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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 epigean is pertaining to, or living on, the surface of the earth. see endogean and hypogean.?

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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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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 skull (Keyword) returned 15 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 1 to 15 of 15
The `human revolution' in lowland tropical Southeast Asia: the antiquity and behavior of anatomically modern humans at Niah Cave (Sarawak, Borneo), , Barker G, Barton H, Bird M, Daly P, Datan I, Dykes A, Farr L, Gilbertson D, Harrisson B, Hunt C,
Recent research in Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia suggests that we can no longer assume a direct and exclusive link between anatomically modern humans and behavioral modernity (the `human revolution'), and assume that the presence of either one implies the presence of the other: discussions of the emergence of cultural complexity have to proceed with greater scrutiny of the evidence on a site-by-site basis to establish secure associations between the archaeology present there and the hominins who created it. This paper presents one such case study: Niah Cave in Sarawak on the island of Borneo, famous for the discovery in 1958 in the West Mouth of the Great Cave of a modern human skull, the `Deep Skull,' controversially associated with radiocarbon dates of ca. 40,000 years before the present. A new chronostratigraphy has been developed through a re-investigation of the lithostratigraphy left by the earlier excavations, AMS-dating using three different comparative pre-treatments including ABOX of charcoal, and U-series using the Diffusion-Absorption model applied to fragments of bones from the Deep Skull itself. Stratigraphic reasons for earlier uncertainties about the antiquity of the skull are examined, and it is shown not to be an `intrusive' artifact. It was probably excavated from fluvial-pond-desiccation deposits that accumulated episodically in a shallow basin immediately behind the cave entrance lip, in a climate that ranged from times of comparative aridity with complete desiccation, to episodes of greater surface wetness, changes attributed to regional climatic fluctuations. Vegetation outside the cave varied significantly over time, including wet lowland forest, montane forest, savannah, and grassland. The new dates and the lithostratigraphy relate the Deep Skull to evidence of episodes of human activity that range in date from ca. 46,000 to ca. 34,000 years ago. Initial investigations of sediment scorching, pollen, palynomorphs, phytoliths, plant macrofossils, and starch grains recovered from existing exposures, and of vertebrates from the current and the earlier excavations, suggest that human foraging during these times was marked by habitat-tailored hunting technologies, the collection and processing of toxic plants for consumption, and, perhaps, the use of fire at some forest-edges. The Niah evidence demonstrates the sophisticated nature of the subsistence behavior developed by modern humans to exploit the tropical environments that they encountered in Southeast Asia, including rainforest

A Collection of the Bat, Chalinolobus Morio (Gray), From The Nullarbor Plain, Western Australia, 1971, Hall, Leslie S.

A collection of 23 live specimens and 26 complete skeletons of the bat, Chalinolobus - (Gray), was taken from two caves on the Nullarbor Plain. Tables of their forearm and skull measurements are presented. A comparison of the forearm measurements of Nullarbor specimens of C. morio with those of eastern Australian specimens of this species revealed a statistically significant difference (p less than 0.01). In Western Australia, C. morio appears to roost and breed in caves, while in eastern Australia, it is generally recognised as a tree dweller. Records of other species of bats collected on the Nullarbor Plain are given.


Caves and Karst On Misima Island, Papua New Guinea, 1978, Ollier C. D. , Pain C. F.

27 caves were examined on Misima Island. Most are sea caves, but some have clear phreatic origins and some result from vadose solution along joints. One cave is formed by washing out of fragments in fault-shattered gneiss. Karst development in the raised coral appears to have been limited by the absence of streams flowing through the limestone. This results from the geomorphic development of the area, which has isolated the coral into discontinuous patches. Many caves have human burials, with associated pottery and one cave contains at least 100 skulls.


Caves, Graves and Folklore of Normanby Island, Papua New Guinea, 1980, Pain C. F. , Ollier C. D.

A rock shelter in gneiss and several caves in raised coral limestone are described from Normanby Island. Songs and stories that relate some of the caves to ancestors and to the mythical origin of the island population are recounted. Cave burials are described, which are predominantly accumulations of human skulls.


Quelques aspects du karst en Chine, 1985, Tricart, J.
Some characteristic features of karst in China Karst terrain is widespread in China: some 2,000,000km2, corresponding to 20-25% of the whole surface of the country. It occurs at very different altitudes and under quite different climates, from the region of Zhoukoudian, where has been found the skull of the Pekin Man, to the Tibet Plateau, where there is presently permafrost conditions, and up to southern tropical moist China, near Canton and Guilin. Recent chinese investigations have proved that most karst features are old. In Southern China a tropical karst (tower-karst or "mogotes" karst) is associated with lacustrine deposits containing the well-known Hipparion Fauna, of Miocene age. Its predates the intensive uplift of the Himalaya and of the Tibet, which has begun during the Pliocene and has continued during all the Pleistocene. The same fossils have been found in this tropical karst in present permafrost areas, above 5,000m. In the region of Guilin (Guangxi Province), this tropical karst has been described. There is evidence for the former existence of a covered karst, where limestones and dolomitic limestones were covered by a thick layer of reddish residual clays, with limonite. This mantle has been stripped during different periods of drier and probably cooler climate, has suggested by pollen spectra. In some places, these residual products have been trapped into pits, cracks, and caves. We have observed a small quantity of red clay painting limestone stalactites and sinters (Chuanshan and Leng Yin Yen Caves, in the surroundings of Guilin). They present sometimes a mining interest and some extractive industries are presently active (limonite, cassierite, etc.). Many caves have been surveyed by the Institute of Karst geology, in Guilin. Some have been equiped for tourism, around Guilin. All these caves are old. Some radiocarbon dating of speleothems yield ages of 33,000 year BP. The famous carving of the Leng Yen Cave have not been affected by calcite deposition from dripping since at least 500 years. The large caves that have been surveyed should correspond to a long evolution span. Along the Lijiang River, at least two terraces can be observed. They are built with gravels and pebbles, covered with thinner sand and loam, suggesting climatic changes, also attested by the changes of fauna and vegetation. These past cooler periods are characterised by an opened vegetation, with the striping of the old weathering cover of the former tropical karst. These karst terrains have been investigated in China for management purposes. Groundwater oscillations have frequently resulted in land subsidences damaging buildings, and in dramatic collapses destroying fields, roads. Sometimes, underground collapse plugged caves and dammed underground rivers, resulting in floodings. The caves are frequently used as reservoirs for irrigation and power plants.

Studies on the cranial osteology of the blind catfish Horoglanis krishnai Menon (Pisces, Clariidae), 2001, Mercy T. V. Anna, N. Pillai Krishna.
Horaglanis krishnai Menon is a blind catfish inhabiting the dug- out wells at Kottayam, Kerala, South India. Studies on the cranial osteology of the fish show that the bones on the skull are firmly articulated. The frontoparietal fontanella is very large so that the cranium virtually lacks a roof. The sphenotics and alisphenoids are hardly recognizable and the orbital bones are entirely lacking. In osteological features H. krishnai closely resembles Uegitglanis zammaroni. But in H. krishnai the orbital bones are further reduced or even absent. The fontanella is larger than that of any other known catfish. These two species must have evolved from the same ancester and have taken up nearly identical ways of life. The difference between the skeletons of these two appears to be largely dependent on the relative size of the frontoparietal fontanella. Its greater development in H. krishnai brought about a suppression or reduction of some of the bones clearly visible in Uegitglanis. It would appear that the modification initiated in Uegitglanis gatered momentum in Horaglanis. These two fishes form a group distinct from clariids and bagrids but form a connecting link between the two.

Mn-Fe deposits in shallow cryptic marine environment: examples in northwestern Mediterranean submarine caves, 2001, Allouc J, Harmelin Jg,
Black coating of hard substrates by Mn and Fe oxides has long been reported from shallow, dark, submarine caves. However, these littoral metallic deposits have never been studied in detail, despite expected analogies with deep-sea polymetallic crusts. Submarine caves are characterized by darkness and low rates of exchanges with the open sea. Lack of primary production and confinement of inner water bodies result in marked oligotrophy and extremely reduced biomass, i.e. conditions close to those prevailing in deep-sea habitats. Field evidences suggested that the formation of Mn-Fe coatings was closely tied to these particular environmental conditions. The goal of this study was to examine the detailed features of Mn-Fe coatings from dark caves with different local conditions, and to try to identify the processes responsible for their deposition. Study sites and methods Three sublittoral, single-entrance, caves were sampled by scuba diving along the coasts of Provence (France, Mediterranean Sea) (fig. 1). The first site is a large karstic cave (Tremies Cave, 16 m depth at entrance floor, 60 m long; Marseille-Cassis area) with an ascending profile which results in a buffered thermal regime and markedly oligotrophic conditions due to warm water trapping in its upper part (fig. 1 and 2). Wall fragments were sampled at 30 m (medium confinement : zone B) and 60 in (strong confinement : zone C) from the cave entrance. The second site is a large tubular cavity open in conglomerate formations (3PP Cave, 15 m depth at entrance floor, 120 m long; La Ciotat) with a descending profile which results in relative permanence of winter temperatures within the inner parts, complex water circulation and presumed greater input of sedimented particles than in the preceding cave (fig.1 and 2). Wall samples were taken at 25 m, 70 in and 100 m from entrance. The third site is a small, horizontal, cave open in quartzite formations (Bagaud Cave, 7 in depth at entrance floor, about 10 m long; WNW of Port-Cros Island, bay of Hyeres). Sampling was performed on walls of a narrow corridor between an anterior room and a smaller inner room. A sporadic outflow of continental waters is located in the inner room. The samples were preserved in 50% ethylic alcohol or studied soon after their sampling. Before carbon coating and SEM examination, or microanalyses with SEM-associated spectrometers, they were treated in a 33% Chlorox solution and thereafter washed in demineralized water and dried. Micromorphology At low-medium magnification (<20,000), the aspect of coatings varies between caves and, especially, between inner-cave locations. All the described structures are made up of Mn and Fe oxides. In Tremies Cave, coatings of walls from zone B are composed of irregular erected constructions (height : 10s to 100s μm) formed by the aggregation of roughly ovoid primary concretions of about 10 μm (fig. 3). The surface of those primary concretions displays numerous lacunose to reticulate films (pores, about 0.5 μm in diameter, are often subrounded). Remnants of these films and organomorphic corpuscles occur also within the primary concretions (fig. 4). On younger substrates (broken wall exposed since 1970), primary concretions are poorly developed and no prominent construction is visible (fig. 5). In more confined conditions (zone C), the erected constructions of ancient coatings are smaller and less numerous than in zone B but are well individualized (fig. 6). In this zone: C, besides some remnants of lacunose to reticulate films (fig. 7), there is an appearance of filaments and ovoid corpuscles (height/width : 10-30/5-15 μm), which seem to be linked to filaments by a short stalk (fig. 8). In 3 PP Cave, at 25-70 m from entrance, wall coatings present porous heaps of primary concretions (fig. 9). The surface and the inside of the latter comprise remnants of lacunose to reticulate films that evoke those observed in Tremies Cave (fig. 10 and 11). On younger substrates (hard parts of sessile invertebrates), coatings are restricted to micrometric organomorphic corpuscles with some remnants of lacunose or fibrous films (fig. 12). At 100 in from the entrance, coatings are shaped by numerous erected constructions, more or less coalescing (fig. 13). Besides remnants of lacunose films, the primary concretions contain interlacing filaments (diameter : 0.2-0.3 μm) forming cords or veils (fig. 14). In Bagaud Cave, the primary concretions are aggregated in irregular heaps (fig. 15). Lacunose films are particularly frequent and tend to form three-dimensional mamillated structures that were not observed in the other caves (fig. 16). In particular, there is an appearance of tubular structures (fig. 17) and of numerous hemispheroidal structures (diameter : 4-5 μm) with an upper orifice (fig. 18 and 19). At higher magnification (20,000), whatever the cave and inner-cave location, the aspect of oxide deposits is rather smooth or, especially, microgranular (fig. 20). Mineral composition The composition of coatings is different between caves and according to their inner-cave location. In both large caves (Tremies and 3 PP), the Mn/Fe ratio increases with the distance from the cave entrance, i.e. when exchanges with the open sea diminish (fig. 21a). This trend is particularly clear in Tremies Cave, where the confinement gradient is strongly marked. Besides, the Mn/Fe ratio also seems to increase when films are present in the analysed volume (some cubic micrometers) (fig. 21b). In Bagaud Cave, the Mn/Fe ratio reaches high values despite the small size of this cave and its low confinement level. Discussion and conclusions SEM observations suggest that in each studied cave, the Mn-Fe coatings are biosedimentary deposits. Genesis of these deposits is assumed to result mainly from the replacement of biofilms (composed of cells and slime, i.e, of extracellular polymeric substance produced by microorganisms) generated by microbial populations colonizing the cave walls. Considering the darkness of the cave-locations, microbes consist mainly in bacteria, but fungi are probably responsible for the filaments and ovoids corpuscules (evoking sporocysts) occurring in innermost parts. Observations at different scales of the morphological features of oxide deposits reveal a structured organisation which varies along the strong environmental gradients (particularly the confinement level) that occur from the entrance to the innermost parts : erected constructions made up of primary concretions become more and more defined and acquire a pseudo-columnar shape. The aspect of biofilms appears to be controlled by the same environmental parameters. In open or relatively open environments, they frequently show a three-dimensional development (with frequent skullcape-like shapes), while in more confined conditions they exhibit a planar layout. These changes reflect either the adaptation of the slime-producing bacteria to the local trophic resources (correlated to the rate of exchange with the open sea) and water movements, or spatial replacement of taxa. It is assumed that slime (mainly composed of water and exopolysaccharides) induces a local increase of the concentration in dissolved Mn and acts as an ion exchange resin that allows the retention of Mn on the functional groups of EPS. These conditions promote the nucleation of Mn oxide crystallites in the slime. Then. the anionic character of Mn oxides in seawater, and their capacity to catalyse the oxydation of Mn2 to Mn4, allow the process to go on without any other biological intervention; thus, the process of crystal growth becomes possible. In caves where Mn is only supplied by seawater (Tremies and 3 PP), the average value of the Mn/Fe ratio of coatings is negatively correlated to the local availability of nutrients. This trend is probably linked to changes in the selectivity of slimes towards the processes of retention of cations, because this ratio is clearly influenced by the occurrence of biofilms. However, independently from trophic resources, the Mn/Fe ratio can be notably increased when additional Mn is provided by the seeping or flowing of continental waters (Bagaud Cave)

The first discovery of a complete skeleton of a fossil orang-utan in a cave of the Hoa Binh Province, Vietnam, 2001, Bacon Am, Long Vt,
Here we provide a description of the first complete adult fossil orang-utan skeleton from the Asian mainland. This specimen, and remains of a juvenile orang, were collected in a late Pleistocene cavern in the Hoa Binh Province of The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The results confirm the suggestions by Hooijer (1948) Zool. Meded. Leiden 29, 175-301 and later by Schwartz et al. (1995) Anthrop. Pap. Am. Mus. Nat. I-list. 76, 1-24, that ancient orang-utans had bigger teeth than those of modem Pongo pygmaeus (P. p. pygmaeus and P. p. abelii), while the dental morphology is similar. Body proportions of the adult individual of Hoa Binh show a large skull with very large teeth but proportionally a small body. This individual is also singular in having high intermembral. and brachial indices, in comparison with those of modem subspecies.

Vulcanospeleology in Saudi Arabia., 2006, Pint, J. J.
Saudi Arabia has over 80,000 km2 of lava fields, locally known as harrats. However, only a few studies of lava caves in Saudi Arabia have been published internationally. This article summarizes the published and unpublished findings of all known expeditions to lava caves in the kingdom. Prior to 2001, reports of such caves were mostly limited to sightings of collapse holes by vulcanologists surveying the lava fields. Few caves were entered and no cave maps were produced. In 2001 and 2002, expeditions were organized to Harrat Kishb, located northeast of Makkah (Mecca). Three lava caves measuring 22 m, 150 m and 320 m in length were surveyed and the collapse features of a fourth cavepossibly over 3 km longwere studied. Two throwing sticks, a plant-fiber rope and the remains of stone walls were found in some of these caves. In 2003, lava tubes measuring 530 m and 208 m were surveyed in Harrat Ithnayn and Harrat Khaybar, respectively. Animal bones and coprolites were found in both caves. In 2003 and 2004, studies were carried out in Hibashi Cave, located in Harrat Nawasif/Al Buqum, 245 km southeast of Makkah. The cave was surveyed (length: 689.5 m) and found to contain two layers of burnt bat guano overlying a bed of redeposited loess up to 1.5 meters deep and up to 5800 years old. At least 19 different minerals were found, three being extremely rare organic compounds related to the guano combustion. Bones, horns, coprolites, ruins of a wall and a human skull ca. 425 years old were also found. There is evidence of many more lava caves in Saudi Arabia, particularly in Harrat Khaybar. Formal archeological and biological studies have not yet been carried out in Saudi lava caves but may produce interesting results.

NON-SPECIALISTS PERCEPTION ABOUT ENDOKARST AND EXOKARST SCENARIOS: VISIONS FROM HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, 2007, Travasos L. E. P. , Travassos E. G. , Travassos L. P. , Travassos L. C. P.

The aim of this work is to recover some methodological aspects of the study about the mind representations of caves in Brazil. The basis of this research consisted of one essay, approaching the social representations of a particular group of high school students on the exokarst and the endokarst. The results showed that the meanings vary only slightly, however, the most inter­esting result was due to the fact that students, who had already visited caves in some period of their lives, still held “negative” concepts regarding this environment even before visual stimu­lations. About 640 words associated with the exokarst and the endokarst were mentioned, emphasizing: fear, dark, shadowy, skull, hidden places, fantastic and beauty, which helped iden­tifying relations between the cultural and psychological as­pects of the group, mainly general views about the obscure and mysterious aspects of this landscape and its prominence over natural beauties. Analyzed data showed that the development of new research on mind representations of caves is very impor­tant, mainly for environmental education programs promoting adequate concepts about caves and extending activities of edu­cational ecotourism in Brazilian caves.


CAVE BEAR, CAVE LION AND CAVE HYENA SKULLS FROM THE PUBLIC COLLECTION AT THE HUMBOLDT MUSEUM IN BERLIN, 2009, Kempe Stephan & Dppes Doris
The Linnean binomial system rests on the description of a ho-lotype. The first fossil vertebrate species named accordingly was Ursus spelaeus, the cave bear. It was described by Rosenmller in 1794 in his dissertation using a skull from the Zoolithen Cave (Gailenreuth Cave) in Frankonia, Germany. The whereabouts of this skull is unknown. In the Humboldt Museum, Berlin, historic skulls of the three spelaeus species (cave bear, cave lion, cave hyena) are displayed. We were allowed to investigate them and further material in the Museums archive in an attempt to locate the holotype skull. Here we report about our findings giving pertinent measurements of this historic material and depicting it for the first time. Studying the old labels we were able to establish the provenience of much of the material that includes in fact specimens from the original Rosenmller collection. One of the cave lion skulls may actually be the one used in establishing the cave lion by Goldfu (Diedrich 2008) while another may be the original that was used to define a cave wolf .

Reevaluation of the unusual bovid skull from Lunnaya Cave, Karabi karst plateau, Crimea (SE Ukraine), 2010, Vremir M.

A partial bovid skull, from the karst deposits of Lunnaya Cave (Karabi karst plateau, Crimea) is re-examined. The subfossil find of unknown age, was retrieved by local cavers from Simferopol, and was allocated to the late Pleistocene Eurasian musk-ox: Ovibos moschatus (Zimmermann, 1780). Most recently, a reexamination of the specimen was possible, and a detailed analysis indicates an appurtenance to the water-buffalo (Bubalus bubalis (Kerr, 1792)), with some morphological disorders caused by Hydrocephalus, an inherited malformation sporadically recorded in extant bovids. However the skull was reported from below a thick flowstone crust, the age of the specimen is not older than 7th to 10th century A.D. (or even younger), when the domesticated form appear in SE Europe including the Crimean peninsula. Probably due to its disease, the animal was killed by a sharp axe-like tool and dropped into the cave. In this respect, late Pleistocene musk-ox finds are still missing from the Crimean theriofauna, their Southern range in the area, being limited to Zhytomyr-Kiev-Chernigov regions in Northern Ukraine.


The Cupcake: a preliminary report on bones found during the excavation of a shaft on Leck Fell, UK , 2011, Thorp, J. A.

Recent excavation work in a shaft known as The Cupcake on Leck Fell in northeast Lancashire, United Kingdom, has produced an interesting assemblage of ancient bones. All the animals represented are of wild species, aurochs (Bos primigenius), wild boar (Sus scrofa), wolf (Canis lupus), and badger (Meles meles). The bones were found at a depth of 8m, with the aurochs uppermost. Skeletal remains of several wild boars lay beneath, with a depth hiatus, suggesting a possible earlier depositional sequence. Differences in the state of preservation of the bones are notable. Bones in the centre of the shaft, in a damp environment, were the worst preserved, whereas the best preserved wild boar skull was recovered from a dry undercut on the southeast side. The lack of domestic species points to an early Holocene skeletal assemblage. Whole body representation suggests these animals died by falling down the shaft accidentally, while browsing on scrub concealing the entranc


Karst and Paleokarst Features involving Sandstones of the Judbarra / Gregory National Park, Northern Territory, Australia, 2012, Grimes, Ken G.

In addition to carbonate karsts, the Judbarra / Gregory National Park of tropical northern Australia has karst and paleokarst features associated with Proterozoic sandstone units. On a sandstone plateau in the Newcastle Range, there are several large collapse dolines formed in the Proterozoic Jasper Gorge Sandstone. As there is a carbonate unit, the Proterozoic Campbell Springs Dolostone, lying about 110 m beneath the plateau surface, these sinkholes may be subjacent karst features resulting from the upward stoping of large cave chambers. In the Far Northern area of the Judbarra Karst Region, areas of chert breccia are shown on the geological maps, and linear bodies of brecciated sandstone are inset into the carbonate beds of the Skull Creek Formation. The sandstone is derived from the Jasper Gorge Sandstone, which overlies the Skull Creek Formation in adjoining areas. The breccia is interpreted as paleokarst of uncertain age resulting from subsidence of the sandstone into karst trenches or collapsed cavities developed in the underlying carbonate beds.


Epikarstic Maze Cave Development: Bullita Cave System, Judbarra / Gregory Karst, Tropical Australia, 2012, Martini Jacques E. J. , Grimes Ken G.

 In the monsoon tropics of northern Australia, Bullita Cave is the largest (120 km) of a group of extensive, horizontal, joint-controlled, dense network maze caves which are epikarst systems lying at shallow depth beneath a welldeveloped karrenfield. The Judbarra / Gregory Karst and its caves are restricted to the outcrop belt of a thin bed of sub-horizontal, thinly interbedded dolostone and calcitic limestone – the Supplejack Dolostone Member of the Proterozoic Skull Creek Formation. Karst is further restricted to those parts of the Supplejack that have escaped a secondary dolomitisation event. The karrenfield and underlying cave system are intimately related and have developed in step as the Supplejack surface was exposed by slope retreat. Both show a lateral zonation of development grading from youth to old age. Small cave passages originate under the recently exposed surface, and the older passages at the trailing edge become unroofed or destroyed by ceiling breakdown as the, by then deeply-incised, karrenfield breaks up into isolated ruiniform blocks and pinnacles and eventually a low structural pavement. Vertical development of the cave has been generally restricted to the epikarst zone by a 3 m bed of impermeable and incompetent shale beneath the Supplejack which first perched the watertable, forming incipient phreatic passages above it, and later was eroded by vadose flow to form an extensive horizontal system of passages 10-20 m below the karren surface. Some lower cave levels in underlying dolostone occur adjacent to recently incised surface gorges. Speleogenesis is also influenced by the rapid, diffuse, vertical inflow of storm water through the karrenfield, and by ponding of the still-aggressive water within the cave during the wet season – dammed up by "levees" of sediment and rubble that accumulate beneath the degraded trailing edge of the karrenfield. The soil, and much biological activity, is not at the bare karren surface, but down on the cave floors, which aids epikarstic solution at depth rather than on the surface. While earlier hypogenic, or at least confined, speleogenic activity is possible in the region, there is no evidence of this having contributed to the known maze cave systems. The age of the cave system appears to be no older than Pleistocene. Details of the speleogenetic process, its age, the distinctive nature of the cave systems and comparisons with other areas in the world are discussed.


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