Featured article from karst/cave journal
The flat areas of eastern and southern Mallorca host a remarkable coastal karst, where Cova des Pas de Vallgornera stands out due to its length (more than 74 km) and its special morphological suite. The pattern of the cave is quite heterogeneous showing sharp differences produced by the architecture of the Upper Miocene reef: spongework mazes and collapse chambers dominate in the reef front facies, whereas joint-guided conduits are the rule in the back reef carbonates. Regarding the speleogenesis of the system, a complex situation is envisaged involving three main agents: coastal mixing dissolution, drainage of meteoric diffuse recharge, and hypogene basal recharge related to local geothermal phenomena. The cave system is disposed in two main tiers of passages, of which geomorphologic interpretations are derived from their elevation data. The evolutionary trends as well as the chronology of the different cave sections are difficult to establish owing to the frequent shifting of the coastal base level during the Plio-Quaternary. In this respect, the genesis and evolution of the cave were fully controlled by sea-level fluctuations in the Western Mediterranean basin, with the main phases of cave formation, based on vertebrate paleontological data, going back to mid-Pliocene times.