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Speleology in Kazakhstan

Shakalov on 04 Jul, 2018
Hello everyone!   I pleased to invite you to the official site of Central Asian Karstic-Speleological commission ("Kaspeko")   There, we regularly publish reports about our expeditions, articles and reports on speleotopics, lecture course for instructors, photos etc. ...

New publications on hypogene speleogenesis

Klimchouk on 26 Mar, 2012
Dear Colleagues, This is to draw your attention to several recent publications added to KarstBase, relevant to hypogenic karst/speleogenesis: Corrosion of limestone tablets in sulfidic ground-water: measurements and speleogenetic implications Galdenzi,

The deepest terrestrial animal

Klimchouk on 23 Feb, 2012
A recent publication of Spanish researchers describes the biology of Krubera Cave, including the deepest terrestrial animal ever found: Jordana, Rafael; Baquero, Enrique; Reboleira, Sofía and Sendra, Alberto. ...

Caves - landscapes without light

akop on 05 Feb, 2012
Exhibition dedicated to caves is taking place in the Vienna Natural History Museum   The exhibition at the Natural History Museum presents the surprising variety of caves and cave formations such as stalactites and various crystals. ...

Did you know?

That limestone pavement is 1. a level, or gently inclined, bare limestone surface scored and fretted by karren. the stripping of soil or cover rocks to expose the bare rock pavement is a glacial process, and the development of the karren - both the dissolutional enlargement of the joints and also the dissolutional carving of runnels - is largely post-glacial. limestone pavements are characteristic features of glaciokarst and occur extensively in the north of england, in the burren of county clare in ireland and on many high alpine limestones [9]. 2. a bare plane surface of limestone, parallel to the bedding, commonly divided into blocks (clints, flachkarren) by solutionally widened joints (grikes, kluftkarren), and pitted by solution pans [10]. 3. a glaciokarstic landform, produced on a glacially planed limestone surface which has subsequently become dissected into blocks (clints or dalles) by solutionenlargement of vertical joints [19]. 3. horizontal or sloping platforms of bare limestone whose surface usually coincides with bedding-plane partings of the rock; often eroded into clint and grikes rock forms [20]. synonyms: (french.) plateforme calcaire; (german.) kalk plattform, limestone pavement; (greek.) karstikon lithostroton; (spanish.) lapiaz entrecruzado; (turkish.) kirectasi dosemesi. see also clints; grikes; karrenfeld.?

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Featured articles from Cave & Karst Science Journals
Chemistry and Karst, White, William B.
See all featured articles
Featured articles from other Geoscience Journals
Karst environment, Culver D.C.
Mushroom Speleothems: Stromatolites That Formed in the Absence of Phototrophs, Bontognali, Tomaso R.R.; D’Angeli Ilenia M.; Tisato, Nicola; Vasconcelos, Crisogono; Bernasconi, Stefano M.; Gonzales, Esteban R. G.; De Waele, Jo
Calculating flux to predict future cave radon concentrations, Rowberry, Matt; Marti, Xavi; Frontera, Carlos; Van De Wiel, Marco; Briestensky, Milos
Microbial mediation of complex subterranean mineral structures, Tirato, Nicola; Torriano, Stefano F.F;, Monteux, Sylvain; Sauro, Francesco; De Waele, Jo; Lavagna, Maria Luisa; D’Angeli, Ilenia Maria; Chailloux, Daniel; Renda, Michel; Eglinton, Timothy I.; Bontognali, Tomaso Renzo Rezio
Evidence of a plate-wide tectonic pressure pulse provided by extensometric monitoring in the Balkan Mountains (Bulgaria), Briestensky, Milos; Rowberry, Matt; Stemberk, Josef; Stefanov, Petar; Vozar, Jozef; Sebela, Stanka; Petro, Lubomir; Bella, Pavel; Gaal, Ludovit; Ormukov, Cholponbek;
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Your search for oxygen (Keyword) returned 224 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 211 to 224 of 224
Stable isotope (O and C) geochemistry of non-sulfide ZnPb deposits; case study: Chah-Talkh non-sulfide ZnPb deposit (Sirjan, south of Iran), 2013, Rezaeian A. , Rasa I. , Amiri A. , Jafari M. R.

The study of oxygen and carbon isotopic ratios has gained importance to determine the origin of ore-bearing fluids, carbon origin, and also to determine the formation temperature of non-sulfide Pb and Zn minerals. In order to determine the origin of fluids and carbon existing in Zn carbonate minerals in Chah-Talkh deposit, initially the amounts of δ18OSMOW and δ13CPDB changes in various zinc minerals in important deposits in Iran and the world were studied, and then by comparing these values in Chah-Talkh deposit with those of other deposits, the origin of fluids responsible for ore forming, carbon, and formation temperature of Chah-Talkh deposit was determined. The range of δ18OSMOW changes in smithsonite mineral in non-sulfide lead and zinc deposits varies from 18.3 to 31.6 ‰, and δ18OSMOW in hydrozincite mineral varies from 7.8 to 27 ‰. Due to the impossibility of smithsonite sampling from Chah-Talkh deposit (due to it being fine-grained and dispersed), hydrozincite minerals which have high isotopic similarities with smithsonite are used for the isotopic analysis of carbon and oxygen. The range of δ18OSMOW changes in hydrozincite mineral of Chah-Talkh deposit varies from 7.8 to 15.15‰, which places in the domain of metamorphic water. The extensiveness of δ18OSMOW changes in Chah- Talkh indicates the role of at least two fluids in the formation of non-sulfide minerals. The obtained formation temperature of non-sulfide minerals (hydrozincite) in Chah- Talkh deposit is 70 to 100 °C, which indicates the role of metamorphic fluids in the formation of deposit. Complete weathering of sulfide minerals to a depth of 134 m confirms the role of rising metamorphic fluids in the formation of non-sulfide minerals. The δ13CPDB values of Chah-Talkh deposit are set in the range of atmospheric CO2 and carbonate rocks, in which the existence of atmospheric CO2 indicates the role of atmospheric fluids, and the existence of carbonate carbon rock indicates of the role of metamorphic fluids in the precipitation of non-sulfide Zn minerals.


Alteration of isotopic composition of wallrock of hypogene karst conduits in the Crimean Piedmont, 2013, Dublyansky Y. V. , Klimchouk A. B. , Tymokhina E. I. , Amelichev G. N. , Sptl C.

The paper presents the results of a systematic study of the oxygen and carbon isotopes in the walls of the hypogene karst conduits in the Crimean Piedmont, including conduits that are entirely open and represent the cuesta cliffs. Most of the studied cores reveal wide zones of weak isotopic alteration (tens of cm to several m; 1 to 3 ‰) and narrow zones of strong alteration (4 to 15 mm; up to 4-7 ‰) for both C and O. Interaction between carbonate bedrock and fluids is expected in relatively closed hydrogeological conditions characteristic of the hypogene speleogenesis. The most-altered rock has isotopic composition identical to that of the phreatic speleothems, found in some of the studied conduits. This suggests that the altering waters and mineral forming solutions are genetically related. Several alteration trends are apparent in the C-O isotope space, suggesting that the bedrock has experienced more than one stage of alteration, characterized by different physico-chemical parameters of fluids (including different sources and isotopic composition of carbon and, possibly, different temperatures).


Hypogene speleogenesis in Italy, 2013, Menichetti, M.

Through more than one century of speleological research in Italy, many hypogenic limestone caves have been explored, mapped and studied. These caves are characterized by a variety of patterns and morphological sizes including three-dimensional maze sys-tems and deep shafts, with both active endogenic CO2 and H2S vents.
An integrate approach taking in account geological, hydrological and geochemical set-tings permit to recognize the main hypogenic speleogenetic process. The H2S oxidation to sulfuric acid, by oxygen-rich groundwaters as well as in the atmosphere is actually the main active hypogenic cave-forming processes. Both phreatic and vadose corrosion reactions involve chemotropic microbial activity, with sulfur-redox bacterial communi-ties that generate sulfuric acid as metabolic product. The bedrock corrosion produce sulfate ions in the phreatic zone and gypsum replacement in the limestone walls of the vadose sectors of the caves. The caves are characterized by both fossil and active pas-sages in which water rich in H2S as well as endogenic CO2 plays a determinant role in speleogenesis. Although sulfuric acid-related speleogenesis typically produces gypsum deposits, in caves where the karstification processes are driven by subterranean CO2 sources, voids and speleothems are the only final products.
In Italy all the end-members of the karst processes can be found, from solution caves to outcrop of carbonate travertine. The hypogenic caves are concentrated for largest and both fossils and active systems in the Tuscany, Umbria, Marche and Latium regions (Menichetti, 2009). These consist of few tens of kilometers of solutional passages with galleries and shafts, which are characterized by large rooms, cupola and blind pits, anas-tomotic passages, bubble trails roof pendants, knife edges, and phreatic passages. Ac-tive smaller karst systems are known in Southern Italy in Apulia, Campania and Sicily, related to the geothermal anomaly associated with CO2 and H2S vents.


Rapidcreekite in the sulfuric acid weathering environment of Diana Cave, Romania, 2013, Onac B. P. Effenberger H. S. Wynn J. G. Povară, I.

The Diana Cave in SW Romania develops along a fault line and hosts a spring of hot (Tavg = 51 °C), sulfate-rich, sodium-calcium-chloride bearing water of near-neutral pH. Abundant steam and H2S rises from the thermal water to condensate on the walls and ceiling of the cave. The sulfuric acid produced by H2S oxidation/hydrolysis causes a strong acid-sulfate weathering of the cave bedrock generating a sulfate-dominated mineral assemblage that includes rapidcreekite, Ca2(SO4)(CO3)•4H2O closely associated with gypsum and halotrichite group minerals. Rapidcreekite forms bundles of colorless tabular orthorhombic crystals elongated along [001] and reaching up to 1.5 mm in length. For verifying the hydrogen bond scheme and obtaining crystal-chemical details of the carbonate group a single-crystal structure refinement of rapidcreekite was performed. Its unit-cell parameters are: a = 15.524(2), b = 19.218(3), c = 6.161(1) Å; V = 1838.1(5) Å3, Z = 8, space group Pcnb. Chemi¬cal composition (wt%): CaO 35.65, SO3 24.97, CO2 13.7, H2O 23.9, Na2O 0.291, MgO 0.173, Al2O3 0.07, total 98.75%. The empirical formula, based on 7 non-water O atoms pfu, is: Ca1.98Na0.029Mg0.013 Al0.004(S0.971 O4)(C0.97O3)•4.13H2O. The d34S and d18O values of rapidcreekite and other cave sulfates range from 18 to 19.5‰ CDT and from –9.7 to 7.8‰ SMOW, respectively, indicating that the source of sulfur is a marine evaporite and that during hydration of the minerals it has been an abundant 18O exchange with percolating water but almost no oxygen is derived from O2(aq). This is the first descrip¬tion of rapidcreekite from a cave environment and one of the very few natural occurrences worldwide. We also report on the mineral stability and solubility, parameters considered critical to understand the co-precipitation of carbonates and sulfates, a process that has wide applications in cement industry and scaling prevention.


Detritus processing in lentic cave habitats in the neotropics, 2013, Marconi Souza Silva, Rafaelly Karina Sales Rezende, Rodrigo Lopes Ferreira

Lentic cave habitatsare almost always heterotrophic habitats where there are food and oxygen input from the surface. This hydrological exchange seems to be the key factor shaping most groundwater communities. Litter processing in cave water environments has not been experimentally studied as much as it has in lotic subterranean systems, although detritus is likely a critical resource for organisms inhabiting shallow groundwater habitats. The present study sought to evaluate the processing rates and the nitrogen and phosphorous dynamics in plant debris deposited in lentic habitats of two Neotropical limestone caves during 99 days. 84–10×10 cm2 litterbags with mesh sizes of 0.04 mm2 and 9 mm2 were used. In each weighed litter bag, 50 green, intact plant leaf disks (± 2.0 gr/bag) were conditioned. At the end of the experiment, the average weight loss was only 17.4%. No macroinvertebrates were found associated to the debris, but significant differences in the processing rate in relation to the cave and mesh size were observed. The weight loss rate of the plant debris was considered slow (average 0.003 K-day). The amount of nitrogen and remaining phosphorous in the plant debris in the two caves showed variations over time with a tendency to increase probably due to the development of microorganisms which assimilate nitrogen and phosphorus. The slow processing rate of the plant debris can be due mainly to the fact that these lentic cave habitats are restrictive to colonization by shredder invertebrates. Furthermore, the abrasive force of the water, which plays an important role in the processing and availability of fragmented debris for colonization by microorganisms, is absent.


Influence of meteorological variables to water quality in five lakes over the Aggtelek (Hungary) and Slovak karst regions – a case study, 2013, Samu Andrea, Csépe Zoltán, Báránykevei Ilona

The main objective of this study is to analyse the effect of tendencies in the meteorological variables on the water quality on the example of five lakes in the Aggtelek and Slovak karst. The data set used eleven water quality parameters (oxygen saturation, chemical oxygen demand, nitrate, nitrite, orthophosphate, total phosphorus, ammonium, pH, conductivity, iron, manganese), as well as daily data of six climatic parameters from the period 2008­2010. A cluster analysis is performed in order to determine the climate impact on the water quality parameters. Furthermore, factor analysis with special transformation, as a novelty in the study, is implemented to find out the weight of the climate parameters as explanatory variables and hence their rank of importance in forming the given water quality parameter as an influencing variable. The study introduces a methodology for analysing the climate impact on the water quality parameters. In order to reduce the number of the water quality parameters, a so called two­stage factor analysis was performed, which is a novel procedure. Application of the two­stage factor analysis involves both benefits and disadvantages. Its benefit is that it substantially reduces the number of resultant variables. In this way, information loss of the retained factors is around 20%. As a result, we received that both positive and negative extreme values of water quality parameters can be associated with weak or breaking­up warm fronts passing through over the region. On the contrary, the role of anticyclones or anticyclone ridge weather situations is supposed to be irrelevant. Unstable and extreme weather conditions act in the direction of breaking up the balance that would support the good water quality. This process does not benefit the water use nor the sensitive karst hydrogeological system


Environmental controls on organic matter production and transport across surface-subsurface and geochemical boundaries in the Edwards aquifer, Texas, USA, 2013, Hutchins Benjamin T. , Schwartz Benjamin F. , Engel Annette S.

Karst aquifer phreatic zones are energy limited habitats supported by organic matter (OM) flow across physical and geochemical boundaries. Photosynthetic OM enters the Edwards Aquifer of Central Texas via streams sinking along its northeastern border. The southeastern boundary is marked by a rapid transition between oxygenated freshwaters and anoxic saline waters where OM is likely produced by chemolithoautotrophic microbes. Spatial and temporal heterogeneity in OM composition at these boundaries was investigated using isotopic and geochemical analyses. δ13C values for stream fine particulate OM (FPOM) (−33.34‰ to −11.47‰) decreased during regional drought between fall 2010 and spring 2012 (p<0.001), and were positively related to FPOM C:N ratios (r2 =0.47, p<0.001), possibly due to an increasing contribution of periphyton. Along the freshwater-saline water interface (FwSwI), δ 13CFPOM values (−7.23‰ to −58.18‰) correlated to δ13C values for dissolved inorganic carbon (δ13C DIC) (−0.55‰ to −7.91‰) (r2 =0.33, p=0.005) and were depleted relative to δ13C DIC values by 28.44‰, similar to fractionation values attributed to chemolithoautotrophic carbon fixation pathways using DIC as the substrate. δ13CFPOM values also became enriched through time (p<0.001), and δ13C DIC values (r2 =0.43, p<0.001) and δ13CFPOM values (r2 =0.35, p=0.004) at FwSwI sites increased with distance along the southwest-northeast flowpath of the aquifer. Spatial variability in FwSwI δ13C DIC values is likely due to variable sources of acidity driving carbonate dissolution, and the temporal relationship is explained by changes to recharge and aquifer level that affected transport of chemolithoautotrophic OM across the FwSwI.


ESR and 230h/234U dating of speleothems from Aladaglar Mountain Range (AMR) in Turkey , 2014, Ulusoya Ülkü, Anbara Gül, Bayarıb Serdar, Uysalc Tonguç

Electron spin resonance (ESR) and 230Th/234U ages of speleothem samples collected from karstic caves located around 3000 m elevation in the Aladağlar Mountain Range (AMR), south-central Turkey, were determined in order to provide new insight and information regarding late Pleistocene climate. ESR ages were validated with the 230Th/234U ages of test samples. The ESR ages of 21 different layers of six speleothem samples were found to range mostly between about 59 and 4 ka, which cover the Marine Oxygen Isotope Stages (MIS) MIS 3 to MIS 1. Among all, only six layers appear to have deposited during MIS 8 and 5. Most of the samples dated were deposited during the late glacial stage (MIS 2). It appears that a cooler climate with a perennial and steady recharge was more conducive to speleothem development rather than a warmer climate with seasonal recharge in the AMR during the late Quaternary. This argument supports previous findings that suggest a two -fold increase in last glacial maximum mean precipitation in Turkey with respect to the present value.


Fingerprinting water-rock interaction in hypogene speleogenesis: potential and limitations of isotopic depth-profiling, 2014, Spötl Ch, Dublyansky Y.

Dissolution processes in karst regions commonly involve (meteoric) water whose stable isotopic (O, H, C) composition is distinctly different from that of the paleowaters from which the host rock (limestone, dolostone) formed. This, in theory, should lead to isotopic alteration of the host rock beyond the active solution surface as the modern karst water is out of isotopic equilibrium with the carbonate rock. No such alteration has been reported, however, in epigenetic karst systems. In contrast, isotopic alteration, commonly referred to as isotopic halos or fronts, are known from various hypogene systems (ore deposits, active hydro­thermal systems, etc.). These empirical observations suggest that stable isotope data may be a diagnostic tool to identify hypogene water-rock interactions particularly in cave systems whose origin is ambiguous.

We have been testing the applicability of this assumption to karst settings by studying the isotopic composition of carbonate host rocks in a variety of caves showing clear-cut hypogene morphologies. Cores drilled into the walls of cave chambers and galleries were stud­ied petrographically and the C and O isotope composition was analyzed along these cores, which typically reached a depth of 0.5 to 1.2 m. We identified three scenarios: (a) no isotopic alteration, (b) a sigmoidal isotope front within a few centimeters of the cave wall, and (c) pervasive isotope alteration throughout the entire core length. Type (a) was found in caves where the rate of cave wall retreat apparently outpaced the rate of isotopic alteration of the wall rock (which is typical, for example, for sulfuric acid speleogenesis). Type (c) was observed in geologically young, porous limestone showing evidence of alteration zones up to 5 m wide. The intermediate type (b) was identified in hypogene karst cavities developed in tight limestone, dolostone and marble.

Our data in conjunction with evidence from speleothems and their geochemical and fluid-inclusion composition suggest that the spa­tial extent of the isotopic alteration front depends on the porosity and permeability, as well as on the saturation state of the water. Wider alteration zones primarily reflect a higher permeability. Shifts are most distinct for oxygen isotopes and less so for carbon, whereby the amplitude depends on a number of variables, including the isotopic composition of unaltered host rock, the isotopic composition of the paleofluid, the temperature, the water/rock ratio, the surface of water-rock contact, the permeability of the rock, and the time available for isotope exchange. If the other parameters can be reasonably constrained, then semi-quantitative temperature estimates of the paleowater can be obtained assuming isotopic equilibrium conditions.

If preserved (scenarios b and c), alteration fronts are a strong evidence of hypogene speleogenesis, and, in conjunction with hypogene precipitates, allow to fingerprint the isotopic and physical parameters of the altering paleofluid. The reverse conclusion is not valid, however; i.e. the lack of evidence of isotopic alteration of the cave wall rock cannot be used to rule out hypogene paleo-water-rock interaction.


HYPOGENE VS EPIGENE CAVES: THE SULFUR AND OXYGEN ISOTOPE FINGERPRINT, 2014, Onac, B. P.

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


Vadose CO2 gas drives dissolution at water tables in eogenetic karst aquifers more than mixing dissolution, 2014, Gulley J. , Martin J. , Moore P.

Most models of cave formation in limestone that remains near its depositional environment and has not been deeply buried (i.e. eogenetic limestone) invoke dissolution from mixing of waters that have different ionic strengths or have equilibrated with calcite at different pCO2 values. In eogenetic karst aquifers lacking saline water, mixing of vadose and phreatic waters is thought to form caves. We show here calcite dissolution in a cave in eogenetic limestone occurred due to increases in vadose CO2 gas concentrations and subsequent dissolution of CO2 into groundwater, not by mixing dissolution. We collected high-resolution time series measurements (1 year) of specific conductivity (SpC), temperature, meteorological data, and synoptic water chemical composition from a water table cave in central Florida (Briar Cave).We found SpC, pCO2 and calcite undersaturation increased through late summer, when Briar Cave experienced little ventilation by outside air, and decreased through winter, when increased ventilation lowered cave CO2(g) concentrations.We hypothesize dissolution occurred when water flowed from aquifer regions with low pCO2 into the cave, which had elevated pCO2. Elevated pCO2 would be promoted by fractures connecting the soil to the water table. Simple geochemical models demonstrate that changes in pCO2 of less than 1% along flow paths are an order of magnitude more efficient at dissolving limestone thanmixing of vadose and phreatic water.We conclude that spatially or temporally variable vadose CO2(g) concentrations are responsible for cave formation becausemixing is too slow to generate observed cave sizes in the time available for formation. While this study emphasized dissolution, gas exchange between the atmosphere and karst aquifer vadose zones that is facilitated by conduits likely exerts important controls on other geochemical processes in limestone critical zones by transporting oxygen deep into vadose zones, creating redox boundaries that would not exist in the absence of 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.


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,

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.


Hypogene speleogenesis in dolomite host rock by CO2-rich fluids, Kozak Cave (southern Austria), 2015,

A growing number of studies suggest that cave formation by deep-seated groundwater  (hypogene) is a more common process of subsurface water-rock interaction than previously  thought. Fossil hypogene caves are identified by a characteristic suite of morphological  features on different spatial scales. In addition, mineral deposits (speleothems) may provide  clues about the chemical composition of the paleowater, which range from CO2-rich to  sulfuric acid-bearing waters. This is one of the first studies to examine hypogene cave  formation in dolomite. Kozak Cave is a fossil cave near the Periadriatic Lineament, an area  known for its abundance of CO2-rich springs. The cave displays a number of macro-, mesoand  micromorphological elements found also in other hypogene caves hosted in limestone,  marble or gypsum, including cupolas, cusps, Laughöhle-type chambers and notches. The  existance of cupolas and cusps suggests a thermal gradient capable of sustaining free  convection during a first phase of speleogenesis, while triangular cross sections (Laughöhle  morphology) indicate subsequent density-driven convection close to the paleowater table Notches mark the final emergence of the cave due to continued rock uplift and valley  incision. Very narrow shafts near the end of the cave may be part of the initial feeder system,  but an epigene (vadose) overprint cannot be ruled out. Vadose speleothems indicate that the  phreatic phase ended at least about half a million years ago. Drill cores show no evidence of  carbon or oxygen isotope alteration of the wall rock. This is in contrast to similar studies in  limestone caves, and highlights the need for further wall-rock studies of caves hosted in  limestone and dolomite


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