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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. ...

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. ...

Speleology in Kazakhstan

Shakalov on 11 Jul, 2012
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. ...

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That chemical equivalent is the expression of water characteristics such as hardness or alkalinity resulting from several ions in solution in terms of only one equivalent concentration [16].?

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Featured articles from Cave & Karst Science Journals
Chemistry and Karst, White, William B.
Engineering challenges in Karst, Stevanović, Zoran; Milanović, Petar
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Featured articles from other Geoscience Journals
Geochemical and mineralogical fingerprints to distinguish the exploited ferruginous mineralisations of Grotta della Monaca (Calabria, Italy), Dimuccio, L.A.; Rodrigues, N.; Larocca, F.; Pratas, J.; Amado, A.M.; Batista de Carvalho, L.A.
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
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Your search for co2 degassing (Keyword) returned 14 results for the whole karstbase:
An Investigation of the Mechanisms of Calcium Carbonate Precipitation on Straw Speleothems in Selected Karst Caves - Buchan, Victoria., 1988, Canning, E.

The relative significance of straw speleothem growth from evaporation and from CO2 degassing was determined in Lilli-Pilli and Moons Caves (Buchan, Victoria) from a seven-month study of cave climate and water chemistry. The relative importance of these two mechanisms was inferred from the calculation of the straw growth rates according to a degassing model and an evaporation model. The modelled straw growth rates from the carbon dioxide degassing model were on hundred to one thousand times those attributable to evaporation. A third model was used to calculate straw growth rates from the overall supersaturation of the water. Growth rates were found to be within the range of 0.01 to 0.07mm per annum.


Les travertins du Coly (Causse de Martel, Dordogne) : contribution de lendokarst ldification dun systme travertineux de valle, 1998, Hoffmann, Frdric
The "Doux de Coly" is a vauclusian spring with a 4-km-long phreatic gallery which regulates the carbonated minerlization of water. Because the CO2 pressure is too high inside the conduit, this artesian spring cannot deposit carbonates. The spring water connects with another river, the Chironde, and creates the Coly river. This mixing of waters induces chemical variations and allows travertine valley deposit by CO2 degassing and carbonate precipitation. A 2-year-long waterchemistry study reveals the influence of the "Doux de Coly" karstic system (phreatic zone) in the formation of travertines.

Modeling of CO2 degassing and pH in a stream-aquifer system., 1998, Choi J. , Hulseapple M. N. , Conklin M. N. , Harwey J. W.
(for the Abstract see Hydrofacts, July 1998 p.4)

Ancient helictites and the formation of vadose crystal silt in upper Jurassic carbonates (Southern Germany), 1998, Reinhold C. ,
Speleothems and vadose crystal silt are effective indications for karstification processes in the fossil record. Upper Jurassic limestones in Southern Germany that have undergone vadose diagenesis contain on crystal margins and tips of coarse bladed calcites numerous fibrous calcite crystals, formed by abnormal growth conditions, and internal sediment within fractures and vugs, Fibrous calcite crystals grew as crusts, in fence and mesh-like arrangements. Fibrous crystals, which have a length:width ratio of greater than 1:10, are made up of stacked subcrystals composed of an alternation of hexagonal prisms and rhombohedra, They exhibit a central to somewhat eccentric capillary. Electron probe microanalysis shows low-Mg calcite mineralogy with negligible amounts of Fe, Mn, and Sr as well as dis seminated clay and metal hydroxide impurities. Stable-isotope data show relatively C-13-enriched and O-18-depleted values (delta(13)C similar to parts per thousand PDB, delta(18)O similar to -6 parts per thousand PDB), suggesting a meteoric environment and CO2 degassing as the main process of formation, Fibrous calcite crystals form from capillary fluids that are highly supersaturated with respect to calcium carbonate, contaminated with alien mineral impurities. The abnormal growth pattern is suggested to be substrate-controlled and attributed to mineral impurities that produce numerous crystallization nuclei. Fibrous calcite crystals are comparable to helictites of the filiform type that are reported only from Quaternary caves. Nevertheless, the diagenetic sequence and oxygen isotope data suggest a Late Cretaceous to early Tertiary age for their formation. The internal sediment consists exclusively of silt-size fragments of fibrous crystals and therefore is comparable to vadose crystal silt. Crystal silt is generated by the erosion of fibrous crystals both by va dose seepage and air currents. This study is the first observation of ancient helictites and related vadose crystal silt, documenting the close relationship between pore ceiling vadose cements and the generation of crystal silt

Depositional Facies and Aqueous-Solid Geochemistry of Travertine-Depositing Hot Springs (Angel Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, U.S.A.), 2000, Fouke Bw, Farmer Jd, Des Marais Dj, Pratt L, Sturchio Nc, Burns Pc, Discipulo Mk,
Petrographic and geochemical analyses of travertine-depositing hot springs at Angel Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, have been used to define five depositional facies along the spring drainage system. Spring waters are expelled in the vent facies at 71 to 73{degrees}C and precipitate mounded travertine composed of aragonite needle botryoids. The apron and channel facies (43-72{degrees}C) is floored by hollow tubes composed of aragonite needle botryoids that encrust sulfide-oxidizing Aquificales bacteria. The travertine of the pond facies (30-62{degrees}C) varies in composition from aragonite needle shrubs formed at higher temperatures to ridged networks of calcite and aragonite at lower temperatures. Calcite 'ice sheets', calcified bubbles, and aggregates of aragonite needles ('fuzzy dumbbells') precipitate at the air-water interface and settle to pond floors. The proximal-slope facies (28-54{degrees}C), which forms the margins of terracette pools, is composed of arcuate aragonite needle shrubs that create small microterracettes on the steep slope face. Finally, the distal-slope facies (28-30{degrees}C) is composed of calcite spherules and calcite 'feather' crystals. Despite the presence of abundant microbial mat communities and their observed role in providing substrates for mineralization, the compositions of spring-water and travertine predominantly reflect abiotic physical and chemical processes. Vigorous CO2 degassing causes a unit increase in spring water pH, as well as Rayleigh-type covariations between the concentration of dissolved inorganic carbon and corresponding {delta}13C. Travertine {delta}13C and {delta}18O are nearly equivalent to aragonite and calcite equilibrium values calculated from spring water in the higher-temperature ([~]50-73{degrees}C) depositional facies. Conversely, travertine precipitating in the lower-temperature (<[~]50{degrees}C) depositional facies exhibits {delta}13C and {delta}18O values that are as much as 4{per thousand} less than predicted equilibrium values. This isotopic shift may record microbial respiration as well as downstream transport of travertine crystals. Despite the production of H2S and the abundance of sulfide-oxidizing microbes, preliminary {delta}34S data do not uniquely define the microbial metabolic pathways present in the spring system. This suggests that the high extent of CO2 degassing and large open-system solute reservoir in these thermal systems overwhelm biological controls on travertine crystal chemistry

Large kinetic isotope effects in modern speleothems, 2006, Mickler Patrick J. , Stern Libby A. , Banner Jay L. ,
The application of stable isotopes in speleothem records requires an understanding of the extent to which speleothem calcite isotopic compositions reflect the compositions of the cave waters from which they precipitate. To test for equilibrium precipitation, modern speleothem calcite was grown on glass plates, so that the carbon and oxygen isotope composition of the calcite and the water from which it precipitated could be directly compared. The plates were placed on the tops of three actively growing stalagmites that occupy a 1 m2 area in Harrison's Cave, Barbados, West Indies. Only some of the plate {delta}13C values and none of the plate {delta}18O values correspond to equilibrium values, indicating significant kinetic isotope effects during speleothem calcite growth. We investigate herein mechanisms that may account for the kinetic isotope effects. On each plate, speleothem calcite was deposited with distinct {delta}18O and {delta}13C compositions that increase progressively away from the growth axis, with up to 6.6{per thousand} 13C and 1.7{per thousand} 18O enrichments. The positive {delta}13C versus {delta}18O trends are likely a result of 18O and 13C Rayleigh-distillation enrichment in the HCO3- reservoir owing to progressive CO2 degassing and CaCO3 precipitation. The magnitude of the {delta}13C versus {delta}18O slope is likely controlled by the extent to which CO2 hydration-hydroxylation reactions buffer the oxygen isotope composition of the HCO3- reservoir during calcite precipitation. Complete oxygen isotopic buffering of the HCO3- reservoir by CO2 hydration-hydroxylation reactions will produce a vertical {delta}13C versus {delta}18O slope in calcite sampled along a growth layer. As oxygen isotope buffering of the HCO3- reservoir decreases to no buffering, the {delta}13C versus {delta}18O slope in calcite sampled along a growth layer will decrease from vertical to 0.52 at the cave temperature. In this study, modern speleothem calcite sampled along the growth layer produced a {delta}13C versus {delta}18O slope of 3.9, indicating incomplete oxygen isotope buffering of the HCO3- reservoir during calcite precipitation. Both modern and Holocene speleothem calcite from Barbados, sampled temporally along the growth axis, shows similar positive {delta}13C versus {delta}18O slopes. These results, along with the spatial variations in glass plate calcite carbon and oxygen isotope compositions, suggest that the isotopic composition of the Holocene speleothems is in part controlled by non-equilibrium isotope effects. In addition, there is a correlation between stalactite length and oxygen and carbon isotope ratios of calcite precipitated on the corresponding stalagmite and glass plate, which may be due to 13C and 18 O enrichment of the HCO3- reservoir during CO2 degassing-calcite precipitation along the overhanging stalactite. We compiled 165 published speleothem stable isotope records with a global distribution and found that most of these records show a positive covariation between {delta}13C and {delta}18O values. Speleothem stable isotope records may be influenced by kinetic isotope effects such that temperature-controlled equilibrium fractionation models alone cannot directly explain the significance of the variations in these records. Advancing the interpretation of these records requires the calibration of cave environmental conditions with the non-equilibrium isotope effects that cause {delta}13C and {delta}18O covariations in speleothems

SPATIAL AND TEMPORAL HYDROCHEMICAL VARIATIONS OF THE SPRING-FED TRAVERTINE DEPOSITING STREAM IN THE HUANGLONG RAVINE, SICHUAN, SW CHINA, 2010, Wang H. , Liu Z. , Zhang J. , Sun H. , An D. , Fu R. , Wang X.
Automatic hydrochemical logging and in situ titration combined with laboratory analysis were used to understand the spatial and temporal hydrochemical variations of the spring-fed, travertine-depositing stream in celebrated Huanglong Ravine, Sichuan, SW China. This is essential for protection of the Huanglong World Natural Heritage travertine landscape. It was found that the deposition of travertine was due to very strong CO2 degassing from the water, leading to decrease in pCO2 and specific conductivity (SpC), and increase in pH and SIc downstream from the Spring. However, regular downstream hydrochemical evolution was interrupted by dilution with snowmelt water and by renewed CO2 from some downstream springs. The chemistry of Huanglong Spring itself was stable at a diurnal scale though it was altered by the great Wenchuan earthquake of May 12 2008. However, in spring-fed pools downstream, pCO2 and SpC were lower, and pH and SIc were higher in daytime than at night, which indicates that the deposition of travertine was faster during the daylight hours. This was due to the combined e?ects of higher water tempera-tures and higher aquatic algae photosynthesis. In addition, it was found that the phosphate concentration in the stream in-creased remarkably downstream in the tourist midseason, in-dicating water pollution by tourism activities. ?e increase of phosphate (an inhibitor of calcite precipitation) may be one of the reasons for the decrease in travertine deposition rates and accelerated propagation of discoloration by diatoms during the past decades, which needs to be given more comprehensive study and tackled in future for the protection of these world famous travertine deposits.Keywords: hydrochemical var

Response of the Karst Phreatic Zone to Flood Events in a Major River (Bohemian Karst, Czech Republic) and its Implications for Cave Genesis, 2012, Vysok H. , Bruthans J. , k K. , Mls J.

Hydraulic and hydrochemical relationships between a medium gradient river and a karst aquifer were studied by water level and temperature logging combined with water geochemistry and d13C. The cave lakes are separated from the river by a floodplain up to 150 m wide formed by a gravel and sand layer up to 13 m thick covered with finegrained floodplain sediments. During minor discharge peaks (water level in the river , 1.5 m above the normal river stage), a water level oscillation in the cave lakes situated 40 to 190 m away from river is induced by the river level oscillation, but the river water does not enter any of the lakes. The groundwater chemistry in the cave lakes differs from that of the river water. Low bicarbonate content and high d13C values indicate that some of cave lakes’ waters have undergone CO2 degassing and calcite precipitation. During a major flood (recurrence interval . 100 years, level rising 7 m above the normal stage), the river water rapidly flooded the caves through openings in the river canyon (floodflow injection), while those connected to the river via alluvium only were flooded by an elevated groundwater stage, and the resulting water level rise was only about 50 percent of the river level increase. A simple hydraulic model was successfully used to simulate and explain the water table oscillations in the cave lakes. Flood-flow injection has recently been substantially reduced by low-permeability, fine-grained late Holocene fluvial sediments that cap coarse gravels in the river floodplain. Fast speleogenesis by flood injection would be expected in periods when the river canyon was bare or filled by gravel alone (glacial periods, transition to Holocene). Ice jams causing local increases in the river level are recognized as one of factors that can be important in speleogenesis.


New insights into the carbon isotope composition of speleothem calcite: An assessment from surface to subsurface, 2012, Meyer, Kyle William

The purpose of this study was to provide new insights into the interpretation of speleothem (cave calcite deposit) δ13C values. We studied two caves in central Texas, which have been actively monitored for over 12 years. We compared δ13C values of soil CO2 (δ13Cs), cave drip water (δ13CDIC), and modern cave calcite (δ13Ccc). Measured average δ13C values of soil CO2 were -13.9 ± 1.4‰ under mixed, shallowly-rooted C3-C4 grasses and were -18.3 ± 0.7‰ under deeply-rooted ashe juniper trees (C3). The δ13CDIC value of minimally-degassed drip water in Natural Bridge Caverns was -10.7 ± 0.3‰. The carbon isotope composition of CO2 in equilibrium with this measured drip water is -18.1 ± 0.3‰. The agreement between juniper soil CO2 and drip water (within ~0.2‰) suggests that the δ13C value of drip water (δ13CDIC) that initially enters the cave is controlled by deeply-rooted plants and may be minimally influenced by host-rock dissolution and/or prior calcite precipitation (PCP). At Inner Space Caverns, δ13CDIC values varied with vegetation above the drip site, distance from the cave entrance, and distance along in-cave flow paths. Whereas CO2 derived from deeply-rooted plants defines the baseline for drip water δ13CDIC entering the caves, kinetic effects associated with the degassing of CO2 and simultaneous precipitation of calcite account for seasonal variability in δ13CDIC and δ13Ccc. We documented increases in δ13CDIC at a rate of up to 0.47‰/hour during the season of peak degassing (winter), suggesting that δ13CDIC variations may be controlled by total elapsed time of CO2 degassing from drip water (Ttotal). We also observed seasonal shifts in the δ13C values of modern calcite grown on glass substrates that are correlated with shifts in drip water δ13CDIC values and drip-rate. Therefore, we suggest that increased aridity at the surface above a given cave results in, slower drip-rates, higher Ttotal, and therefore higher δ13CDIC values. We propose that large variability (>2‰) in speleothem δ13Ccc values dominantly reflect major vegetation changes, and/or increasing Ttotal by slowing drip-rates. Based on these findings, variability in speleothem carbon isotope records may serve as a proxy for paleoaridity and/or paleovegetation change.


New insights into the carbon isotope composition of speleothem calcite : an assessment from surface to subsurface, 2012, Meyer, Kyle William

The purpose of this study was to provide new insights into the interpretation of speleothem (cave calcite deposit) δ13C values. We studied two caves in central Texas, which have been actively monitored for over 12 years. We compared δ13C values of soil CO2 (δ13Cs), cave drip water (δ13CDIC), and modern cave calcite (δ13Ccc). Measured average δ13C values of soil CO2 were -13.9 ± 1.4‰ under mixed, shallowly-rooted C3-C4 grasses and were -18.3 ± 0.7‰ under deeply-rooted ashe juniper trees (C3). The δ13CDIC value of minimally-degassed drip water in Natural Bridge Caverns was -10.7 ± 0.3‰. The carbon isotope composition of CO2 in equilibrium with this measured drip water is -18.1 ± 0.3‰. The agreement between juniper soil CO2 and drip water (within ~0.2‰) suggests that the δ13C value of drip water (δ13CDIC) that initially enters the cave is controlled by deeply-rooted plants and may be minimally influenced by host-rock dissolution and/or prior calcite precipitation (PCP). At Inner Space Caverns, δ13CDIC values varied with vegetation above the drip site, distance from the cave entrance, and distance along in-cave flow paths. Whereas CO2 derived from deeply-rooted plants defines the baseline for drip water δ13CDIC entering the caves, kinetic effects associated with the degassing of CO2 and simultaneous precipitation of calcite account for seasonal variability in δ13CDIC and δ13Ccc. We documented increases in δ13CDIC at a rate of up to 0.47‰/hour during the season of peak degassing (winter), suggesting that δ13CDIC variations may be controlled by total elapsed time of CO2 degassing from drip water (Ttotal). We also observed seasonal shifts in the δ13C values of modern calcite grown on glass substrates that are correlated with shifts in drip water δ13CDIC values and drip-rate. Therefore, we suggest that increased aridity at the surface above a given cave results in, slower drip-rates, higher Ttotal, and therefore higher δ13CDIC values. We propose that large variability (>2‰) in speleothem δ13Ccc values dominantly reflect major vegetation changes, and/or increasing Ttotal by slowing drip-rates. Based on these findings, variability in speleothem carbon isotope records may serve as a proxy for paleoaridity and/or paleovegetation change.


Groundwater geochemistry observations in littoral caves of Mallorca (western Mediterranean): implications for deposition of phreatic overgrowths on speleothems., 2014, 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.


Genesis of folia in a non-thermal epigenic cave (Matanzas, Cuba), 2014, D’angeli Ilenia Maria, De Waele Jo, Melendres Osmany Ceballo, Tisato Nicola, Sauro Francesco, Gonzales Esteban Ruben Grau, Bernasconi Stefano M. , Torriani Stefano, Bontognali Tomaso R. R.

Folia are an unusual speleothem type resembling inverted cups or bracket fungi. The mechanism of folia formation is not fully understood and is the subject of an ongoing debate. This study focuses on an occurrence of folia present in Santa Catalina Cave, a non-thermal epigenic cave located close to Matanzas (Cuba). The sedimentology, morphology, petrology, permeability and geochemistry of these folia have been studied to gain new insight on the processes leading to their development. It is concluded that folia in Santa Catalina Cave formed at the top of a fluctuating water body, through CO2-degassing or evaporation, which may have been enhanced by the proximity to cave entrances. Two observations strongly support our conclusions. (1) When compared to other subaqueous speleothem (e.g. cave clouds) present in the same rooms, folia occur exclusively within a limited vertical interval that likely represents an ancient water level. Folia occur together with calcite rafts and tower cones that developed, respectively, on top of and below the water level. This suggests that a fluctuating interface is required for folia formation. (2) The measured permeability of the folia is too high to trap gas bubbles. Thus, in contrast to what has been proposed in other studies, trapped bubbles of CO2 cannot be invoked as the key factor determining the genesis and morphology of folia in this subaqueous environment


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, 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, 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.


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