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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 peneplain is a degradation surface without relief [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;
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Your search for ages (Keyword) returned 900 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 886 to 900 of 900
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.


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.


Sulphuric acid speleogenesis and landscape evolution: Montecchio cave, Albegna river valley (Southern Tuscany, Italy), 2015,
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Piccini Leonardo, De Waele Jo, Galli Ermanno, Polyak Victor J. , Bernasconi Stefano M. Asmerom Yemane

Montecchio cave (Grosseto province, Tuscany, Italy) opens at 320 m asl, in a small outcrop of Jurassic limestone (Calcare Massiccio Fm.), close to the Albegna river. This area is characterised by the presence of several thermal springs and the outcropping of travertine deposits at different altitudes. The Montecchio cave, with passage length development of over 1700 m, is characterised by the presence of several sub-horizontal passages and many medium- and small-scale morphologies indicative of sulphuric acid speleogenesis (SAS). The thermal aquifer is intercepted at a depth of about 100 m below the entrance: the water temperature exceeds 30 °C and sulphate content is over 1300 mg l−1. The cave hosts large gypsumdeposits from40 to 100mbelowthe entrance that are by-products of the reaction between sulphuric acid and the carbonate host rock. The lower part of the cave hosts over 1 m thick calcite cave raft deposits, which are evidence of long-standing, probably thermal, water in an evaporative environment related to significant air currents.

Sulphur isotopes of gypsum have negative δ34S values (from−28.3 to−24.2‰), typical of SAS. Calcite cave rafts and speleogenetic gypsumboth yield young U/Th ages varying from68.5 ka to 2 ka BP, indicating a rapid phase of dewatering followed by gypsum precipitation in aerate environment. This fastwater table lowering is related to a rapid incision of the nearby Albegna river, and was followed by a 20–30 m fluctuation of the thermal water table, as recorded in the calcite raft deposits and gypsum crusts.


Long-term erosion rate measurements in gypsum caves of Sorbas (SE Spain) by the Micro-Erosion Meter method, 2015,
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Sanna Laura, De Waele Jo, Calaforra José Maria, Forti Paolo

The present work deals with the results of long-term micro-erosion measurements in the most important gypsum cave of Spain, the Cueva del Agua (Sorbas, Almeria, SE Spain). Nineteen MEM stations were positioned in 1992 in a wide range of morphological and environmental settings (gypsum floors and walls, carbonate speleothems, dry conduits and vadose passages) inside and outside the cave, on gypsum and carbonate bedrocks and exposed to variable degree of humidity, different air flowand hydrodynamic conditions. Four different sets of stations have been investigated: (1) the main cave entrance (Las Viñicas spring); (2) the main river passage; (3) the abandoned Laboratory tunnel; and (4) the external gypsum surface. Data over a period of about 18 years are available. The average lowering rates vary from 0.014 to 0.016 mm yr−1 near the main entrance and in the Laboratory tunnel, to 0.022 mm −1 on gypsum floors and 0.028 mm yr−1 on carbonate flowstones. 

The denudation data from the external gypsum stations are quite regular with a rate of 0.170 mm yr−1. The observations allowed the collecting of important information concerning the feeding of the karst aquifer not only by infiltrating rainwater, but under present climate conditions also by water condensation of moist air flow. This contribution to the overall karst processes in the Cueva del Agua basin represents over 20% of the total chemical dissolution of the karst area and more than 50% of the speleogenetically removed gypsum in the cave system, thus representing all but a secondary role in speleogenesis. Condensation–corrosion is most active along the medium walls, being slower at the roof and almost absent close to the floor. This creates typical corrosion morphologies such as cupola, while gypsum flowers develop where evaporation dominates. This approach also shows quantitatively the morphological implications of condensation–corrosion processes in gypsum karst systems in arid zones, responsible for an average surface lowering of 0.047 mm yr−1, while mechanical erosion produces a lowering of 0.123 mm yr−1.


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.


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.


Superposed folding and associated fracturing influence hypogene karst development in Neoproterozoic carbonates, São Francisco Craton, Brazil, 2015,
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Porosity and permeability along fractured zones in carbonates could be significantly enhanced by ascending fluid flow, resulting in hypogene karst development. This work presents a detailed structural analysis of the longest cave system in South America to investigate the relationship between patterns of karst conduits and regional deformation. Our study area encompasses the Toca da Boa Vista (TBV) and Toca da Barriguda (TBR) caves, which are ca. 107 km and 34 km long, respectively. This cave system occurs in Neoproterozoic carbonates of the Salitre Formation in the northern part of the São Francisco Craton, Brazil. The fold belts that are around and at the craton edges were deformed in a compressive setting during the Brasiliano orogeny between 750 and 540 Ma. Based on the integrated analysis of the folds and brittle deformation in the caves and in outcrops of the surrounding region, we show the following: (1) The caves occur in a tectonic transpressive corridor along a regional thrust belt; (2) major cave passages, at the middle storey of the system, considering both length and frequency, developed laterally along mainly (a) NE–SW to E–W and (b) N to S oriented anticline hinges; (3) conduitswere formed by dissolutional enlargement of subvertical joints,which present a high concentration along anticline hinges due to folding of competent grainstone layers; (4) the first folding event F1was previously documented in the region and corresponds with NW–SE- to N–S-trending compression, whereas the second event F2, documented for the first time in the present study, is related to E–Wcompression; and (5) both folding  еvents occurred during the Brasiliano orogeny. We conclude that fluid flow and related dissolution pathways have a close relationship with regional deformation events, thus enhancing our ability to predict karst patterns in layered carbonates.


Hypogenic origin, geologic controls and functional organization of a giant cave system in Precambrian carbonates, Brazil, 2015,
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This study is focused on speleogenesis of the Toca da Boa Vista (TBV) and Toca da Barriguda (TBR), the longest caves in South America occurring in the Neoproterozoic Salitre Formation in the São Francisco Craton, NE Brazil. We employ a multidisciplinary approach integrating detailed speleomorphogenetic, lithostratigraphic and geological structure studies in order to reveal the origin of the caves, their functional organization and geologic controls on their development. The caves developed in deep-seated confined conditions by rising flow. The overall fields of passages of TBV and TBR caves represent a speleogenetically exploited large NE–SW-trending fracture corridor associated with a major thrust. This corridor vertically extends across the Salitre Formation allowing the rise of deep fluids. In the overall ascending flow system, the formation of the cave pattern was controlled by a system of sub-parallel anticlines and troughs with NNE–SSWdominant orientation, and by vertical and lateral heterogeneities in fracture distribution. Three cave-stratigraphic stories reflect the actual hydrostratigraphy during the main phase of speleogenesis. Cavities at different stories are distinct inmorphology and functioning. The gross tree-dimensional pattern of the system is effectively organized to conduct rising flow in deep-seated confined conditions. Cavities in the lower story developed as recharge components to the system. A laterally extensive conduit network in the middle story formed because the vertical flow from numerous recharge points has been redirected laterally along the highly conductive unit, occurring below the major seal - a scarcely fractured unit. Rift-like and shaft-like conduits in the upper story developed along fracturecontrolled outflow paths, breaching the integrity of the major seal, and served as outlets for the cave system. The cave system represents a series of vertically organized, functionally largely independent clusters of cavities developed within individual ascending flow cells. Lateral integration of clusters occurred due to hydrodynamic interaction between the flow cells in course of speleogenetic evolution and change of boundary conditions. The main speleogenetic phase, during which the gross cave pattern has been established and the caves acquired most of their volume, was likely related to rise of deep fluids at about 520 Ma or associated with rifting and the Pangea break-up in Triassic–Cretaceous. This study highlights the importance of speleogenetic studies for interpreting porosity and permeability features in carbonate reservoirs.


Hidden sinkholes and karst cavities in the travertine plateau of a highly-populated geothermal seismic territory (Tivoli, central Italy), 2015,
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Sinkholes and other karst structures in settled carbonate lands can be a significant source of hazard for humans and human works. Acque Albule, the study area of this work, is a Plio-Pleistocene basin near Rome, central Italy, superficially filled by a large and thick deposit of late Pleistocene thermogene travertine. Human activities blanket large portions of the flat territory covering most evidence from geological surface processes and potentially inducing scientists and public officials to underestimate some natural hazards including those connected with sinkholes. To contribute to the proper assessment of these hazards, a geomorphologic study of the basin was performed using digital elevation models (DEMs), recent aerial photographs, and field surveys. Historical material such as old aerial photographs and past geomorphologic studies both pre-dating the most part of quarrying and village building was also used together with memories of the elderly population. This preliminary study pointed out the presence of numerous potentially active sinkholes that are at present largely masked by either quarrying or overbuilding. Where this first study pointed out the apparent absence of sinkholes in areas characterized by high density of buildings, a detailed subsurface study was performed using properly-calibrated electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and dynamic penetration measurements (DPSH), together with some borehole logs made available from the local municipality. This second study highlighted the presence of sinkholes and caves that are, this time, substantially hidden to the resolution of standard methods and materials such as aerial photographs, DEMs, and field surveys. Active sinkhole subsidence in the Acque Albule Basin may explain, at least in part, the frequent damages that affect numerous buildings in the area. The main conclusion from this study is that the mitigation of sinkhole hazard in highly populated areas has to pass through a thorough search of (hidden) sinkholes that can be masked by the Anthropocenic molding and blanketing of the territory. For these purposes, data from historical (pre-Anthropocene) documents as well as, where possible, subsurface investigations are fundamental.


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,
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Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2 soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic.

The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systemati­cally. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2 and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmo­spheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (mar­ginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the me­teoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns

can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convectionand condensation-corrosion.

Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,
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Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2 soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic.

The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systemati­cally. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2 and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmo­spheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (mar­ginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the me­teoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns

can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convectionand condensation-corrosion.

Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,
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Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2 soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic.

The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systemati­cally. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2 and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmo­spheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (mar­ginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the me­teoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns

can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convectionand condensation-corrosion.

Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,
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Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2 soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic.

The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systemati­cally. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2 and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmo­spheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (mar­ginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the me­teoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns

can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convectionand condensation-corrosion.

Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.


Bullita cave system, Judbarra / Gregory Karst, tropical Australia, 2016,
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In the monsoon tropics of northern Australia, Bullita Cave is the largest (123 km) of a group of extensive, horizontal, joint-controlled, dense network maze caves which are epikarst systems lying at shallow depth beneath a well-developed karrenfield. The Judbarra / Gregory Karst and its caves are restricted to the outcrop belt of the thin, sub-horizontal, Proterozoic Supplejack Dolostone. Karst is further restricted to those parts of the Supplejack that have escaped a secondary dolomitisation event. The karrenfield and underlying cave system are intimately related and have developed in step as the Supplejack surface was exposed by slope retreat. Both show a lateral zonation of development grading from youth to old age. Small cave passages originate under the recently exposed surface, and the older passages at the trailing edge become unroofed or destroyed as the, by then deeply-incised, karrenfield breaks up into isolated ruiniform blocks and pinnacles. Vertical development of the cave has been generally restricted to the epikarst zone by a 3m bed of impermeable and incompetent shale beneath the Supplejack which first perched the water-table, forming incipient phreatic passages above it, and later was eroded by vadose flow to form an extensive horizontal system of passages 10-20m below the karren surface. Some lower cave levels in underlying dolostone occur adjacent to recently incised surface gorges. Speleogenesis is also influenced by the rapid, diffuse, vertical inflow of storm water through the karrenfield, and by ponding of the still-aggressive water within the cave during the wet season – dammed up by “levees” of sediment that accumulate beneath the degraded trailing edge of the karrenfield. The soil, and much biological activity, is not at the bare karren surface, but down on the cave floors, which aids epikarstic solution at depth rather than on the surface.


Calculating flux to predict future cave radon concentrations, 2016,
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Rowberry Matt, Marti Xavi, Frontera Carlos, Van De Wiel Marco, Briestensky Milos

Cave radon concentration measurements reflect the outcome of a perpetual competition which pitches flux against ventilation and radioactive decay. The mass balance equations used to model changes in radon concentration through time routinely treat flux as a constant. This mathematical simplification is acceptable as a first order approximation despite the fact that it sidesteps an intrinsic geological problem: the majority of radon entering a cavity is exhaled as a result of advection along crustal discontinuities whose motions are inhomogeneous in both time and space. In this paper the dynamic nature of flux is investigated and the results are used to predict cave radon concentration for successive iterations. The first part of our numerical modelling procedure focuses on calculating cave air flow velocity while the second part isolates flux in a mass balance equation to simulate real time dependence among the variables. It is then possible to use this information to deliver an expression for computing cave radon concentration for successive iterations. The dynamic variables in the numerical model are represented by the outer temperature, the inner temperature, and the radon concentration while the static variables are represented by the radioactive decay constant and a range of parameters related to geometry of the cavity. Input data were recorded at Driny Cave in the Little Carpathians Mountains of western Slovakia. Here the cave passages have developed along splays of the NE-SW striking Smolenice Fault and a series of transverse faults striking NW-SE. Independent experimental observations of fault slip are provided by three permanently installed mechanical extensometers. Our numerical modelling has revealed four important flux anomalies between January 2010 and August 2011. Each of these flux anomalies was preceded by conspicuous fault slip anomalies. The mathematical procedure outlined in this paper will help to improve our understanding of radon migration along crustal discontinuities and its subsequent exhalation into the atmosphere. Furthermore, as it is possible to supply the model with continuous data, future research will focus on establishing a series of underground monitoring sites with the aim of generating the first real time global radon flux maps.


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