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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. ...

Did you know?

That epikarst; epikarst zone is a relatively thick (the thickness may vary significantly, but 15 to 30 meters thick is a good generalization) portion of bedrock that extends from the base of the soil zone and is characterized by extreme fracturing and enhanced solution. it is separated from the phreatic zone by an inactive, relatively waterless interval of bedrock that is locally breached by vadose percolation. significant water storage and transport are known to occur in this zone. synonym: subcutaneous zone.?

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Chemistry and Karst, White, William B.
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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 ghost-rock (Keyword) returned 13 results for the whole karstbase:
GHOST-ROCK KARSTIFICATION IN ENTRE-DEUX-MERS (GIRONDE, FRANCE), IMPLICATIONS FOR KARSTOGENESIS AND KARSTIC MORPHOLOGY, , Dubois Caroline, Lans Benjamin, Kaufmann Olivier, Maire Richard, Quinif Yves

The formation of the Oligocene « calcaires à Astéries » in the region of « Entre-deux-Mers » is affected by a karstification with subhorizontal caves that drained rivers from swallow-holes to resurgences. Observations in quarries show that ghost-rock alterites are present. This paper describes the ghost-rocks in the quarry of Piquepoche exploiting the Frontenac stone. We have studied horizontally developed ghost-rocks with vertical extensions still containing the residual alterite. They can be badly consolidated calcarenites up to soft material which has been sampled. Speleogenesis is reviewed in the frame of the mechanical erosion of the alterite of a horizontal ghost-rock followed by an incision by free-flowing waters which form a passage with promontories and potholes. Finally, we show that ceiling anastomoses can form by ghost-rock karstification.


Mthodes et lments de cartographie dun palokarst. Lexemple de la Carrire du Clypot (Hainaut, Belgique), 2002, Quinif Yves, Quinif Gilles
Palaeokarsts have been often considered like geological objects different from the present karst systems, which can be explored partially by speleological ways. But it is obvious that their genesis have not been different from the genesis of the neogene karst systems, in same environmental conditions. The study of palaeokarsts has a great importance for the comparison with present systems. Moreover, they conserve continental sediments which generally disappear, but with possibility of dating by marine trangressive series which cover the palaeokarsts or by absolute dating like K-Ar or Ar-Ar on glauconite or ferriferous illite. We present here an interesting example of palaeokarstic features in a quarry where the works permit to map those features. This map constitutes the basis for future studies; it has shown different types of morphological features and deposits, their geometrical relations and their genetic links. We have (i) ghosts-rocks and pseudo-endokarsts, which result from the alteration in situ of the host-rock with formation of residual alterite. Those features organise like linear channels along tectonic fractures. Some channels can joint together in great pockets. At the summit of the limestone formation, (ii) palaeo-clints develop under the transgressive cover where we find pebbles and sands. Finally, (iii) endokarstic galleries can come from an autonomous hollowing (classical karst) or from old ghost-rocks, which become partially empty by a new hydrological activity.

Tectonique et karstification. Le cas de la rgion de Han-sur-Lesse (Belgique), 2004, Havron Ccile, Quinif Yves, Vandycke Sara
Relationship between karst and tectonics in the Han-sur-Lesse area (Luxembourg province, Belgium) - The structure of four limestone massifs around Han-sur-Lesse (Belgium) has been studied with the aim of understanding the relationship between karst and tectonics. In the massifs of Han and Wellin, a swallow-hole resurgence system is observed, on the contrary of Grignaux-Turmont and Resteigne massifs. The structural analysis involves a geometric study of tectonic objects as the faults or the joints, to establish the structural evolution of the massif. With such an analysis, it is possible to describe more accurately the relationships between the tectonic evolution of a massif and its speleogenesis defined by the presence of a structured endokarstic hydrosystem. A study of the karstified joints directions has showed that the karstogenesis developed during two successive stages. Indeed, we can observe that the Han tectonic network is mainly structured according to two directions: the first one N50E N65E was caused by a Mesozoc extensional tectonic stage, without any hydrodynamic potential. It induced a ghost-rock karstification. The second one N140E is due to another tectonic extensional stage during the Cenozoc; this second stage, in relation with the Ardennes uplift is combined with the appearance of a hydraulic gradient, which allows the structuring of karstic systems. The hydraulic gradient together with the extensional tectonics lead to the karstification of Han and Wellin massifs.

Ptrographie dune altrite rsiduelle de type fantme de roche , 2007, Havron Ccile, Baele Jeanmarc, Quinif Yves
PETROGRAPHY OF A RESIDUAL ALTERITE GHOST-ROCK . Classically, the karstogenesis begins with a phase of dissolution along fissures. Progressively, the fissure broadens and more water flows. Some fissures transform in more important void, sometimes galleries. The fondamental fact is that the removal of bed-rock is total, the greatest part by solution (carbonates, calcium and magnesium, sodium and potassium...), the rest one like solid phase (clay minerals, quartz...). We call this process total removal. But another karstification process exists: the ghost-rock formation. The first phase of the ghost-rock formation begins with an isovolumic alteration of the bed-rock. The insoluble parts remain while the soluble parts are evacuated with underground water. This insoluble part is constituted by clays minerals, silica phase, sparite like fossils, or big cristals and forms a residual alterite. That is the ghost-rock formation. This is the case for the present example which is a residual alterite in a very pure wackestone. This object presents like a volume of alterite confined in the intact bed-rock. We study this ghost-rock by a petrographic analysis. The macroscopic approach emphasizes the great porosity of the ghost-rock which is very crumbly. The border between the ghost-rock and the bed-rock is very irregular, emphazising the petrophysic differences. The microscopic approach shows in the ghost-rock a general collapse of the structure where subsist only the best cristallized grains. The alteration increases to the detriment of the little cristals, saving the bioclasts, or to the detriment of the fissures. One detects also another phase which is constituted by gypsum. The examination using the electron microscope shows that the bed-rock is formed by well soldered grains, crystals, primary pyrite. On the other hand, the ghost-rock is characterised by a great porosity, secondary pyrite, corrosion gulfs on crystals. This is the indication that the acid function comes from sulfuric acid by oxydation of the sulfide. This is the reason of the presence of gypsum. After the alteration, the organic matter present in the bed-rock (black limestone) can reduce the gypsum in secondary sulfide. The conclusion is that the formation of the ghost-rock can develop in a pure limestone, and non only in a limestone with silico-clay skeleton. This ghost-rock represents the first stage of the genesis: an isovolumic alteration, without macroscopic void, before a collapse of the weathering rock.

GHOST-ROCK STRUCTURES AND THE NATURE OF AZ CAVES, 2011, Quinif, Yves

Because of the presence of wall and roof cupolas and other microforms indicative of differential weathering, we first of all considered the genesis of the Azé caves, following the usual concept of karstogenesis, as a phreatic formation. A second stage is a vadose evolution associated with the underground river. But the time relationship between the two caves presents a problem because
the deposits in the Aiglons gallery demonstrate a river evolution during the last glaciation. Today, we know that many karstic systems begin their genesis by a process of ghost-rock formation. The discovery of the “Galerie de Chauffailles” proves this origin, because the speleologists have removed not river sediments, but the residual alterite in a “pseudoendokarst”. Some stratigraphic sequences of
the bedrock in the prehistoric gallery can be seen as residual alterite: the “ghost-rock” in the “Galerie de Chauffailles”. The genesis of the Azé caves began by a ghost-rock phase giving a pseudoendokarstic system consisting of weathered interconnected cavities. This residual alterite is made up of less minus soluble minerals like silica cherts, clay minerals and sparitic calcite. It is very fragile and porous. The second stage consists in the mechanical removal of the residual alterite by an underground river. A very interesting characteristic of the Azé cave is that we can study the contact between the river sediments of the second stage and the residual alterit  of the first stage.

A cause de la présence de formes pariétales de type coupoles et microformes de corrosion différentielle, on a longtemps considéré la genèse de grottes telles celles d’Azé comme issue de conditions phréatiques, dans le contexte de la karstogenèse par évacuation totale. Une deuxième étape comprend une évolution vadose de type fluviatile. Mais les relations temporelles entre les deux grottes d’Azé posent un problème. Les dépôts fluviatiles de la Galerie des Aiglons démontrent qu’il a existé une circulation fluviatile durant la dernière glaciation. Cette constatation permet d’envisager une genèse de type fantôme de roche, pour laquelle cette question d’évolution ne constitue plus un problème. La découverte de la Galerie de Chauffailles prouve ce type de spéléogenèse. En effet, la désobstruction de cette galerie ne s’est pas faite dans les sédiments fluviatiles, mais pour une bonne part en retirant l’altérite résiduelle demeurée dans un pseudoendokarst. La genèse de la Grotte d’Azé commence ainsi par une altération in situ générant un système de pseudoendokarsts consistant en volumes altérés interconnectés. L’altérite résiduelle est composée des minéraux insolubles ou moins solubles comme les chailles, la calcite sparitique, les minéraux argileux. Ce milieu est fragile et très poreux. La
seconde étape évolutive est l’érosion mécanique partielle de cette altérite résiduelle par les rivières souterraines. Une caractéristique très intéressante de la grotte d’Azé est qu’il y est possible d’étudier le contact entre l’altérite résiduelle et les sédiments fluviatiles.


Preparing the ground - new mechanisms for karst and speleogenesis: 'alteration', fantomisation and replacement, 2012, Laverty, Martin

Two distinctive new rock alteration mechanisms that can lead to the development of karst features, including caves, are reviewed here for the first time in a British publication. Fantomisation is a two-stage process of partial dissolution around fractures followed, typically much later, by rapid removal of the residue to create passages. Replacement is the simultaneous volume-for-volume alteration of the mineralogy of the rock to create apparently buried forms in situ. These new explanations are not restricted to development of karst in carbonates, and can explain otherwise enigmatic features. They should be considered when interpreting the history, hydrology and morphology of caves and karst where the host rock has been in a low-energy environment with surface and/or fractures open enough for ingress of weathering fluid at some time since its deposition.


The nature and origin of the ghost-rocks at Bullslaughter Bay, South Wales, 2012, Rowberry Matt D. , Battiauqueney Yvonne, Blazejowski Blazej, Walsh Peter

The ‘ghost-rocks’ of the British Isles have attracted very little research interest over the years despite being widely distributed. In South Wales, the ghost-rocks of the Pembroke Peninsula are usually associated with the mudrock formations immediately above and below the Carboniferous Limestone. This study focuses on their nature and origin through a detailed investigation of the cliff sections at Bullslaughter Bay. The investigated ghost-rocks are associated with a suite of breccias, collectively termed the Gash Breccias. These are an enigmatic suite of around twenty-five large breccia masses located exclusively in the eastern part of the peninsula. They comprise huge masses of coarse, chaotic, clast-supported, monomictic breccia and represent highly disturbed features in the otherwise unbroken sequences of Carboniferous Limestone. Their origin may be karstic, tectonic, or a combination of the two. They could, theoretically, have formed at any point between the end of the Carboniferous and the Pliocene. If their origin is karstic, it cannot yet be determined if the processes were attributable to per descensum or per ascensum groundwater systems. If tectonic, it is not known whether they formed during periods of compression or extension. From our own geological and geophysical fieldwork, we believe that the breccias originated as a result of subterranean karstic processes whilst retaining an open mind with regard to the role played by tectonics. The breccia and ghost-rocks are both displayed in fine cliff exposures around Bullslaughter Bay. These sections, although not extensive, are extremely instructive. The processes that generate ghost-rock result in isovolumetric weathering of the host rock and an associated loss of density and strength. They may or may not involve the removal of certain chemical constituents in the regolith through solution and hydrolysis followed by the formation of secondary minerals, frequently clay. In reality, the precise weathering process differs according to the type of rock. The process is controlled by the permeability of each rock type in banded rocks such as mudstones or shale with banded chert whereas it is controlled by fissures and faults in homogenous rocks. This control is clearly seen in the Carboniferous Limestone around Bullslaughter Bay, where ghost-rocks are present, more commonly in case of impure or dolomitic limestone. At present, it is not clear whether the groundwater movements were caused by hydrothermal or meteoric processes and this forms the basis of ongoing research. Finally, the study considers the relationship that exists between the ghost-rock and the Gash Breccia. We examine whether there is a logical correlation between the processes that came to generate the ghost-rock and the processes responsible for the generation of the breccia. It may then be possible to accurately state whether the ghost-rock formed before, during, or after, the breccia. The reasons that the ghost-rocks of the British Isles have attracted very little research interest may stem from the fact that they have no current commercial value, have seldom presented engineering problems, and are normally difficult to date. It is clear that numerous karst related sag-subsidences in the British Isles result from the large-scale decalcification of the Carboniferous Limestone (e.g. the Tortonian Brassington Formation of the southern Pennines). There is, however, an increasingly large body of evidence to suggest that these subsidences result from the same processes that generate ghost-rock rather than those that create endokarstic voids. The subsidences may preserve stratigraphical sequences several decametres thick and reach depths and widths of many hectometres. Unfortunately, the masses of decalcified limestone below the Tortonian sediments are of no commercial interest and have hardly ever been penetrated by boreholes. Therefore, we do not know exactly what underlies the karstic fills. The possibility that most of these structures are best explained as the result of per ascensum groundwater flow is discussed.


The weathered Carboniferous limestone at Bullslaughter Bay, South Wales: the first example of ghost-rock recorded in the British Isles, 2014, Rowberry Matt D. , Battiauqueney Yvonne, Walsh Peter, Blazejowski Blazej, Boutroumazeilles Viviane, Trentesaux Alain, Krizova Lenka, Griffiths Hywel

The Carboniferous Limestone at Bullslaughter Bay hosts some of the most notable examples of deep weathering in  the British Isles as well as two members of an enigmatic suite of breccias known as the Gash Breccias. The weathered limestone has  been investigated thoroughly in order to identify the process responsible for the weathering. In this paper it is demonstrated that the  weathering is isovolumetric but the weathering profile is not characterised by a vertical gradient and its depth suggests that meteoric  waters did not contribute significantly to the weathering process. The weathered limestone has lost significant amounts of calcium and  parts are virtually decalcified. It is seen that the dominant primary minerals of illite and quartz have been preserved while secondary  clay minerals are generally absent. The weathered limestone cannot be a saprolite sensu stricto as it has been subjected to only restricted  chemical processes. It is, therefore, interpreted as a “ghost-rock”. This type of weathering results from chemical dissolution by slow  moving waters in the saturated zone. It is suggested that the weathering may have taken place during periods of emergence in the  Carboniferous, at the same time as the cyclothem tops were exposed to subaerial modification, as evidenced by omission surfaces and  palaeokarstic solution features. This is the first time that ghost-rock weathering has been reported from the British Isles.


The process of ghost-rock karstification and its role in the formation of caves, 2014, Dubois C. , Quinif Y. , Baele J. M. , Barriquand L. , Bini A. , Bruxelles L. , Dandurand G. , Havron C. , Kaufmann O. , Lans B. , Maire R. , Martin J. , Rodet J. , Rowberry M. D. , Tognini P. , Vergari A. ,

This paper presents an extensive review of the process of ghost-rock karstification and highlights its role in the formation of cave systems. The process integrates chemical weathering and mechanical erosion and extends a number of existing theories pertaining to continental landscape development. It is a two stage process that differs in many respects from the traditional single-stage process of karstification by total removal. The first stage is characterised by chemical dissolution and removal of the soluble species. It requires low hydrodynamic energy and creates a ghost-rock feature filled with residual alterite. The second stage is characterised by mechanical erosion of the undissolved particles. It requires high hydrodynamic energy and it is only then that open galleries are created. The transition from the first stage to the second is driven by the amount of energy within the thermodynamic system. The process is illustrated by detailed field observations and the results of the laboratory analyses of samples taken from the karstotype area around Soignies in southern Belgium. Thereafter, a series of case studies provide a synthesis of field observations and laboratory analyses from across western Europe. These studies come from geologically distinct parts of Belgium, France, Italy, and United Kingdom. The process of ghost-rock karstification challenges a number of axioms associated the process of karstification by total removal. On the basis of the evidence presented it is argued that it is no longer acceptable to use karst morphologies as a basis with which to infer specific karstogenetic processes and it is no longer necessary for a karst system to relate to base level as ghost-rock karstification proceeds along transmissive pathways in the rock. There is also some evidence to suggest that ghost-rock karstification may be superseded by karstification by total removal, and vice versa, according to the amount of energy within the thermodynamic system. The proposed chemical weathering and subsequent mechanical erosion of limestone suggests that the development of karst terrain is related far more closely to the geomorphological development of aluminosilicate and siliceous terrains than is generally supposed. It is now necessary to reconsider the origin of many karst systems in light of the outlined process of ghost-rock karstification.


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,

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,

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,

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,

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.


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