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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. ...

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That capacity, well is the rate at which a well will yield water [16].?

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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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The historical copper shale mine excavations on the south-eastern flank of Harz Mountains have cut into numerous large caves in gypsum and anhydrite. These caves are known as “Schlotten” (pl., sg. Schlotte). The word is derived from the Early New High German meaning internal hollow formations allowing the drainage of water and already finds mention in XVIth century literature. However, these quite spectacular gypsum caves have never aroused the interest of the wider public. Discovered through mining, they have always been only accessible via pit shafts and galleries and invariably considered to be part of the mine. But in a scientific sense they are deep phreatic and hypogene caves in a parent rock of anhydrite or gypsum, in their natural state filled with water and without an entrance. They are unique geological outcrops in Zechstein (upper Permian), large karst caves of rare character and particular beauty as well as cultural witnesses to historical mining. The miners used the “Schlotten” for a long period of time to drain water from the mines (until the XVIIIth century) and for economical reasons also to store unwanted spoil (until the XIXth century). As the mine workings reached deeper levels, sub- sidence and flooding became more common and the intensity of the karst dissolution process increased. Problems of catastrophic proportions due to mine flooding were encountered in 1892 near Eisleben and in 1988 near Sangerhausen. The hydrological problems that confronted the copper shale mine excavations in the south-eastern Harz region are of geogenic origin. The exploitable seams, which on average slope between 3º and 8º, are covered with a between 4 and 7 metre thick layer of limestone (Zechstein) with the characteristics of a karst aquifer. Above this a 60 m thick layer of anhydrite or gypsum is found, in which the “Schlotten” are formed, notably on geological faults. The relevance of the “Schlotten” as a natural phenomenon was first appreciated in depth by Johann Carl Freiesleben (1774-1846). He described them scientifically in 1809 and campaigned emphatically for their preservation. With regard to this, the “Wimmelburger Schlotten” near Eisleben were surveyed and geologically mapped by Anton Erdmann (1782-1848). The plan and side elevation of the cave survey were reproduced in copperplate and are considered to be the oldest published depiction of a gypsum cave in Germany. From the mid 70s the “Schlotten” became subject of speleological research for a short period of time. The abandoned projects have only recently been re-established. Two of the “Schlotten” are accessible via the Mining Museum Wettelrode: the “Segen-Gottes-Schlotte” and the “Elisabethschaechter Schlotte” near Sangerhausen. The “Wimmelburger Schlotten” near Eisleben are the largest gypsum caves in Germany and to a certain extent accessible for research.


Karst development in Permian Castile evaporites has resulted in complex speleogenetic evolution with multiple phases of diagenetic overprinting. More than 10,000 surficial features, primarily sinkholes, occur throughout Culberson County, Texas, and Eddy County, New Mexico, based on GIS-analyses where laminated Castile sulfates crop out. Cave development is largely the result of hypogene processes, where ascending fluids from the underlying Bell Canyon Formation migrate near vertically through the Castile Formation, creating caves up to 100 meters deep and over 500 meters long, which have been breached through a combination of collapse and surface denudation. Numerous small and laterally limited epigene features occur throughout the region, as well as the anomalously large Parks Ranch Cave System with more than 6.5 kilometers of cave development and multiple large, incised, sinkhole entrances. Hypogene caves exhibit varying degrees of epigenic overprinting as a result of surficial breaching.

Water resources in the Castile Formation are directly related to karst development with extremely heterogeneous flow networks. Most springs in the region discharge sulfate-rich waters, contain high levels of hydrogen sulfide, and support sulfate-reducing bacterial colonies. Isolated stream passages in northern Culberson County provide locally significant water resources that do not exhibit elevated hydrogen sulfide concentrations. Local water tables vary greatly over the region and few caves access base-level conditions. Upward migration of hydrocarbons complicates regional hydrology and diagenesis, resulting in extensive evaporite calcitization, which greatly modifies both fluid / rock interaction and permeability structures.

Hypogene Cave Morphologies. Selected papers and abstracts of the symposium held February 2 through 7, 2014, San Salvador Island, Bahamas, 2014,

This new electronic publication is Special Publication 18 from the Karst Waters Institute, consisting of selected papers and abstracts for the Hypogene Cave Morphologies symposium held February 2 - 7, 2014, on San Salvador Island, The Bahamas. The main thematic activities of the conference were to examine and discuss the unique cave morphologies and speleogens associated with hypogene caves, from the scale of 100 km+ cave maps down to centimeter size wall rock shapes and forms. Hypogene caves can be argued to represent a laminar flow regime that is quite different from the turbulent flow found in epigenic stream caves coupled to surface hydrology. Can these morphologies be uniquely characterized to identify hypogene caves? What effect do these laminar flow regimes have on geochemical models of dissolution drive in hypogene settings? Do flank margin caves fall in the hypogene flow environment?

Fingerprinting water-rock interaction in hypogene speleogenesis: potential and limitations of isotopic depth-profiling, 2014, Spötl Ch, Dublyansky Y.

Dissolution processes in karst regions commonly involve (meteoric) water whose stable isotopic (O, H, C) composition is distinctly different from that of the paleowaters from which the host rock (limestone, dolostone) formed. This, in theory, should lead to isotopic alteration of the host rock beyond the active solution surface as the modern karst water is out of isotopic equilibrium with the carbonate rock. No such alteration has been reported, however, in epigenetic karst systems. In contrast, isotopic alteration, commonly referred to as isotopic halos or fronts, are known from various hypogene systems (ore deposits, active hydro­thermal systems, etc.). These empirical observations suggest that stable isotope data may be a diagnostic tool to identify hypogene water-rock interactions particularly in cave systems whose origin is ambiguous.

We have been testing the applicability of this assumption to karst settings by studying the isotopic composition of carbonate host rocks in a variety of caves showing clear-cut hypogene morphologies. Cores drilled into the walls of cave chambers and galleries were stud­ied petrographically and the C and O isotope composition was analyzed along these cores, which typically reached a depth of 0.5 to 1.2 m. We identified three scenarios: (a) no isotopic alteration, (b) a sigmoidal isotope front within a few centimeters of the cave wall, and (c) pervasive isotope alteration throughout the entire core length. Type (a) was found in caves where the rate of cave wall retreat apparently outpaced the rate of isotopic alteration of the wall rock (which is typical, for example, for sulfuric acid speleogenesis). Type (c) was observed in geologically young, porous limestone showing evidence of alteration zones up to 5 m wide. The intermediate type (b) was identified in hypogene karst cavities developed in tight limestone, dolostone and marble.

Our data in conjunction with evidence from speleothems and their geochemical and fluid-inclusion composition suggest that the spa­tial extent of the isotopic alteration front depends on the porosity and permeability, as well as on the saturation state of the water. Wider alteration zones primarily reflect a higher permeability. Shifts are most distinct for oxygen isotopes and less so for carbon, whereby the amplitude depends on a number of variables, including the isotopic composition of unaltered host rock, the isotopic composition of the paleofluid, the temperature, the water/rock ratio, the surface of water-rock contact, the permeability of the rock, and the time available for isotope exchange. If the other parameters can be reasonably constrained, then semi-quantitative temperature estimates of the paleowater can be obtained assuming isotopic equilibrium conditions.

If preserved (scenarios b and c), alteration fronts are a strong evidence of hypogene speleogenesis, and, in conjunction with hypogene precipitates, allow to fingerprint the isotopic and physical parameters of the altering paleofluid. The reverse conclusion is not valid, however; i.e. the lack of evidence of isotopic alteration of the cave wall rock cannot be used to rule out hypogene paleo-water-rock interaction.


In The Bahamas, caves and blue holes provide clues to the geologic and climatic history of archipelago but are now emerging as windows into the ecological and cultural past of islands. Cave environments in The Bahamas alternate cyclically between vadose and phreatic conditions with sea-level change, thereby providing unique but ephemeral fossil capture and preservation conditions.

A diverse assemblage of fossil plants and animals from Sawmill Sink, an inland blue hole on Abaco Island in the northern Bahamas, has revealed a prehistoric terrestrial ecosystem with exquisitely preserved fossil assemblages that result from an unusual depositional setting. The entrance is situated in the pine forest and opens into a flooded collapse chamber that intersects horizontal conduits at depths to 54 meters. The deepest passages are filled with sea water up to an anoxic mixing zone at depths of 14 to 9 meters and into the upper surface fresh-water layer. The collapse chamber is partially filled with a large talus pile that coincides with an anoxic halocline and direct sunlight for much of the day.

During glacioeustatic sea-level lowstands in the late Pleistocene, Sawmill Sink was a dry cave, providing roosting sites for bats and owls. Accumulations of bones deposited in depths of 25 to 30 meters were subsequently preserved by sea-level rise in the Holocene. The owl roost deposits are dominated by birds but also include numerous small vertebrate species that were actively transported by owls to the roost sites.

As sea levels rose in the Holocene, Sawmill Sink became a traditional passive pitfall trap. Significant quantities of surface derived organic material collected on the upper regions of the talus at the halocline where decaying plant material produced a dense layer of peat within an anoxic mixing zone enriched with hydrogen sulfide. Vertebrate species that drowned were entombed in the peat, where conditions inhibited large scavengers, microbial decomposition, and mechanical disarticulation, contributing to the superb preserva­tion of the fossil assemblage in the upper regions of the talus.

HYPOGENE CAVE PATTERNS IN IRON ORE CAVES: CONVERGENCE OF FORMS OR PROCESSES?, 2014, Auler A. S. , Piló L. B. , Parker C. W. , Senko J. M. , Sasowsky I. D. , Barton H. A.

Speleogenesis in iron ore caves may involve generation of porosity at depth with a later surficial phase associated with slope hydrological processes. The earlier phreatic phase results in morphological features similar to but much more irregular at wall and ceiling scale than what is observed in hypogene caves. Processes responsible for the generation of caves do not seem to follow normal karst geochemical paths, but instead occur through bacterially mediated redox reactions.


Initiation and development of karstification requires a con­tinuous flushing of pore water in equilibrium with carbon­ate minerals. Under confined flow conditions, the energy required for pore water transport is supplied by external pressure sources in addition to the by earth’s gravity. Earth tides and water loads over the confined flow system are the main sources of ex­ternal pressure that drives the pore water. Earth tides, created by the sum of the horizontal components of tide generation forces of moon and sun, causes expansion and contraction of the crust in horizontal direction. Water load on top of the confined flow system causes vertical loading/unloading and may be in the form of recharge load or ocean loading in the inland and sub-oceanic settings, respectively. Increasing and decreasing tide generating force results in pore water transport in the confined system by means of contraction and expansion, respectively. Since these forces operate in perpendicular directions, pore water flushing by earth tides becomes less effective when water load on top of the confined flow system increases. Temporal variation of fresh­water content in a submarine cave is presented as an example of groundwater discharge driven by earth tides and recharge load.


The Toca da Boa Vista and Barriguda caves are located in Northeastern Brazil. They occur in the Neoproterozoic carbonates (limestones and dolomites) of the Salitre Formation, located at Irecê Basin. This set of rocks occurs within the São Francisco Craton, a region that was not affected by the Brasiliano-Pan-African orogeny (Pedreira et al., 1987). The caves occur at a dis­tance of approximately 300 m apart and there is a possibility of a link between them, but so far this has not been proven. Toca da Boa Vista has about 108 km of mapped passages and is therefore the largest cave in South America. Toca da Barriguda is smaller and has about 32 km of mapped galleries.

The architecture of the Toca da Boa Vista and Barriguda caves present both a 2D network and spongework type (Auler, 2009). The control of the conduits is related to faults, fractures and axial planes of antiforms. The general configuration of the caves seems to follow the Pacuí riverbed that has its channel located about 1km southeast. The origin of these hypogenic caves was first postulated by Auler & Smart (2004), who described some hypogenic features and reported a acid source (H2S) coming from existing pyrite in carbonates to explain the corrosion and dissolution of carbonate rocks. Klimchouk (2009) wrote about the need to investigate deeper this issue. He drew attention to the apparent feeders presence coming from the lower aquifer as well as to the importance of determi­nation of the source of acidity, since the amount of pyrite present doesn’t seem to be significant for the origin and development of the caves by hypogenic speleogenesis.

Although the origin and development of the caves are still under discussion, abundant hypogenic forms are present. Feeders, rising wall channels, half ceiling tubes, half wall tubes, ceiling cupolas, convection cupolas and wall niches are the major forms found. The linear geometry of caves suggests that they have a structural control. In addition, cavities generated at Toca da Boa Vista and Barriguda caves seem to follow the same stratigraphic level, as well as existing permeable structures such as fractures, faults and axial planes of antiforms. The process of ascending flow through these structures has resulted in the opening of the cavities by hypogenic dissolution as well as the collapse of blocks caused by the lack of sustainability of the layers generated by the voids left by the dis­solution. Outlets that would flow to levels above were not found. The origin and evolution of the cave system, however, needs further investigation.


Numerical models of speleogenesis typically simulate flow and dissolution within single fractures or networks of fractures. Such models employ fracture flow and pipe flow equations to determine flow rates and only consider average velocities within each fracture segment. Such approximations make large scale simulations of speleogenesis tractable. However, they do not allow simulation of the formation and evolution of micro- or meso-scale cave passage morphologies. Such morphologies are frequently studied within a field setting and utilized for the interpretation of the speleogenetic processes that formed the cave. One classic example is the formation of scallops in cave streams with turbulent flow. Scallops are used to interpret past flow velocities and directions. However, a recent analysis of the theory of limestone dissolution in turbulent flow conditions suggests a discrepancy between theory and reality concerning the formation of limestone scallops (Covington, in review). Similarly, the only attempt to numerically simulate flute formation in limestone found that the flute forms were not stable (Hammer et al., 2011). Motivated by these puzzles, we are developing a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) framework for the simulation of the evolution of dissolution morphologies.

While this project was initially conceived to better understand dissolution in turbulent flow, the tools being developed are particu­larly well-suited to examine a variety of other questions related to cave morphology on the micro- and meso-scales. There has been significant recent discussion about the interpretation of features that are diagnostic of hypogenic or transverse speleogenesis, such as the morphological suite of rising flow defined by Klimchouk (2007). Other authors have suggested that such forms can be found in a variety of settings where confined flow is not present (Mylroie and Mylroie, 2009; Palmer, 2011). We propose that simulation of such forms using a CFD speleogenesis code will allow a more complete understanding of the connections between process and form, because in such simulations the processes occurring are well-known, well-defined, and also can be adjusted within controlled numeri­cal experiments, where relevant parameters and boundary conditions are systematically varied.

The CFD framework we are developing is based on the Lattice Boltzman method (Chen and Doolen, 1998), which is a popular tech­nique for modeling the mechanics of complex fluids, including fluid mixtures, reactive transport, porous media flow, and complex and evolving domain geometries. With this framework it is straightforward to simulate many of the processes occurring in hypogene settings, including complex fluid flows, dissolution, solute and heat transport, and buoyancy-driven flow. Furthermore, this modeling framework allows these processes to be coupled so that their interactions and feedbacks can be explored. With the suite of capabili­ties provided by this framework, we can begin to numerically simulate the processes occurring in hypogene speleogenesis, including the driving mechanisms and the role of buoyancy-driven flow and its relationship with the morphological suite of rising flow. In the spirit of a workshop, this work is presented as in-progress, in the hopes that it will stimulate discussion on potential applications of the model being developed.

A REVIEW ON HYPOGENE CAVES IN ITALY, 2014, De Waele J. , Galdenzi S. , Madonia G. , Menichetti M. , Parise M. , Leonardo Piccini , Sanna L. , Sauro F. , Tognini P. , Vattano M. Vigna B.

Although hypogene cave systems have been described since the beginning of the 20th century, the importance in speleogenesis of ascending fluids that acquired their aggressiveness from in-depth sources has been fully realized only in the last decades. Aggressiveness of waters can be related to carbonic and sulfuric acids and the related corrosion-dissolu­tion processes give rise to different types of caves and under­ground morphologies.

The abundance of hydrothermal springs and associated traver­tine deposits, and the widespread interaction between volcanic or sub-volcanic phenomena and karst in many sectors of the Ital­ian peninsula are a strong evidence of hypogene speleogenesis. Furthermore, researches on secondary minerals have allowed to discover hypogene caves formed by highly acidic vapors in sub­aerial environments, also showing that most of these caves have extremely rich mineral associations.

Despite this, until the late 1980s the only known important cave systems of clear hypogene origin in Italy were considered to be the ones hosted in the Frasassi Canyon and Monte Cucco, in which important gypsum deposits undoubtedly showed that sulfuric acid played an important role in the creation of voids (Galdenzi, 1990, 2001; Galdenzi & Maruoka, 2003; Menichetti et al., 2007). Afterwards many other caves were categorized as formed by the sulfuric acid speleogenesis throughout the entire Apennines. Following the broad definition of hypogene caves by Palmer in 1991, and the even more general one of Klimchouk in the last decade (Klimchouk, 2007, 2009), the number of caves considered of hypogene origin in Italy has grown rapidly. Figure 1 shows the hypogene karst systems of Italy, including, besides the well-known and published ones, also the known and less studied, and presumed hypogene cave systems (see also Table 1).

More recently, in some of these caves detailed studies have been carried out including geomorphology, mineralogy, and geochem­istry. Sulfuric acid caves are known from many regions along the Apennine chain (Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Latium, Campa­nia, Calabria) (Forti, 1985; Forti et al., 1989; Galdenzi and Me­nichetti, 1989, 1995; Galdenzi, 1997, 2001, 2009; Galdenzi et al., 2010; Piccini, 2000; Menichetti, 2009, 2011; Mecchia, 2012; De Waele et al., 2013b), but also from Piedmont, Apulia, Sicily (Vattano et al., 2013) and Sardinia (De Waele et al., 2013a). In this last region ascending fluids have also formed a hypogene cave in quartzite rock. Oxidation of sulfides can locally create hypogene cave morphologies in dominantly epigenic caves, such as in the Venetian forealps (this cave is not shown in Figure 1, being largely epigenic in origin) (Tisato et al., 2012). Ascend­ing fluids have also created large solution voids in Messinian gypsum beds in Piedmont, and these can be defined hypogene caves according to the definition by Klimchouk (Vigna et al., 2010). Some examples of hypogene cave systems due to the rise of CO2-rich fluids are also known in Liguria and Tuscany (Pic­cini, 2000). In the Alps and Prealps (Lombardy), some ancient high mountain karst areas exhibit evidences of an early hypo­gene origin, deeply modified and re-modeled by later epigenic processes. Hypogene morphologies are thus preserved as inac­tive features, and it is often difficult to distinguish them from epigenic ones.

At almost twenty years distance from the first review paper on hypogene cave systems in Central Italy by S. Galdenzi and M. Menichetti (1995), we give a review of the state-of-the-art knowledge on hypogene caves actually known from the whole of Italy


Existing definitions of the term hypogene karst (hypogene speleogenesis) are not always consistent with the estab­lished meaning of the term hypogene in the Earth Scienc­es. They are commonly biased either toward geochemical or to­ward hydrogeological aspects of the phenomenon. It is proposed that hypogene karst is defined on the basis of the two properties: predominance of the deep-seated sources of aggressiveness of karst water, independent of the environment at the overlying or immediately adjacent surface; and recharge of soluble formation from below, independent of recharge from overlying or immedi­ately adjacent surface


The Devils Hole Ridge, a small block of Paleozoic carbonate rocks surrounded by the Amargosa Desert in southern Nevada, is located at the discharge end of the Ash Meadows regional groundwater flow system.
Continuous, long-term presence of slightly thermal (33.6°C) groundwater and the extensional tectonic setting, creating underground thermal lakes in open fractures, lead to intense dissolution above the water table. The morphology of the subaerial parts of the tectonic caves was slightly modified by condensation corrosion, and the Devils Hole Prospect Cave was almost entirely created by condensation corrosion. Caves and cavities in the Devils Hole Ridge are an interesting example of a hypogene speleogenesis by mechanism by condensation corrosion, operating above an aquifer which was demonstrably supersaturated with respect to calcite for hundreds of thousands of years.


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

PERMIAN HYDROTHERMAL KARST IN KRAKÓW REGION (SOUTHERN POLAND) AND ITS PECULIAR INTERNAL SEDIMENTS, 2014, Gradziński M. , Lewandowska A. , Paszkowski M. , Duliński M. , Nawrocki J. , Żywiecki M.

The development of caves influenced by the deep circulation of water has received increasing interest for the last thirty years. Presently, hypogene caves have been recognized all around the world. Conversely, the ancient examples filled with sediments and representing palaeokarst forms are not so common.
The karst forms and their sediment fillings were encountered in the Dębnik Anticline (Kraków region, Southern Poland) composed of Middle Devonian to Mississippian carbonates. The development of karst slightly postdates the Permian (ca. 300 Ma) volcanic activity in the Kraków region. In this region major transcontinental strike and slip Hamburg-Kraków-Dobruja fault zone induced a series of minor, en echelon, extensional faults, which served as magma passages and guided karst conduits.
The karst forms in the Dębnik Anticline reach several to tens of meters in size. They are filled with: i) massive, subaqueous, coarse crystalline calcite spar; ii) crystalloclastic, bedded limestones; iii) jasper lenses; iv) kaolinitised tuffs. The sediments are characterized by red colouration caused by iron compounds.
Coarse crystalline calcite spar composes beds up to several dozen centimeters in thickness. They are laminated and comprise frutexites type structures. The calcites are interbedded with pinkish-red crystalloclastic limestones, which are built of detritic calcite crystals from silt size to a few millimeters across. Some of the crystals are of skeletal type. Crystalloclastic limestones are normally graded. Both calcite spar and crystalloclastic limestones underwent synsedimentary deformations, which resulted in brecciation and plastic deformations.
The above deposits fill karst forms up to a few metres in lateral extent. However, analogously filled enormously huge (up to around 100 m across) forms were recognized in the early 80s of the last century. Presently, they are completely exploited.
The karst forms were fragments of extensive circulation system. It was fed by waters of elevated temperature, rich in endogenic CO2, which is proved by fluid inclusion analysis and stable isotope investigation. The origin of this system was associated with volcanic activity. The roots of the system are represented by fissures filled with coarse crystalline, red and white calcites of onyx type, which are common in the Dębnik Anticline. Water issuing from this system on the surface caused precipitation of red travertines. These travertines are preserved only as clasts in the Lower Permian conglomerates deposited in the local tectonic depressions.
The study was financed by Ministry of Science and Higher Education project N307 022 31/1746.


Germany currently features 20 caves in sulfate rocks (gypsum and anhydrite) longer than 200 m. Most of them occur either in the Werra-Anhydrite or in the Hauptanhydrite of the evaporitic Zechstein series (Upper Permian). One occurs in the Jurassic Münder Mergel and two in the Triassic Grundgips. The longest, the Wimmelburger Schlotten, is 2.8 km long with a floor area of 24,000 m2. All caves, except four, occur in the South Harz, where the Zechstein outcrop fringes the uplifted and tilted Variscian Harz. These caves can be divided into three general classes: (i) epigenic caves with lateral, turbulent water flow, and (ii) shallow or (iii) deep phreatic caves with slow convective density-driven dissolution. The latter were discovered during historic copper-shale mining and called “Schlotten” by the miners; most of them are not accessible any more. Shallow phreatic caves occur in several areas, most notably in the Nature Preserve of the Hainholz/Beierstein at Düna/Osterode/Lower Saxony. Here, we sampled all water bodies in May 1973 and monitored 31 stations between Nov. 23rd, 1974, and April 24th, 1976, with a total 933 samples, allowing us to characterize the provenance of these waters. These monitoring results were published only partially (PCO2 data, see Kempe, 1992). Here, I use the data set to show that the Jettenhöhle (the largest cave in the Hainholz) has been created by upward moving, carbonate-bearing, groundwater of high PCO2. Even though the cave has now only small cave ponds and essentially is a dry cave above the ground water level, it is a hypogene cave because of the upward movement “of the cave-forming agent” (sensu Klimchouk, 2012). Likewise, the Schlotten are created by water rising from the underlying carbonate aquifer, but under a deep phreatic setting

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