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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 albedo is the ratio of reflected radiation to total radiation on a natural surface [16].?

Checkout all 2699 terms in the KarstBase Glossary of Karst and Cave Terms

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What is Karstbase?



Browse Speleogenesis Issues:

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 mineralogy (Keyword) returned 118 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 106 to 118 of 118
Speleogenesis of an exhumed hydrothermal sulphuric acid karst in Cambrian carbonates (Mount San Giovanni, Sardinia), 2013,
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De Waele Jo, Forti P. , Naseddu A.

n the past few years the systematic study of caves intercepted by mine workings in southwest Sardinia has permitted us to observe morphologies due to rare speleogenetic and minerogenetic processes related to ancient hydrothermal activity. These relic morphologies are slowly being overprinted by recent speleogenetic processes that tend to obscure the hypogene origin of these caves. A combined geomorphological and mineralogical investigation has permitted a fairly detailed reconstruction of the various phases of evolution of these caves. Cave formation had already started in Cambrian times, but culminated in the Carboniferous, when most of the large voids still accessible today were formed. A key role in carbonate dissolution was played by sulphuric acid formed by the oxidation of the polymetallic ores present in the rocks since the Cambrian. During the Quaternary a variety of minerals formed inside the caves: calcite and aragonite, that yielded sequences of palaeo-environmental interest, and also barite, phosgenite, hydrozincite, hemimorphite and many others. These minerals are in part due to a phreatic thermal hypogenic cave forming phase, and in part to later epigene overprinting in an oxidizing environment rich in polymetallic ores. Massive gypsum deposits, elsewhere typical of this kind of caves, are entirely absent due to dissolution during both the phreatic cave formation and the later epigenic stage.

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Onac, Bogdan P.

Evidences show humans must have entered caves in Romania prior to 65,000 years ago. Their interest in mining activities came, however, much later, with the first documented signs pre-dating the arrival of Romans in Dacia (present-day Romania), in the 2nd century BC. Although writings about minerals in Romanian caves date back to the 18th and 19th century, the first scientific texts on minerals found in caves discovered during mining and quarrying activities only appeared after 1850s. From a mineralogical point of view, two distinct categories are recognizable: 1) caves displaying speleothems of monotonous carbonate mineralogy and 2) caves with unusual mineral paragenesis. The latter group could further be subdivided into: i) cavities located near or within nonmetalliferous or polymetallic ore fields, ii) skarn-hosted caves, and iii) caves in which H2Srich thermo-mineral waters discharge. The study of these caves resulted in the discovery of minerals, either new for science (ardealite) or to the cave environment (anhydrite, burbankite, foggite, ikaite, konyaite, etc.). However, the scientific relevance of mine, quarry, and mined caves is not restricted to mineralogy but also encompasses anthropology, archeology, Quaternary geology, biospeleology, karst science (speleothems, speleogenesis, etc.), and tourism.

Hypogene karst: speleogenetic mechanisms and geochemical methods of diagnostics , 2013,
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Dublyansky, Y.

Evidences of hypogenic speleogenesis in Slovenian caves , 2013,
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Otoničar, B.

 In Slovenia, known as the country of classical karst, thinking about caves of predominantly hypogenic origin have been treated almost as a heresy. Although we may agree that only on the basis of cave morphology and wall rock features parts of some “common” caves especially close to allogenic inflow and past epipheratic zones cannot be simply related to some past hypogenic phase of cave development (e. g. Osborne 2008; Knez & Slabe 2009) some caves in Slovenia host too many features diagnostic for hypogenic, hydrothermal or at least ascending water flow that such interpretations shouldn’t be considered.

We will present preliminary studies on caves from different karstic regions of Slovenia where cave morphology, wall rock features, mineralogy, general geological setting of the area and partly hydrogeology and hydrogeochemistry suggest, at least on a level of hypothesis, their partial development with hypogenic processes in a wider sense (sensu Palmer 2011). In each of the discussed karstic regions different phenomena diagnostic for some of the hypogenic processes prevails over the others.

In Jelovica high karstic plateau (Julian pre-Alps) and Raduha Mt. (Kamniško-Savinjske Alpe) many caves are locally decorated with big calcite crystals commonly found also as veins on the karstic surface.

The Vrh Svetih Treh Kraljev in Rovtarsko Hribovje, the Pre-alpine region in the western part of central Slovenia, hosts few caves which channels exhibit ramiform and maze like orientation guided by faults and joints with wall rock features characteristic for dissolution with slowly flowing ascending water. A large part of at least one cave is developed in dedolomite while the biggest cave in the area has no known natural entrance. In addition, three wells in the area discharge “sulphuric” water.

In Slovenia many caves show wall rock features that can also be diagnostic for hypogenic speleogenesis or at least to ascending flow. However, such features are most often found in places where high fluctuation of karstic waters mainly with allogenic river inflow occurs. Perhaps some exceptions could be found in the foothills of Jelovica Plateau where especially in one particular maze or anastomotic cave (Jeralovo brezno) no evidence of substantial allogenic inflow occurs although in the lower parts some smaller channels are partly filled by predominately fine grained sandy stream related allogenic deposits.

For more detail information of the above mentioned karstic regions with potential traces of hypogenic spelogenesis see the guidebook of the excursions.

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De Waele J. , Galdenzi S. , Madonia G. , Menichetti M. , Parise M. , Leonardo Piccini , Sanna L. , Sauro F. , Tognini P. , Vattano M. Vigna B.

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

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

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

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

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

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Onac, B. P.

The classical epigene speleogenetic model in which CO2 is considered the main source of acidity has been challenged over the last three decades by observations that revealed cave passages unrelated to groundwater drainage routes and surface topography. Most of these passages show unusual morphologies, such are cupolas, floor feeders (i.e., inlets for deep-seated fluids), and huge irregular-shaped rooms that terminate abruptly, and often a rich and diverse mineral association. A hypogenetic speleogenetic pathway was proposed for this group of caves.
The presence of abundant gypsum deposits in caves with one or more of the passage morphologies listed above, have prompted scientists to suggest a new theory (i.e., sulfuric acid speleogenesis, SAS) of cave development. In the hypogenic SAS model, the source of acidity is the sulfuric acid produced by oxidation of H2S (originating from sulfate reduction or petroleum reservoirs) near or at the water table, where it dissolves the limestone bedrock and precipitates extensive gypsum deposits. SAS is now thoroughly documented from numerous caves around the world, with the best examples coming from the Guadalupe Mountains (NM), Frasassi caves (Italy), selected caves in France, Cueva de Villa Luz (Mexico), and Cerna Valley (SW Romania).
To date, discrimination between epigene and hypogene speleogenetic pathways is made using cave morphology criteria, exotic mineral assemblages, and the predominantly negative δ34S values for the cave sulfates. This presentation highlights the role sulfur and oxygen stable isotope analyses have in discriminating between epigene and hypogene caves.
Based on a number of case studies in caves of the Cerna Valley (Romania), we found that relatively S-depleted isotopic composition of cave minerals alone does not provide enough information to clearly distinguish SAS from other complex speleogenetic pathways. In fact, δ34S values of SAS by-products depend not only on the source of the S, but also on the completeness of S redox reactions. Therefore, similar studies to this are needed to precisely diagnose SAS and to provide information on the S cycle in a given karst system.
Integrating cave mineralogy, passage morphology, and geochemical studies may shed light on the interpretation of polygenetic caves, offering clues to processes, mechanisms, and parameters involved in their genesis (sulfate-dominated).

Occurrence of diagenetic alunites within karst cavity infill of the Dammam Formation, Ahmadi, Kuwait: an indicator of hydrocarbon gas seeps, 2014,
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Khalaf F. I. , Abdullah F. A.

Alunite minerals occur as white powdery lumps and laminated coloured deposits within cavity and solution channel infill of the palaeokarst zone of the Upper Eocene Dammam Formation. This formation is exposed in a quarry located on the Al Ahmadi ridge within the Greater Burgan oil field in southern Kuwait. Field occurrences and sedimentary structures of the alunite deposits were described. Collected samples were petrographically described, and their mineralogy and geochemistry were determined using X-ray diffraction and X-ray fluorescence, respectively. Microfabrics were investigated using SEM, revealing that they are primarily composed of fibrous alunogen (hydrous aluminium sulphate) and pseudo-cubical K-alunite (hydrous potassium aluminium sulphate). Their mode of occurrence suggests a hypogenetic origin, where sulphide gases associated with hydrocarbon gases reacted with an Al-rich solution leached from clay minerals and feldspars of the cavity-fill muddy sand sediments. The hydrocarbon gases may have seeped from subsurface petroliferous formations within the Greater Burgan oil field along vertical fractures. This study suggests that these acidic seeps may have played a role in the development of the palaeokarst zone of the Dammam Formation

Speleothems in Cova des Pas de Vallgornera: their distribution and characteristics within an extensive coastal cave from the eogenetic karst of southern Mallorca (Western Mediterranean)., 2014,
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Merino A. , Ginés J. , Tuccimei P. , Soligo M. , Fornós J. J.

The abundance and variety of speleothems are undoubtedly among the remarkable features of Cova des Pas de Vallgornera, the longest cave system in Mallorca Island developed in the eogenetic karst of its southern coast. Due to the monotonous carbonate lithology of the area, most of the speleothems are composed of calcite and in a few cases aragonite, although other minerals are also represented (e.g., gypsum, celestine, barite.). However, in spite of the rather common mineralogy of the speleothems, its distribution results strongly mediated by the lithologic and textural variability linked to the architecture of the Upper Miocene reefal rocks. Apart from a vast majority of speleothem typologies that are ubiquitous all along the cave system, some particular types are restricted to specific sections of the cave. In its landward inner passages, formed in the low permeability back reef facies, a great variety of speleothems associated to perched freshwater accumulations stands out, as well as some non frequent crystallizations like for example cave rims. On the other hand, the seaward part of the cave (developed in the very porous reef front facies) hosts conspicuous phreatic overgrowths on speleothems (POS), which are discussed to show their applications to constrain sea level changes. The factors controlling the distribution of speleothems found in Cova des Pas de Vallgornera are discussed along the paper, focusing the attention on the lithologic, hydrogeologic and speleogenetic conditionings; at the same time some uncommon speleothems, not found in any other cave in Mallorca, are also documented from this locality. Finally, a cognizant endeavour has been undertaken to illustrate with photographs the most remarkable speleothem types represented in the cave.

Linking mineral deposits to speleogenetic processes in Cova des Pas de Vallgornera (Mallorca, Spain)., 2014,
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Onac B. P. , Fornós J. J. , Merino A. , Ginés J. , Diehl J.

Cova des Pas de Vallgornera (CPV) is the premier cave of the Balearic Archipelago. Over 74 km of passages develop within two carbonate lithofacies (reef front and back reef), which ultimately control the patterns of the cave and to some degree its mineral infilling. The diversity of speleothem-forming minerals is four times greater around or within hypogene-related features (vents, rims, cupolas), compared to any other vadose passages in the cave. The mineralogy of speleothems (crusts, nodules, crystals, earthy masses) associated with hypogene features in the seaward upper maze of Sector F is characterized by the presence of aragonite, ankerite, huntite, clay minerals, and quartz. In the Tragus and Nord sectors, however, the dominant mineral is dolomite, along with aragonite, celestine, huntite, clay minerals, and quartz. Calcite is by far the most ubiquitous mineral throughout the cave. Detailed macroscopic and scanning electron microanalysis and imaging have permitted the investigation of textural relationships between the minerals associated with vents, rims, and vent’s roof and walls. These studies along with morphological and stable isotope analyses confirm that not all minerals are connected with a hypogene stage in the cave evolution, and furthermore, none of them appears to be sulfuric acid by-products. Instead, the mineral assemblages documented in speleothems from CPV clearly support at least three speleogenetic pathways, namely seacoast mixing, ascending of warm groundwaters, and meteoric recharge (vadose). Thus, cave minerals in Cova des Pas de Vallgornera hold the keys to reconstruction and understanding of processes and conditions under which they precipitated, allowing to establish their relationship with various speleogenetic pathways

The mineralogical study of the Grotta Inferiore di Sant’Angelo (southern Italy), 2014,
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Catalano M. , Bloise A. , Miriello D. , Apollaro C. , Critelli T. , Muto F. , Cazzanelli E. , Barrese E.

In the present work, thirteen samples collected from the Grotta Inferiore di Sant’Angelo near the town of Cassano allo Jonio (Calabria region, southern Italy) were analyzed for their mineralogy. The Grotta Inferiore di Sant’Angelo is made up of subhorizontal, interlinked galleries between 400 and 450 meters above sea level. The floor is littered with deposits such as bat-guano, gypsum, and many speleothems that also cover the walls. The samples were identified and characterized by X-ray powder diffraction, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectrometer, microthermometry, and micro-Raman spectroscopy. The ten primary minerals identified in this study belong to six different groups: carbonate, sulfate, apatite, oxide and hydroxide, halide, and silicate. Clay minerals and eight other detrital minerals were also found: enstatite, rutile, magnesite, pyrite, chrysotile, quartz, dolomite, and chlorite. Characterization of cave minerals could be useful to improve the knowledge of the relation between them and the lithology of the host rocks

Occurrence of diagenetic alunites within karst cavity infill of the Dammam Formation, Ahmadi, Kuwait: an indicator of hydrocarbon gas seeps, 2014,
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Alunite minerals occur as white powdery lumps  and laminated coloured deposits within cavity and solution  channel infill of the palaeokarst zone of the Upper Eocene  Dammam Formation. This formation is exposed in a quarry  located on the Al Ahmadi ridge within the Greater Burgan oil  field in southern Kuwait. Field occurrences and sedimentary  structures of the alunite deposits were described. Collected  samples were petrographically described, and their mineralogy  and geochemistry were determined using X-ray diffraction  and X-ray fluorescence, respectively. Microfabrics were investigated  using SEM, revealing that they are primarily composed  of fibrous alunogen (hydrous aluminium sulphate) and  pseudo-cubical K-alunite (hydrous potassium aluminium sulphate).  Their mode of occurrence suggests a hypogenetic  origin, where sulphide gases associated with hydrocarbon  gases reacted with an Al-rich solution leached from clay  minerals and feldspars of the cavity-fill muddy sand sediments.  The hydrocarbon gases may have seeped from subsurface  petroliferous formations within the Greater Burgan oil  field along vertical fractures. This study suggests that these  acidic seeps may have played a role in the development of the  palaeokarst zone of the Dammam Formation.

Karst pocket valleys and their implications on Pliocene–Quaternary hydrology and climate: Examples from the Nullarbor Plain, southern Australia, 2015,
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Karst on the Nullarbor Plain has been studied and described in detail in the past, but it lacked the determination of the karst discharge and palaeo-watertable levels that would explain the palaeohydrological regime in this area. This study explores the existence of previously unrecognised features in this area – karst pocket valleys – and gives a review on pocket valleys worldwide. Initial GIS analyses were followed up by detailed field work, sampling, mapping and measuring of morphological, geological, and hydrological characteristics of representative
valleys on the Wylie and Hampton scarps of the Nullarbor Plain. Rock and sand samples were examined for mineralogy, texture and grain size, and a U–Pb dating of a speleothem froma cave within a pocket valley enabled the establishment of a time frame of the pocket valleys formation and its palaeoenvironmental implications. The pocket valleys document the hydrological evolution of the Nullarbor karst system and the Neogene–Pleistocene palaeoclimatic evolution of the southern hemisphere. A review of pocket valleys in different climatic and geological settings suggests that their basic characteristics remain the same, and their often overlooked utility as environmental indicators can be used for further palaeoenvironmental studies. The main period of intensive karstification and widening of hydrologically active underground conduits is placed into the wetter climates of the Pliocene epoch. Subsequent drier climates and lowering of the watertable that followed sea-level retreat in the Quaternary resulted in formation of the pocket valleys (gravitational undermining, slumping, exudation and collapse), which, combined with periodic heavy rainfall events and discharge due to impeded drainage, caused the retreat of the pocket valleys from the edge of escarpments.

Characterization of minothems at Libiola (NW Italy): morphological, mineralogical, and geochemical study, 2016,
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Carbone Cristina, Dinelli Enrico, De Waele Jo

The aim of this study is to characterize in detail, the mineralogy of different-shaped concretions as well as to investigate the physico-chemical parameters of the associated mine drainage and drip waters in the Santa Barbara level of the Libiola Mine (NW Italy) by several geochemical and mineralogical techniques. Under the term “minothems” we are grouping all those secondary minerals that occur under certain form or shape related to the conditions under which they formed but occur in a mine, or in any artificial underground environment (i.e., "mine speleothems"). Different types of minothems (soda straw stalactites, stalactites, and draperies) were sampled and analyzed. Mineralogical results showed that all the samples of stalactites, stalagmite and draperies are characterized by poorly crystalline goethite. There are significant differences either in their texture and chemistry. Stalactites are enriched in Zn, Cd, and Co in respect to other minothems and show botryoidal textures; some of these exhibit a concentric layering marked by the alternation of botryoidal and fibrous-radiating textures; the draperies are enriched in V and show aggregates of sub-spheroidal goethite forming compact mosaic textures. Geochemical investigations show that the composition and physico-chemical parameters of mine drainage and drip waters are different from the other acidic mine water occurrences in different areas of the Libiola Mine, where minothems are less abundant. All mine water samples contain Cu, Ni, and Zn in appreciable levels, and the physico-chemical conditions are consistent with the stability of ferrihydrite, which however tends to transform into goethite upon ageing.

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