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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 Ma is internationally accepted abbreviation for million years, commonly applied to measurements of geological time. this abbreviation is currently used in preference to my [9].?

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 uranium (Keyword) returned 87 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 76 to 87 of 87
Uranium-series dating of gypsum speleothems: methodology and examples, 2010,
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Sanna L. , Saez F. , Simonsen S. , Constantin S. , Calaforra J. M. , Forti P. , Lauritzen S. E.
The analytical problems of dating gypsum speleothems with the U-series technique are reviewed. Gypsum speleothems are, in general, very low in U content, challenging the limits of detection methods. Various approaches to dissolving gypsum and isolation of actinides from the matrix include ion-pairing dissolution with magnesium salts and using nitric acid. The most precise dating technique is Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS), combined with Fe(OH)3 scavenging and anionic exchange chromatography. Less satisfactory, but much quicker, is direct retention of actinides from HNO3 by means of TRU resin and MC-ICP-MS detection. We have tested these methods on gypsum speleothems from the Sorbas karst in Spain and from the Naica caves in Mexico.

Age frequency distribution and revised stable isotope curves for New Zealand speleothems: palaeoclimatic implications., 2010,
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Williams P. W. , Neil H. And Zhao Jx.
The occurrence of speleothems in New Zealand with reversed magnetism indicates that secondary calcite deposition in caves has occurred for more than 780 thousand years (ka). 394 uranium-series dates on 148 speleothems show that such deposition has taken place somewhere in the country with little interruption for more than 500 ka. A relative probability distribution of speleothem ages indicates that most growth occurred in mild, moist interglacial and interstadial intervals, a conclusion reinforced by comparing peaks and troughs in the distribution with time series curves of speleothem ?18O and ?13C values. The stable isotope time series were constructed using data from 15 speleothems from two different regions of the country. The greater the number of overlapping speleothem series (i.e. the greater the sample depth) for any one region, the more confidence is justified in considering the stacked record to be representative of the region. Revising and extending earlier work, composite records are produced for central-west North Island (CWNI) and north-west South Island (NWSI). Both demonstrate that over the last 15 ka the regions responded similarly to global climatic events, but that the North Island site was also influenced by the waxing and waning of regional subtropical marine influences that penetrated from the north but did not reach the higher latitudes of the South Island. Cooling marking the commencement of the last glacial maximum (LGM) was evident from about 28 ka. There was a mid-LGM interstadial at 23-21.7 ka and Termination 1 occurred around 18.1 ka. The glacial-interglacial transition was marked by a series of negative excursions in ?18O that coincide with dated recessional moraines in South Island glaciers. A late glacial cooling event, the NZ Late Glacial Reversal, occurred from 13.4-11.2 ka and this was followed by an early Holocene optimum at 10.8 ka. Comparison of ?18O records from NWSI and EPICA DML ice-core shows climatic events in New Zealand to lag those in Antarctica by several centuries to a thousand years. Waxing and waning of subantarctic and subtropical oceanic influences in the Tasman Sea are considered the immediate drivers of palaeoclimatic change.

Uranium-series dating of gypsum speleothems: methodology and examples, 2010,
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Sanna L. , Saez F. , Simonsen S. , Constantin S. , Calaforra J. M. , Forti P. , Lauritzen S. E.

The analytical problems of dating gypsum speleothems with the U-series technique are reviewed. Gypsum speleothems are, in general, very low in U content, challenging the limits of detection methods. Various approaches to dissolving gypsum and isolation of actinides from the matrix include ion-pairing dissolution with magnesium salts and using nitric acid. The most precise dating technique is Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS), combined with Fe(OH)3 scavenging and anionic exchange chromatography. Less satisfactory, but much quicker, is direct retention of actinides from HNO3 by means of TRU resin and MC-ICP-MS detection. We have tested these methods on gypsum speleothems from the Sorbas karst in Spain and from the Naica caves in Mexico.


Age frequency distribution and revised stable isotope curves for New Zealand speleothems: palaeoclimatic implication, 2010,
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Williams P. W. , Neil H. , Zhao Jx.

The occurrence of speleothems in New Zealand with reversed magnetism indicates that secondary calcite deposition in caves has occurred for more than 780 thousand years (ka). 394 uranium-series dates on 148 speleothems show that such deposition has taken place somewhere in the country with little interruption for more than 500 ka. A relative probability distribution of speleothem ages indicates that most growth occurred in mild, moist interglacial and interstadial intervals, a conclusion reinforced by comparing peaks and troughs in the distribution with time series curves of speleothem δ18O and δ13C values. The stable isotope time series were constructed using data from 15 speleothems from two different regions of the country. The greater the number of overlapping speleothem series (i.e. the greater the sample depth) for any one region, the more confidence is justified in considering the stacked record to be representative of the region. Revising and extending earlier work, composite records are produced for central-west North Island (CWNI) and north-west South Island (NWSI). Both demonstrate that over the last 15 ka the regions responded similarly to global climatic events, but that the North Island site was also influenced by the waxing and waning of regional subtropical marine influences that penetrated from the north but did not reach the higher latitudes of the South Island. Cooling marking the commencement of the last glacial maximum (LGM) was evident from about 28 ka. There was a mid-LGM interstadial at 23-21.7 ka and Termination 1 occurred around 18.1 ka. The glacial-interglacial transition was marked by a series of negative excursions in δ18O that coincide with dated recessional moraines in South Island glaciers. A late glacial cooling event, the NZ Late Glacial Reversal, occurred from 13.4-11.2 ka and this was followed by an early Holocene optimum at 10.8 ka. Comparison of δ18O records from NWSI and EPICA DML ice-core shows climatic events in New Zealand to lag those in Antarctica by several centuries to a thousand years. Waxing and waning of subantarctic and subtropical oceanic influences in the Tasman Sea are considered the immediate drivers of palaeoclimatic change.


Wachstumsphasen von Stalagmiten im Katerloch (2833/59), 2010,
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Boch R. , Sptl C. , Kramers J.
This article gives an overview on the time intervals in the past documented by absolutely dated stalagmites from Katerloch Cave, one of Austrias most well known and highly decorated dripstone caves. The dating results are compared with those of two other caves in the region, Blasloch and Moos - schacht. Multiple subsamples obtained along the growth axes of eight stalagmites from Katerloch were analyzed by a state-ofthe- art Uranium-Thorium dating technique. In total, 83 individual measurements were conducted, and this data set is currently one of the most comprehensive ones of caves in the Alpine realm. Four stalagmites (K1, K3, K7, K8) and a segment of stalagmite K5 formed during the current warm period (Holocene). K8 started its growth 2.4 kyr before present (1 kyr = 1000 years), i.e. during the Iron Age. Three stalagmites (K1, K3, K7) formed between 11 and 10 kyr, i.e. during the early Holocene, and the largest stalagmite (K7, 170 cm) stopped growing already 6.5 kyr before present. The average growth rate of these samples ranges from 0.2 to 0.7 mm/yr, which is very high compared to typical stalagmites from alpine cave sites. Stalagmites K5 and K6 grew for a few thousand years after ca. 59 and 60 kyr, respectively, i.e. during the last ice age (Wrmian Glacial). The mean growth rates are significantly lower (0.1-0.2 mm/yr). The two oldest of the eight stalagmites studied (K2 and K4) formed since ca. 129 kyr, i.e. during the early Last Interglacial. The mean growth rates (0.5-0.6 mm/yr) were similar to those in the Holocene. In addition, dating of drill cores from large, in-situ stalagmites in Katerloch revealed ages of more than half a million years (Boch et al., 2006a).

Karst, Uranium, Gold and Water Lessons from South Africa for Reconciling Mining Activities and Sustainable Water Use in Semi-arid Karst Areas: A Case Study, 2011,
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Winde, Frank

Despite the fact that much of the water stored in dams and reservoirs is lost to the atmosphere due to prevailing semi-arid conditions, South Africa traditionally relies mainly on surface water. Owing to an ever increasing demand that approaches the limits of economically exploitable surface water, the focus increasingly shifts towards groundwater as a long neglected resource. In this context, dolomitic karst aquifers that store large volumes of water protected from evaporation in vast underground cavities are of particular importance. This even more so as some of these aquifers are located in highly industrialised and densely populated areas such as the Gauteng Province, where water demand by far exceeds local supply and necessitates the expensive import of water from catchments as far as Lesotho. However, owing to impacts related to the century-old, deep-level gold mining that initiated South Africa’s economic development, many of the karst aquifers are currently not usable. Using the Far West Rand goldfield as an example, the extent, type and magnitude of mining-related impacts on dolomitic karst aquifers are analysed. This includes impacts on the geohydrological conditions in the area as well as water availability and ground stability associated with the large-scale dewatering of dolomitic aquifers that overly mine workings. Of particular concern is the mining-related contamination of groundwater and surface water with uranium which accompanies gold in most of the mined ore bodies. Finally, possible scenarios for water-related impacts of future mine closure are outlined and associated research needs identified. 


Eiszeitliche Klimadynamik im Spiegel eines Stalagmiten aus dem Hlloch (Bayern/Vorarlberg) , 2011,
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Sptl C. , Boch R. , Wolf A.
A speleothem recovered from Hlloch Cave located at the border between Germany and Austria that was deposited during the Last Glacial shows prominent layers of silt and clay documenting episodes of extensive cave flooding. Such intermittent flooding events are not known from the modern cave system, although some galleries are situated in the epiphreatic zone. According to Uranium-Thorium age determinations of 13 calcite subsamples, stalagmite growth started around 62 kyr (= 62,000 years) before present and ended 40 kyr ago, i.e. the only 41 cm-tall stalagmite comprises a time interval of ca. 20 kyr during the Last Glacial. Fin-like extensions in the lower part of the stalagmite document calcite deposition competing with the aggradation of coarsegrained sand. U-Th dates in combination with the internal structure of the stalagmite constrain the age of this period of clastic sedimentation by the cave stream to between 62 and 46 kyr. In addition, the stalagmite also reveals several layers of silty clay documenting growth interruptions as a result of prolonged flood events. Highresolution oxygen isotope measurements along the stalagmite growth axis highlight abrupt alternations of warmer and colder climate conditions during the Last Glacial period. The flooding events occurred preferentially at the end of the relatively short warm phases (interstadials) and at the onset of the subsequent cooling episodes (stadials).

Uranium Series Dating of Speleothems, 2012,
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Sptl Christoph, Boch Ronny

Radioactive decay of uranium and thorium isotopes at constant rates provides a tool to determine the age of speleothems with high precision and accuracy. As with any dating method, a fundamental prerequisite is the lack of post-depositional alteration, that is, no gain or loss of isotopes within the decay chain of interest. Using state-of-the-art instrumentation, this method allows dating speleothems between essentially zero and ca. 600,000 years before present. Multiple age determinations are typically performed along the extension axis of a stalagmite to decipher its detailed growth history. Uranium series chronology of speleothems not only provides useful constraints on speleogenetic processes, but forms the backbone of the increasingly important scientific field using stalagmites (and less commonly flowstone) as paleoenvironmental archives.


Radionuclides as natural tracers for the characterization of fluids in regional discharge areas, Buda Thermal Karst, Hungary, 2012,
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Eross A. , Mdlszonyi J. , Surbeck H. , Horvth . , Goldscheider N. , Csoma A. .

The Buda Thermal Karst (Budapest, Hungary) developed in the regional discharge zone of a carbonate rock aquifer system. High radioactivity of the spring waters has already been reported in 1912, but there has been no detailed study and no consistent explanation for its origin. In this area mixing of cold and hot karst waters was hitherto assigned to be responsible for cave formation. However, the dissimilarity of the discharging waters within Budapest (in the North: Rozsadomb; in the South: Gellert Hill), may suggest also different cave forming processes. The application of radionuclides as natural tracers represents a novel approach to investigate these questions. For this study, we used uranium, radium and radon to identify mixing of fluids in the Buda Thermal Karst system and to infer the temperature and chemical composition of the end members. Chloride as a conservative component allowed the mixing ratios for the sampled waters to be calculated. Their fluid compositions were modeled and through the comparison of modeled and measured values, the end members were validated. As the result of this study, it was possible to characterize the mixing end members for the Rozsadomb area, whereas for the Gellert Hill discharge zone, mixing components could not be identified with the aid of radionuclides. Therefore, it is suggested that different processes are responsible for cave formation in these areas. In the Rozsadomb area, structurally-controlled mixing is the dominant cave forming process, whereas in the Gellert Hill area, due to the lack of mixing members, other processes have to be found, which are responsible for the formation of the caves, such as retrograde calcite solubility and/or geogenic acids, such as H2S. The application of radionuclides thus further supported the differences between the two study areas. This study identified moreover the source of elevated radon content of the waters in the Gellert Hill area in form of iron-hydroxide precipitates that accumulate in the spring caves. These precipitates are highly efficient in adsorbing radium, which generates radon by alpha decay, and hence act as local radon source for the waters. In this study we showed that uranium, radium and radon naturally occurring in groundwater can be used to characterize fluids of different flow systems in regional discharge areas owing to the contrasting geochemical behaviors of these elements


Fledermausfunde aus dem Gamslcher-Kolowrat-Salzburgerschacht-System (1339/1) des Untersbergs bei Salzburg, 2012,
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Sptl C. , Zagler G. , Bauer K. , Mangini A. , Bieniok A.
Bat bones preserved in sediment layers of the remote parts of the Gamslcher- Kolowrat-Salzburgerschacht system (Untersberg, south of the city of Salzburg) yielded an age in excess of 400,000 years based on four uranium-thorium dates obtained on intercalated flowstone. The bones belong to Myotis bechsteinii (Bechsteins bat). A second profile which lacks flowstone layers but shows a similar sediment stratigraphy contained remains of M. bechsteinii, M. nattereri (Natterers bat) und M. cf. brandti (Brandts bat). The latter bones show evidence of biting and chewing by marten. A well preserved mummy of M. mystacinus (Whiskered bat) found on top of sediments in a third locality of this extensive cave system was dated to 3632-3559 years BC using radiocarbon (calibrated age range). This date demonstrates that the aridity that characterises these remote cave passages and the ventilation regime have prevailed since a least the Middle Holocene.

Incision history of Glenwood Canyon, Colorado, USA, from the uranium-series analyses of water-table speleothems, 2013,
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Polyak V. J. , Duchene H. , Davis D. G. , Palmer A. N. Palmer M. V. Asmerom Y.

Uranium-series analyses of water-table-type speleothems from Glenwood Cavern and “cavelets” near the town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, USA, yield incision rates of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon for the last ~1.4 My. The incision rates, calculated from dating cave mammillary and cave folia calcite situated 65 and 90 m above the Colorado River, are 174 ± 30 m/My for the last 0.46 My and 144 ± 30 m/My for the last 0.62 My, respectively. These are consistent with incision rates determined from nearby volcanic deposits. In contrast, δ 234U model ages (1.39 ± 0.25 My; 1.36 ± 0.25 My; and 1.72 ± 0.25 My) from three different samples of mammillary-like subaqueous crust collected from Glenwood Cavern, 375 m above the Colorado River, yield incision rates of 271 +58/-41 m/My, 277 +61/-42 m/ My, and 218 +36/-27 m/My. These data suggest a relatively fast incision rate between roughly 3 and 1 Ma. The onset of Pleistocene glaciation may have influenced this rate by increasing precipitation on the Colorado Plateau starting at 2.5 Ma. Slowing of incision just before 0.6 Ma could be related to the change in frequency of glacial cycles from 40 to 100 kyr in the middle Pleistocene. This interpretation would suggest that the cutting power of the Colorado River prior to 3 Ma was smaller. An alternative interpretation involving tectonic activity would invoke an episode of fast uplift in the Glenwood Canyon region from 3 to 1 Ma.


A multi-method approach for speleogenetic research on alpine karst caves. Torca La Texa shaft, Picos de Europa (Spain), 2014,
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Speleogenetic research on alpine caves has advanced significantly during the last decades. These investigations require techniques from different geoscience disciplines that must be adapted to the methodological constraints of working in deep caves. The Picos de Europa mountains are one of the most important alpine karsts, including 14% of the World’s Deepest Caves (caves with more than 1 km depth). A speleogenetic research is currently being developed in selected caves in these mountains; one of them, named Torca La Texa shaft, is the main goal of this article. For this purpose, we have proposed both an optimized multi-method approach for speleogenetic research in alpine caves, and a speleogenetic model of the Torca La Texa shaft. The methodology includes: cave surveying, dye-tracing, cave geometry analyses, cave geomorphological mapping, Uranium series dating (234U/230Th) and geomorphological, structural and stratigraphical studies of the cave surroundings. The SpeleoDisc method was employed to establish the structural control of the cavity. Torca La Texa (2,653 m length, 215 m depth) is an alpine cave formed by two cave levels, vadose canyons and shafts, soutirage conduits, and gravity-modified passages. The cave was formed prior to the Middle Pleistocene and its development was controlled by the drop of the base level, producing the development of the two cave levels. Coevally to the cave levels formation, soutirage conduits originated connecting phreatic and epiphreatic conduits and vadose canyons and shafts were formed. Most of the shafts were created before the local glacial maximum, (43-45 ka) and only two cave passages are related to dolines developed in recent times. The cave development is strongly related to the structure, locating the cave in the core of a gentle fold with the conduits’ geometry and orientation controlled by the bedding and five families of joints.


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