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Enviroscan Ukrainian Institute of Speleology and Karstology


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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 biological clock is an inherited timemeasuring process within a living thing, which governs its responses to certain external events [23].?

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 13c (Keyword) returned 117 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 106 to 117 of 117
Carbon and oxygen isotopic composition of the Middle Miocene Badenian gypsum-associated limestones of West Ukraine, 2012,
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Peryt T. M. , Durakiewicz T. , Peryt D. , Poberezhskyy A.

The middle Miocene Badenian basin of the Carpathian Foredeep is characterized by complex sedimentary and diagenetic carbonate-evaporite transitions. Six locations have been selected to evaluate the controls on the carbonand oxygen isotopic composition of the Badenian gypsum-associated limestones of the Tyras Formation in WestUkraine. At three locations marine limestones overlie the gypsum, at one location (Anadoly) the gypsum-associatedlimestones are polygenic, and at two localities (Pyshchatyntsi and Lozyna) gypsum deposits are lacking. Thestudied limestones have originated as primary, mostly peloidal carbonates as well as secondary carbonates formed by hypogene sulphate calcitisation. They show a wide range of δ13C (from from -0.9‰ to -39.8‰) and δ18O values(from 0.9‰ to -12.2‰). The Badenian limestones formed in marine environments (either as deposits accumulatedat the bottom of the sea or forming the infillings of solution cavities within gypsum) have less negative δ18O values compared to predominantly diagenetic formations. Wide ranges and usually very negative δ13C values andlow δ18O values of those limestones indicate that they suffered important meteoric diagenesis as supported bycommon sparitic fabrics. In addition, a large range of δ13C values even in the group of samples characterized byless-negative δ18O values shows that bacterial sulphate reduction and methane oxidation were active processes inthe pore fluids of the Tyras Formation. Very low carbon isotopic compositions (δ13C values from -22 to -40‰) of some sparitic limestones in the studied sections indicate the occurrence of oxidized methane within the diagenetic environment. Accordingly, the isotopic signatures of the studied limestones are a combination of both primary and secondary processes, the latter having a primordial importance. The common occurrence of similar negative δ13Cand δ18O values in evaporite-related carbonates in other Miocene evaporite basins suggest that extensive dissolution-reprecipitation in diagenetic or vadose-phreatic environments were common in evaporite-related carbonates.


Carbon and oxygen isotopic composition of the Middle Miocene Badenian gypsum-associated limestones of West Ukraine, 2012,
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Peryt T. M. , Durakiewicz T. , Peryt D. , Poberezhskyy A.

The middle Miocene Badenian basin of the Carpathian Foredeep is characterized by complex sedimentary and diagenetic carbonate-evaporite transitions. Six locations have been selected to evaluate the controls on the carbonand oxygen isotopic composition of the Badenian gypsum-associated limestones of the Tyras Formation in WestUkraine. At three locations marine limestones overlie the gypsum, at one location (Anadoly) the gypsum-associatedlimestones are polygenic, and at two localities (Pyshchatyntsi and Lozyna) gypsum deposits are lacking. Thestudied limestones have originated as primary, mostly peloidal carbonates as well as secondary carbonates formed by hypogene sulphate calcitisation. They show a wide range of δ13C (from from -0.9‰ to -39.8‰) and δ18O values(from 0.9‰ to -12.2‰). The Badenian limestones formed in marine environments (either as deposits accumulatedat the bottom of the sea or forming the infillings of solution cavities within gypsum) have less negative δ18O values compared to predominantly diagenetic formations. Wide ranges and usually very negative δ13C values andlow δ18O values of those limestones indicate that they suffered important meteoric diagenesis as supported bycommon sparitic fabrics. In addition, a large range of δ13C values even in the group of samples characterized byless-negative δ18O values shows that bacterial sulphate reduction and methane oxidation were active processes inthe pore fluids of the Tyras Formation. Very low carbon isotopic compositions (δ13C values from -22 to -40‰) of some sparitic limestones in the studied sections indicate the occurrence of oxidized methane within the diagenetic environment. Accordingly, the isotopic signatures of the studied limestones are a combination of both primary and secondary processes, the latter having a primordial importance. The common occurrence of similar negative δ13Cand δ18O values in 


Stable isotope (O and C) geochemistry of non-sulfide ZnPb deposits; case study: Chah-Talkh non-sulfide ZnPb deposit (Sirjan, south of Iran), 2013,
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Rezaeian A. , Rasa I. , Amiri A. , Jafari M. R.

The study of oxygen and carbon isotopic ratios has gained importance to determine the origin of ore-bearing fluids, carbon origin, and also to determine the formation temperature of non-sulfide Pb and Zn minerals. In order to determine the origin of fluids and carbon existing in Zn carbonate minerals in Chah-Talkh deposit, initially the amounts of δ18OSMOW and δ13CPDB changes in various zinc minerals in important deposits in Iran and the world were studied, and then by comparing these values in Chah-Talkh deposit with those of other deposits, the origin of fluids responsible for ore forming, carbon, and formation temperature of Chah-Talkh deposit was determined. The range of δ18OSMOW changes in smithsonite mineral in non-sulfide lead and zinc deposits varies from 18.3 to 31.6 ‰, and δ18OSMOW in hydrozincite mineral varies from 7.8 to 27 ‰. Due to the impossibility of smithsonite sampling from Chah-Talkh deposit (due to it being fine-grained and dispersed), hydrozincite minerals which have high isotopic similarities with smithsonite are used for the isotopic analysis of carbon and oxygen. The range of δ18OSMOW changes in hydrozincite mineral of Chah-Talkh deposit varies from 7.8 to 15.15‰, which places in the domain of metamorphic water. The extensiveness of δ18OSMOW changes in Chah- Talkh indicates the role of at least two fluids in the formation of non-sulfide minerals. The obtained formation temperature of non-sulfide minerals (hydrozincite) in Chah- Talkh deposit is 70 to 100 °C, which indicates the role of metamorphic fluids in the formation of deposit. Complete weathering of sulfide minerals to a depth of 134 m confirms the role of rising metamorphic fluids in the formation of non-sulfide minerals. The δ13CPDB values of Chah-Talkh deposit are set in the range of atmospheric CO2 and carbonate rocks, in which the existence of atmospheric CO2 indicates the role of atmospheric fluids, and the existence of carbonate carbon rock indicates of the role of metamorphic fluids in the precipitation of non-sulfide Zn minerals.


Concentration and stable carbon isotopic composition of CO2 in cave air of Postojnska jama, Slovenia, 2013,
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Mandić, M. , Mihevc A. , Leis A, Krajcar Bronić, I.

 

Partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and its isotopic composition (δ13CairCO2) were measured in Postojnska jama, Slovenia, at 10 locations inside the cave and outside the cave during a one-year period. At all interior locations the pCO2 was higher and δ13CairCO2 lower than in the outside atmosphere. Strong seasonal fluctuations in both parameters were observed at locations deeper in the cave, which are isolated from the cave air circulation. By using a binary mixing model of two sources of CO2, one of them being the atmospheric CO2, we show that the excess of CO2 in the cave air has a δ13C value of -23.3 ± 0.7 ‰, in reasonable agreement with the previously measured soil-CO2 δ13C values. The stable isotope data suggest that soil CO2 is brought to the cave by drip water.


Isotopically altered wallrock of the hypogene conduits in the Crimean Piedmont, Ukraine, 2013,
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Klimchouk A. , Dublyansky Y. , Tymokhina E. , Sptl Ch.

The Crimean Piedmont stretches along the tectonic suture separating the fold-and-thrust structure of the Crimean Mountains from the Scythian Plate. It comprises two cuesta-like ridges whose structural slopes are built up of homoclinal limestone beds of the Paleocene- Eocene (the Inner Range), and the Neogene (the Outer Range) ages. Abundant relicts of the hypogene karst have been identified recently in steep cuesta cliffs of the Piedmont. The hypogene cavities formed in confined to semi-confined hydrological conditions due to interaction of the deep-seated waters, ascending along cross-formational fracture conduits, with the strata-bound lateral filtration flow. The ongoing geomorphological dissection of the stratified structure of the Piedmont com-monly follows the pre-formed hypogene conduits, resulting in the development of the pronounced cuesta relief with steep cliffs featuring massive exposure of the hypogene karst conduit paleo-walls with specific morphologies.
Movement of deep-seated fluids through carbonate wallrock may cause isotopic altera-tion of the later. We have studied isotopic composition of C and O along nine cores drilled into the walls of the cliffs decorated with hypogene solutional features, as well as in two hypogene caves. Data from all cores show the presence of a wide isotopic altera-tion halo, whose thickness exceeds the core length (max. 40 cm). In this zone, the rock is slightly depleted in δ18 (ca. 1 -2 ‰) relative to the “pristine”, unchanged values of a given rock unit. In most cores the rock is also depleted in 13 but two cores show high-er 13C values. In addition to this low-gradient alteration, most of the cores also show a narrow (4-50 mm) zone of the high-gradient alteration, across which δ18 and δ13 drop by respectively, 2.0–4.9 ‰ and 0.7–4.5 ‰. At three localities, the walls of the hypogene cavities were coated with phreatic calcite. Isotopic composition of this calcite corresponds to the lowermost values of the altered rock. In one core, the rock in the high-gradient alteration zone is depleted in 18 but enriched in 13. In yet another core the rock is enriched in both 18 and 13. The results corroborate the hypogenic origin of conduits and suggest that the wallrock was exposed to, and interacted with, geo-chemically different waters after the main volume of cavities had been created by disso-lution.


Environmental controls on organic matter production and transport across surface-subsurface and geochemical boundaries in the Edwards aquifer, Texas, USA, 2013,
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Hutchins Benjamin T. , Schwartz Benjamin F. , Engel Annette S.

Karst aquifer phreatic zones are energy limited habitats supported by organic matter (OM) flow across physical and geochemical boundaries. Photosynthetic OM enters the Edwards Aquifer of Central Texas via streams sinking along its northeastern border. The southeastern boundary is marked by a rapid transition between oxygenated freshwaters and anoxic saline waters where OM is likely produced by chemolithoautotrophic microbes. Spatial and temporal heterogeneity in OM composition at these boundaries was investigated using isotopic and geochemical analyses. δ13C values for stream fine particulate OM (FPOM) (−33.34‰ to −11.47‰) decreased during regional drought between fall 2010 and spring 2012 (p<0.001), and were positively related to FPOM C:N ratios (r2 =0.47, p<0.001), possibly due to an increasing contribution of periphyton. Along the freshwater-saline water interface (FwSwI), δ 13CFPOM values (−7.23‰ to −58.18‰) correlated to δ13C values for dissolved inorganic carbon (δ13C DIC) (−0.55‰ to −7.91‰) (r2 =0.33, p=0.005) and were depleted relative to δ13C DIC values by 28.44‰, similar to fractionation values attributed to chemolithoautotrophic carbon fixation pathways using DIC as the substrate. δ13CFPOM values also became enriched through time (p<0.001), and δ13C DIC values (r2 =0.43, p<0.001) and δ13CFPOM values (r2 =0.35, p=0.004) at FwSwI sites increased with distance along the southwest-northeast flowpath of the aquifer. Spatial variability in FwSwI δ13C DIC values is likely due to variable sources of acidity driving carbonate dissolution, and the temporal relationship is explained by changes to recharge and aquifer level that affected transport of chemolithoautotrophic OM across the FwSwI.


Using isotopes of dissolved inorganic carbon species and water to separate sources of recharge in a cave spring, northwestern Arkansas, USA Blowing Spring Cave, 2013,
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Knierim Katherine J. , Pollock Erik, Hays Phillip D.

Blowing Spring Cave in northwestern Arkansas is representative of cave systems in the karst of the Ozark Plateaus, and stable isotopes of water (δ18O and δ2H) and inorganic carbon (δ13C) were used to quantify soil-water, bedrock-matrix water, and precipitation contributions to cave-spring flow during storm events to understand controls on cave water quality. water samples from recharge-zone soils and the cave were collected from March to May 2012 to implement a multicomponent hydrograph separation approach using δ18O and δ2H of water and dissolved inorganic carbon (δ13C–DIC). During baseflow, median δ2H and δ18O compositions were –41.6‰ and –6.2‰ for soil water and were –37.2‰ and –5.9‰ for cave water, respectively. Median DIC concentrations for soil and cave waters were 1.8 mg/L and 25.0 mg/L, respectively, and median δ 13C–DIC compositions were –19.9‰ and –14.3‰, respectively. During a March storm event, 12.2 cm of precipitation fell over 82 h and discharge increased from 0.01 to 0.59 m3 /s. The isotopic composition of precipitation varied throughout the storm event because of rainout, a change of 50‰ and 10‰ for δ2H and δ18O was observed, respectively. Although, at the spring, δ2H and δ18O only changed by approximately 3‰ and 1‰, respectively. The isotopic compositions of precipitation and pre-event (i.e., soil and bedrock matrix) water were isotopically similar and the two-component hydrograph separation was inaccurate, either overestimating (>100%) or underestimating (<0%) the precipitation contribution to the spring. During the storm event, spring DIC and δ13C–DIC de- creased to a minimum of 8.6 mg/L and –16.2‰, respectively. If the contribution from precipitation was assumed to be zero, soil water was found to contribute between 23 to 72% of the total volume of discharge. Although the assumption of negligible contributions from precipitation is unrealistic, especially in karst systems where rapid flow through conduits occurs, the hydrograph separation using inorganic carbon highlights the importance of considering vadose-zone soil water when analyzing storm chemohydrographs.  


Groundwater geochemistry observations in littoral caves of Mallorca (western Mediterranean): implications for deposition of phreatic overgrowths on speleothems., 2014,
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Boop L. M. , Onac B. P. , Wynn J. G. , Fornós J. J. , Rodríguezhomar M. , Merino A.

Phreatic overgrowths on speleothems (POS) precipitate at the air-water interface in the littoral caves of Mallorca, Spain. Mainly composed of calcite, aragonite POS are also observed in specific locations. To characterize the geochemical environment of the brackish upper water column, water samples and salinity values were collected from water profiles (0-2.9 m) in April 2012 and March 2013 near aragonite POS in Cova des Pas de Vallgornera and calcite POS in Coves del Drac (hereafter, Vallgornera and Drac). Degassing of CO2 from the water was evidenced by the existence of lower dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentration and enriched δ13CDIC values in a thin surface layer (the uppermost 0.4 m), which was observed in both profiles from Drac. This process is facilitated by the efficient exchange of cave air with the atmosphere, creating a CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) disparity between the cave water and air, resulting in the precipitation of calcite POS as CO2 degasses from the water. The degassed upper layer was not observed in either profile from Vallgornera, suggesting that less efficient cave ventilation restricts outgassing of CO2, which also results in accumulation of CO2 in the cave atmosphere. The presence of an existing uncorroded POS horizon, as well as higher concentrations and large amplitude fluctuations of cave air pCO2, may indicate that aragonite POS deposition is currently episodic in Vallgornera. Ion concentration data from monthly water samples collected in each cave between October 2012 and March 2013 indicate higher Mg:Ca, Sr:Ca, Ba:Ca and Sr:Mg ratios in Vallgornera. Salinity alone does not appear to be a viable proxy for ions that may promote aragonite precipitation or inhibit calcite precipitation. Instead, these ions may be contributed by more intense bedrock weathering or deep groundwater flow.


Stable isotope data as constraints on models for the origin of coralloid and massive speleothems: The interplay of substrate, water supply, degassing, and evaporation, 2015,
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Caddeo Guglielmo A. , Railsback L. Bruce, Dewaele Jo, Frau Franco

Many speleothems can be assigned to one of two morphological groups: massive speleothems, which consist of compact bulks of material, and coralloids, which are domal to digitate in form. Faster growth on protrusions of the substrate occurs in the typical growth layers of coralloids (where those layers are termed “coralloid accretions”), but it is not observed in the typical layers of massive speleothems, which in contrast tend to smoothen the speleothem surface (and can therefore be defined as "smoothing accretions"). The different growth rates on different areas of the substrate are explainable by various mechanisms of CaCO3 deposition (e.g., differential aerosol deposition, differential CO2 and/or H2O loss from a capillary film of solution, deposition in subaqueous environments). To identify the causes of formation of coralloids rather than massive speleothems, this article provides data about d13C and d18O at coeval points of both smoothing and coralloid accretions, examining the relationship between isotopic composition and the substrate morphology. In subaerial speleothems, data show an enrichment in heavy isotopes both along the direction of water flow and toward the protrusions. The first effect is due to H2O evaporation and CO2 degassing during a gravity-driven flow of water (gravity stage) and is observed in smoothing accretions; the second effect is due to evaporation and degassing during water movement by capillary action from recesses to prominences (capillary stage) and is observed in subaerial coralloids. Both effects coexist in smoothing accretions interspersed among coralloid ones (intermediate stage). Thus this study supports the origin of subaerial coralloids from dominantly capillary water and disproves their origin by deposition of aerosol from the cave air. On the other hand, subaqueous coralloids seem to form by a differential mass-transfer from a still bulk of water towards different zones of the substrate along diffusion flux vectors of nutrients perpendicular to the isodepleted surfaces. Finally, this isotopic method has proved useful to investigate the controls on speleothem morphology and to obtain additional insights on the evolution of aqueous solutions inside caves.


Stable isotope data as constraints on models for the origin of coralloid and massive speleothems: The interplay of substrate, water supply, degassing, and evaporation, 2015,
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Many speleothems can be assigned to one of two morphological groups: massive speleothems, which consist of compact bulks of material, and coralloids, which are domal to digitate in form. Faster growth on protrusions of the substrate occurs in the typical growth layers of coralloids (where those layers are termed “coralloid accretions”), but it is not observed in the typical layers of massive speleothems, which in contrast tend to smoothen the speleothem surface (and can therefore be defined as "smoothing accretions"). The different growth rates on different areas of the substrate are explainable by various mechanisms of CaCO3 deposition (e.g., differential aerosol deposition, differential CO2 and/or H2O loss from a capillary film of solution, deposition in subaqueous environments). To identify the causes of formation of coralloids rather than massive speleothems, this article provides data about d13C and d18O at coeval points of both smoothing and coralloid accretions, examining the relationship between isotopic composition and the substrate morphology. In subaerial speleothems, data show an enrichment in heavy isotopes both along the direction of water flow and toward the protrusions. The first effect is due to H2O evaporation and CO2 degassing during a gravity-driven flow of water (gravity stage) and is observed in smoothing accretions; the second effect is due to evaporation and degassing during water movement by capillary action from recesses to prominences (capillary stage) and is observed in subaerial coralloids. Both effects coexist in smoothing accretions interspersed among coralloid ones (intermediate stage). Thus this study supports the origin of subaerial coralloids from dominantly capillary water and disproves their origin by deposition of aerosol from the cave air. On the other hand, subaqueous coralloids seem to form by a differential mass-transfer from a still bulk of water towards different zones of the substrate along diffusion flux vectors of nutrients perpendicular to the isodepleted surfaces. Finally, this isotopic method has proved useful to investigate the controls on speleothem morphology and to obtain additional insights on the evolution of aqueous solutions inside caves.


The fate of CO2 derived from thermochemical sulfate reduction (TSR) and effect of TSR on carbonate porosity and permeability, Sichuan Basin, China, 2015,
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Hao Fang, Zhang Xuefeng, Wang Cunwu, Li Pingping, Guo Tonglou, Zou Huayao, Zhu Yangming, Liu Jianzhang, Cai Zhongxian

This article discusses the role ofmethane in thermochemical sulfate reduction (TSR), the fate of TSR-derived CO2 and the effect of TSR on reservoir porosity and permeability, and the causes of the anomalously high porosity and permeability in the Lower Triassic soured carbonate gas reservoirs in the northeast Sichuan Basin, southwest China. The Lower Triassic carbonate reservoirs were buried to a depth of about 7000 m and experienced maximum temperatures up to 220 °C before having been uplifted to the present-day depths of 4800 to 5500 m, but they still possess porosities up to 28.9% and permeabilities up to 3360 md. The present-day dry gas reservoirs evolved from a paleo-oil accumulation and experienced varying degrees of TSR alteration as evidenced from the abundant sulfur-rich solid bitumens and varying H2S and CO2 concentrations. TSR occurred mainly within the oil and condensate/wet gas windows, with liquid hydrocarbons and wet hydrocarbon gases acting as the dominant reducing agents responsible for sulfate reduction, sulfur-rich solid bitumen and H2S generation, and calcite precipitation. Methane-dominated TSR was a rather late event and had played a less significant role in altering the reservoirs. Intensive H2S and CO2 generation during TSR resulted in calcite cementation rather than carbonate dissolution, which implies that the amount of water generated during TSR was volumetrically insignificant. 13C-depleted CO2 derived from hydrocarbon oxidation preferentially reacted with Ca2+ to form isotopically light calcite cements, and the remaining CO2 re-equilibrated with the 13C-enriched water–rock systems with its δ13C rapidly approaching the values for the host rocks, which accounted for the observed heavy and relatively constant CO2 δ13C values. The carbonate reservoirs suffered from differential porosity loss by TSR-involved solid bitumen generation and TSR-induced calcite and pyrite precipitation. Intensive TSR significantly reduced the porosity and permeability of the intervals expected to have relatively high sulfate contents (the evaporative-platform dolostones and the platform-margin shoal dolostones immediately underlying the evaporative facies). Early oil charge and limited intensity of TSR alteration, together with very low phyllosilicate content and early dolomitization, accounted for the preservation of anomalously high porosities in the reservoirs above the paleo-oil/water contact. A closed system seems to have played a special role in preserving the high porosity in the gas zone reservoirs below the paleo-oil/water contact. The closed system, which is unfavorable for deep burial carbonate dissolution and secondary porosity generation, was favorable for the preservation of early-formed porosity in deeply buried carbonates. Especially sucrosic and vuggy dolostones have a high potential to preserve such porosity.


Stable isotope data as constraints on models for the origin of coralloid and massive speleothems: The interplay of substrate, water supply, degassing, and evaporation, 2015,
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Caddeo Guglielmo Angelo, Railsback Loren Bruce, De Waele Jo, Frau Franco

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

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

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


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