under WNW-ESE oriented extension with σ1 plunging steeply toward the west. Such a stress field led to normal dip-slip or oblique-slip displacements. The faults are located under the valley bottom and/or opposite or oblique to the slopes. The process involved the pre-existing weakest planes in the rock complex: (i) in massive limestone mostly faults and fractures, (ii) in thin-bedded limestone mostly inter-bedding planes. Thin-bedded limestones dipping steeply to the south are of particular interest. Tilting toward the N caused the hanging walls to move under the massif and not toward the valley, proving that the cause of these movements was tectonic activity and not gravity.


Deep speleological salt contamination in Mediterranean karst aquifers: perspectives for water supply, 2015,
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On the Mediterranean coast, submarine karst springs are common. Most of them are brackish and various unsuccessful attempts in France, Greece, and Italy indicate that it is impossible to diminish the salinity at the spring. Based on studies on the shores of south-eastern France and in Kefalonia (Greece), we propose a working model that explains the mechanism of salt contamination. During the Messinian Deep Stage (-5.9 to 5.3 Ma), a substantial sea-level lowering in the Mediterranean allowed the existence of cave networks extending several hundreds of meters below the present sea level. Seawater is now sucked into the system through these caves. This mechanism is supported by a study of the Port Miou underground river (Cassis, France). In the Port Miou cave system, which extends to 250 m below sea level, titanium and heavy metals are present in the sediment. They are similar to those found in the Cassidaigne submarine canyon, which reinforces the hypothesis of a connection between the cave and the canyon. Recent geological studies prove a Messinian origin for the canyon and support the deep contamination model. The model is also supported by examples on Kefalonia Island (Greece) and in the Toix–Moraig system (Spain) where salt-water intrusions are observed in coastal sinkholes and sea caves. This model explains why various attempts to diminish the salinity of these brackish springs, through the construction of dams to increase head, have failed.On the Mediterranean coast, submarine karst
springs are common. Most of them are brackish and various
unsuccessful attempts in France, Greece, and Italy
indicate that it is impossible to diminish the salinity at the
spring. Based on studies on the shores of south-eastern
France and in Kefalonia (Greece), we propose a working
model that explains the mechanism of salt contamination.
During the Messinian Deep Stage (-5.9 to 5.3 Ma), a
substantial sea-level lowering in the Mediterranean
allowed the existence of cave networks extending several
hundreds of meters below the present sea level. Seawater is
now sucked into the system through these caves. This
mechanism is supported by a study of the Port Miou
underground river (Cassis, France). In the Port Miou cave
system, which extends to 250 m below sea level, titanium
and heavy metals are present in the sediment. They are
similar to those found in the Cassidaigne submarine canyon,
which reinforces the hypothesis of a connection
between the cave and the canyon. Recent geological
studies prove a Messinian origin for the canyon and support
the deep contamination model. The model is also
supported by examples on Kefalonia Island (Greece) and in
the Toix–Moraig system (Spain) where salt-water intrusions
are observed in coastal sinkholes and sea caves. This
model explains why various attempts to diminish the
salinity of these brackish springs, through the construction
of dams to increase head, have failed.


The current status of mapping karst areas and availability of public sinkhole-risk resources in karst terrains of the United States, 2015,
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Subsidence from sinkhole collapse is a common occurrence in areas underlain by water-soluble rocks such as carbonate and evaporite rocks, typical of karst terrain. Almost all 50 States within the United States (excluding Delaware and Rhode Island) have karst areas, with sinkhole damage highest in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. A conservative estimate of losses to all types of ground subsidence was $125 million per year in 1997. This estimate may now be low, as review of cost reports from the last 15 years indicates that the cost of karst collapses in the United States averages more than $300 million per year. Knowing when a catastrophic event will occur is not possible; however, understanding where such occurrences are likely is possible. The US Geological Survey has developed and main-tains national-scale maps of karst areas and areas prone to sinkhole formation. Several States provide additional resources for their citizens; Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania maintain databases of sinkholes or karst features, with Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio providing sinkhole reporting mechanisms for the public.


The karst paradigm: changes, trends and perspectives, 2015,
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Klimchouk, Alexander

The paper examines representative definitions of karst (21), and discusses some concepts that influenced the modern un­derstanding of the phenomenon. Several trends are discussed that took karst science beyond the limits of the traditional par­adigm of karst. Dramatic progress in studies of speleogenesis plays the most significant role in changes taking place in the general understanding of karst. Also important is an adoption of the broad perspective to karst evolution which goes beyond the contemporary geomorphologic epoch and encompasses the entire life of a geological formation. Speleogenesis is viewed as a dynamic hydrogeological process of self-organization of the permeability structure in soluble rocks, a mechanism of the specific evolution of the groundwater flow system. The result is that these systems acquire a new, "karstic", quality and more complex organization. Since almost all essential attributes of karst owe their origin to speleogenesis, the latter is considered as the primary mechanism of the formation of karst. Two fundamental types of speleogenesis, hypogene and epigene, differentiate mainly due to distinct hydrodynamic characteristics of the respective groundwater flow systems: (1) of layered aquifer systems and fracture-vein flow systems of varying depths and degrees of confinement, and (2) of hydrodynamically open, near-surface unconfined systems. Accordingly, two major genetic types of karst are distinguished: hypogene and epigene. They differ in many characteristics, notably in relationships with the surface, hydrogeological behaviour, groundwater quality, and the areas of practical importance and approaches to solving karst-related issues. Although views on essential attributes of karst have been clearly changing, this was not reflected in definitions of the notion which are in broad use in the earth-science literature. A refined approach is suggested to the notion of karst in which it is viewed as a groundwater (fluid) flow system of a specific kind, which has acquired its peculiar properties in the course of speleogenesis.


Chemistry and Karst, 2015,
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White, William B.

The processes of initiation and development of characteris­tic surface karst landforms and underground caves are nearly all chemical processes. This paper reviews the advances in understanding of karst chemistry over the past 60 years. The equilibrium chemistry of carbonate and sulfate dissolution and deposition is well established with accurate values for the necessary constants. The equations for bulk kinetics are known well enough for accurate modeling of speleogenetic processes but much is being learned about atomic scale mechanisms. The chemistry of karst waters, expressed as parameters such as total dissolved carbonates, saturation index, and equilibrium carbon dioxide pressure are useful tools for probing the internal char­acteristics of karst aquifers. Continuous records of chemical parameters (chemographs) taken from springs and other karst waters mapped onto discharge hydrographs reveal details of the internal flow system. The chemistry of speleothem deposi­tion is well understood at the level of bulk processes but much has been learned of the surface chemistry on an atomic scale by use of the atomic force microscope. Least well understood is the chemistry of hypogenetic karst. The main chemical reac­tions are known but equilibrium modeling could be improved and reaction kinetics are largely unknown.


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