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Enviroscan Ukrainian Institute of Speleology and Karstology

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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 condensation is the transition from vapor to liquid state [16].?

Checkout all 2699 terms in the KarstBase Glossary of Karst and Cave Terms

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What is Karstbase?



Browse Speleogenesis Issues:

KarstBase a bibliography database in karst and cave science.

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 mites (Keyword) returned 235 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 226 to 235 of 235
Morphology of Speleothems in Primary (Lava-) and Secondary Caves, 2013,
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Kempe, S.


Caves are defined as natural underground cavities (potentially) accessible by humans. They are decorated by various forms of speleothems that have always fascinated the human explorer. Caves are divided into primary and secondary caves, that is, formed with, or long after the deposition of the rocks containing them. The largest group of primary caves is that formed by flowing lava, whereas the largest group of secondary caves is that formed in limestone. Both display specific forms of speleothems. Although primary caves can contain primary speleothems composed of the rock that formed the cave as well as secondary speleothems formed by later deposition of minerals, secondary caves in contrast contain only secondary mineral speleothems. Rock- and mineral-composed speleothems commonly have similar morphology, determined by gravity, that is, stalactites and stalagmites. However, both primary and secondary speleothems also display forms that are specific to them. Rock speleothems are composed of basalt, whereas secondary speleothems can be composed of over 250 different minerals.

In this chapter, we explore differences and similarities of primary rock- and secondary mineral-speleothems and discuss processes of their formation.

Layer-bounding surfaces in stalagmites as keys to better paleoclimatological histories and chronologies, 2013,
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Railsback L. B. , Akers P. D. , Wang L. , Holdridge G. A. , Riavo Voarintsoa N.

Petrographic recognition of layer-bounding surfaces in stalagmites offers an important tool in constructing paleoclimate records. Previous petrographic efforts have examined thickness of layers (a possible proxy for annual rainfall) and alternation of layers in couplets (a possible indicator of seasonality). Layer-bounding surfaces, in contrast, delimit series of layers and represent periods of non-deposition, either because of exceptionally wet or exceptionally dry conditions.

Two types of layer-bounding surfaces can be recognized according to explicitly defined petrographic criteria. Type E layer-bounding surfaces are surfaces at which layers have been truncated or eroded at the crest of a stalagmite. Keys to their recognition include irregular termination of layers otherwise present on the stalagmite’s flank, dissolutional cavities, and coatings of non-carbonate detrital materials. Type E surfaces are interpreted to represent wet periods during which drip water became so undersaturated as to dissolve pre-existing stalagmite layers, and thus they necessarily represent hiatuses in the stalagmite record. Type L layer-bounding surfaces are surfaces below which layers become thinner upward and/or layers have lesser lateral extent upward, so that the stalagmite’s layer-specific width decreases. They are thus surfaces of lessened deposition and are interpreted to represent drier conditions in which drip rate slowed so much that little deposition occurred. A Type L surface may, but does not necessarily, represent a hiatus in deposition. However, radiometric age data show that Type L surfaces commonly represent significant hiatuses.

These surfaces are significant to paleoclimate research both for their implications regarding climate change (exceptionally wet or dry conditions) and in construction of chronologies in which other data, such as stable isotope ratios, are placed. With regard to climate change, recognition of these surfaces provides paleoclimatological information that can complement or even substitute for geochemical proxies. With regard to chronologies, recognition of layer- bounding surfaces allows correct placement of hiatuses in chronologies and thus correct placement of geochemical data in time series. Attention to changing thickness of annual layers and thus to accumulation rate can also refine a chronology. A chronology constructed with attention to layer-bounding surfaces and to changing layer thickness is much more accurate than a chronology in which hiatuses are not recognized at such surfaces.

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Ford Derek


Marl lakes are those accumulating fine-grained bottom sediments that include at least 15% CaCO3. They are found worldwide. The most visually attractive, however, have higher proportions of CaCO3, with crystallites precipitating in the water to give it a rich and opaque duck-egg blue colouration. From the literature, such lakes are largely limited to recently glaciated carbonate rock terrains. Most are also shallow, with much or all of the water column being in the photic zone. Little Limestone Lake, (Lat. 53°47’N, Long. 99°19’W in the province of Manitoba) is the finest example that the author has seen. It stands out sharply from neighbouring lakes in summertime colour satellite imagery due to the intensity and uniformity of its colour. The lake occupies a shallow glacial trough scoured in a plain of flat-lying cyclothem dolomites. It is ~12 km long, 1–5 km wide, rarely >7 m deep. Including bordering wetlands, it occupies ~45 % of the area of an elongated, narrow topographic basin. Recharge is through impoverished boreal forest with little soil cover; it discharges chiefly as springs and seeps along and below the shore. Mean annual temperature is ~0 °C, and precipitation is ~475 mm.y1. Previous studies of springs in the surrounding region showed ground waters to be simple bicarbonate composition, with TDS = 230–300 mg.l-1 (Ca 40–60 mg.l-1, Mg 30–40 mg.l-1). Grab sampling at 27 sites throughout the lake found the waters de-gassed to 125–135 mg.l-1, placing them in the mid-range of one hundred marl lakes investigated in more detail in the British Isles. Ca was reduced to 25–30 mg.l-1, while Mg was stable at 30–40 mg.l-1. There were 2–3 mg.l-1 of free CO3 in two fully analysed samples, indicating that plankton photosynthesis might be occurring. However, samples of the bottom marl were predominantly inorganic in their composition. Little Limestone Lake is visually spectacular because it is almost entirely groundwater-fed, with a ratio of recharge area to lake area that is low. It has no large, chemically equilibrated, surface streams entering it. In contrast, the dozens of nearby lakes (similar, larger or smaller in size) are regularly flushed by channelled storm water and, although they also produce some carbonate marl, cannot maintain high densities of crystallites in suspension. Little Limestone Lake was placed under legislated protection as a provincial park in June 2011.

Three new hyporheic water mite species from Australia (Acari: Hydrachnidia), 2013,
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Harry Smit

Three new hyporheic water mite species are described from Australia, viz.Wandesia minutaPartidomomonia elongata and Mellamunda tasmanica. With the description of these three species, some 50 hyporheic water mites species are known from Australia. In this paper the firstPartidomomonia species for Tasmania is described, the third Wandesiaspecies for Australia as well as the second species of the genusMellamunda.

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Osborne R. A. L. , Weliange W. S. , Jayasingha Pathmakumara, Dandeniya A. S. , Algiriya A. K. Prageeth P. & Pogson Ross E.

There has been little study of the geology and geomorphology of the caves and karst­like features developed in the Proterozoic gneiss and Cambrian granite of Sri Lanka. This lack of study is surprising given that caves and rockshelters in these rocks contain significant archaeological and cultural sites. Caves and karren, both mimicking those developed in carbonate rocks, have formed both in gneiss, which is the dominant rock type of the Proterozoic crust of the island and in granite. In addition to overhangs, boulder caves, soil pipes and tectonic caves, tunnel caves, arch caves and block breakdown caves of significant size are developed in siliceous rocks in Sri Lanka. while metamorphosed dolomites are interfoliated within the gneissic suite, simple removal of carbonate by solution from within the surrounding rock cannot account for all or most of the speleogenesis observed. while spalling and breakdown are responsible for cave enlargement, cave initiation is probably due to either phreatic solution of silicates and/or phantom rock processes. Speleothems and cave minerals including silicates, phosphates, gypsum, carbonates and niter are found in the caves. Active silicate speleothems are not restricted to joints and fissures and suggest that solution of silicates is currently occurring within the body of the rock in the vadose zone. while guano is the likely source of the phosphate, sulfate and nitrate, the source of the calcium in the carbonates remains unclear. Caves in the intrusive and metamorphic rocks of Sri Lanka are enigmatic. They are unexpectedly similar in appearance to their carbonate karst counterparts. Continuing research will allow them to hold a mirror to our understanding of speleogenesis, mineralization and sedimentation in carbonate karst caves.

Biologically influenced stalagmites in Niah and Mulu caves (Sarawak, Malaysia), 2013,
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Dodgewan Dominique, Deng Hui Min Angela

There are two significant karst regions in northern Sarawak (Malaysia): Niah and Mulu. Both are famous worldwide for their well developed caves. Here we document the presence of over twenty unusual stalagmites in six cave entrances in these two regions. One of the stalagmites has been previously described as a crayback stalagmite (Lundberg and McFarlane 2011) and they all show indications of biological influence. Our study aimed to establish the locations within the cave entrances where these stalagmites are present and to provide a preliminary overview of the stalagmite forms. The environment, and especially availability and direction of light, was also studied at several sites. Surface scrapings were examined for the presence of cyanobacteria. The morphology of the unusual stalagmites is variable and includes forms that are elongated and craybacklike and others that show features not previously described in craybacks: flat tops, bulbous protuberances, phototropic rims, irregular grooves and ridges and oriented coralloid growth. Several of these features are not found in abiotic stalagmites and suggest biological control. The findings of light surveys confirm that certain features of the stalagmites are phototropically controlled. Filamentous cyanobacteria with calcified sheaths and coccoid cyanobacteria are present. we propose that this diverse group of stalagmite be named “tufaceous stalagmite” of which craybacks are thought to be a sub­group.

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Borges S. , Casarin C. , Menezes C. , Srivastava N. , Silva R. , Bezerra F. , Auler A.

The Toca da Boa Vista and Barriguda caves are located in Northeastern Brazil. They occur in the Neoproterozoic carbonates (limestones and dolomites) of the Salitre Formation, located at Irecê Basin. This set of rocks occurs within the São Francisco Craton, a region that was not affected by the Brasiliano-Pan-African orogeny (Pedreira et al., 1987). The caves occur at a dis­tance of approximately 300 m apart and there is a possibility of a link between them, but so far this has not been proven. Toca da Boa Vista has about 108 km of mapped passages and is therefore the largest cave in South America. Toca da Barriguda is smaller and has about 32 km of mapped galleries.

The architecture of the Toca da Boa Vista and Barriguda caves present both a 2D network and spongework type (Auler, 2009). The control of the conduits is related to faults, fractures and axial planes of antiforms. The general configuration of the caves seems to follow the Pacuí riverbed that has its channel located about 1km southeast. The origin of these hypogenic caves was first postulated by Auler & Smart (2004), who described some hypogenic features and reported a acid source (H2S) coming from existing pyrite in carbonates to explain the corrosion and dissolution of carbonate rocks. Klimchouk (2009) wrote about the need to investigate deeper this issue. He drew attention to the apparent feeders presence coming from the lower aquifer as well as to the importance of determi­nation of the source of acidity, since the amount of pyrite present doesn’t seem to be significant for the origin and development of the caves by hypogenic speleogenesis.

Although the origin and development of the caves are still under discussion, abundant hypogenic forms are present. Feeders, rising wall channels, half ceiling tubes, half wall tubes, ceiling cupolas, convection cupolas and wall niches are the major forms found. The linear geometry of caves suggests that they have a structural control. In addition, cavities generated at Toca da Boa Vista and Barriguda caves seem to follow the same stratigraphic level, as well as existing permeable structures such as fractures, faults and axial planes of antiforms. The process of ascending flow through these structures has resulted in the opening of the cavities by hypogenic dissolution as well as the collapse of blocks caused by the lack of sustainability of the layers generated by the voids left by the dis­solution. Outlets that would flow to levels above were not found. The origin and evolution of the cave system, however, needs further investigation.

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Riva, A.

In the Triassic of successions of the Italian Dolomites (Northern Italy), there are several examples of different types of hypogene paleokarst, sometimes associated with sulfur or hematite ore deposits.The paleokarst features are related to a regional volcanic event occurred during the Ladinian (Middle Triassic) that affected several carbonate platforms of Anisian-Ladinian age.This study is focusing mainly on the Latemar paleokarst, in the Western Dolomites, and on the Salafossa area in the Easternmost Dolomites.
The karst at Latemar developed as the result of a magmatic intrusion located just below the isolated carbonate platform, developing a system of phreatic conduits and some underground chambers, not justified by the entity of the submarine exposure occurring at the top of the carbonate platform. Most of these features are located about 500 m below the subaerial unconformity and are filled with middle Triassic lavas. Only in one case, the filling is represented by banded crusts now totally dolomitized, with abundant hematite. In this case, the only way to explain the presence of the karst at this depth is to invoke a deep CO2 source allowing the dissolution of the carbonate at such depths: the fact that some phreatic conduits and a possible underground chamber are filled only with lavas is pointing toward an important role of volcanism in karst development.
Salafossa is a well-known mine located in the easternmost Dolomites and has been exploited until 1986, when all the activity ceased. The main metals, in this case, are Zn-Pb-Ba-Fe, exploited within a quite complex paleokarst system developed in several levels, filled by a complex mineralized sequence. The strong dissolution led to the development of voids aligned with the main fault controlling the mineralization, with a proper karst system with phreatic morphologies.

Paleoflood events recorded by speleothems in caves, 2014,
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Gazquez F. , Calaforra J. M. , Forti P. , Stoll H. , Ghaleb B. , Delgadohuertas A.

Speleothems are usually composed of thin layers of calcite (or aragonite). However,
cemented detrital materials interlayered between laminae of speleothemic carbonate have been also observed in many caves. Flowstones comprising discontinuous carbonate layers form due to flowing water films,while flood events introduce fluviokarstic sediments in caves that, on occasion,are recorded as clayey layers inside flowstones and stalagmites. This record provides a potential means of understand­ing the frequency of palaeofloods using cave records.In this work,we investigate the origin of this type of detritaldeposit in El Soplao Cave (Northern Spain). The age of the lowest aragonite layer
of a flowstone reveals that the earliest flood period occurred before 500 ka, though most of the flowstone formed between 422 +69/-43 ka and 400 +66/-42 ka. This suggests that the cave was periodically affected by palaeoflood events that introduced detrital sediments from the surface as a result of occasional extreme rainfall events,especially at around 400 ka.The mineralogical data enable an evolutionary modelfor this flowstone to be generated based on the alternation offload events with laminar flows and carbonate layers precipitation that can be extrapolated to other caves in which detrital sediments inside speleothems have been found. 

Karstification of Dolomitic Hills at south of Coimbra (western-central Portugal) - Depositional facies and stratigraphic controls of the (palaeo)karst affecting the Coimbra Group (Lower Jurassic), 2014,
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Dimuccio, Luca Antonio

An evolutionary model is proposed to explain the spatio-temporal distribution of karstification affecting the Lower Jurassic shallow-marine carbonate succession (Coimbra Group) of the Lusitanian Basin, cropping out in the Coimbra-Penela region (western-central Portugal), in a specific morphostructural setting (Dolomitic Hills). Indeed, in the Coimbra Group, despite the local lateral and vertical distributions of dolomitic character and the presence of few thick sandy-argillaceous/shale and marly interbeds, some (meso)karstification was identified, including several microkarstification features. All types of karst forms are commonly filled by autochthonous and/or allochthonous post-Jurassic siliciclastics, implying a palaeokarstic nature.

The main aim of this work is to infer the interplay between depositional facies, diagenesis, syn- and postdepositional discontinuities and the spatio-temporal distribution of palaeokarst. Here, the palaeokarst concept is not limited to the definition of a landform and/or possibly to an associated deposit (both resulting from one or more processes/mechanisms), but is considered as part of the local and regional geological record.

Detailed field information from 21 stratigraphic sections (among several dozens of other observations) and from structural-geology and geomorphological surveys, was mapped and recorded on graphic logs showing the lithological succession, including sedimentological, palaeontological and structural data. Facies determination was based on field observations of textures and sedimentary structures and laboratory petrographic analysis of thin-sections. The karst and palaeokarst forms (both superficial and underground) were classified and judged on the basis of present-day geographic location, morphology, associated discontinuities, stratigraphic position and degree of burial by post-Jurassic siliciclastics that allowed to distinguish a exposed karst (denuded or completely exhumed) than a palaeokarst (covered or partially buried).

A formal lithostratigrafic framework was proposed for the local ca. 110-m-thick combined successions of Coimbra Group, ranging in age from the early Sinemurian to the early Pliensbachian and recorded in two distinct subunits: the Coimbra formation, essentially dolomitic; and the overlying S. Miguel formation, essentially dolomitic-limestone and marly-limestone.

The 15 identified facies were subsequently grouped into 4 genetically related facies associations indicative of sedimentation within supra/intertidal, shallow partially restricted subtidal-lagoonal, shoal and more open-marine (sub)environments - in the context of depositional systems of a tidal flat and a very shallow, inner part of a low-gradient, carbonate ramp. In some cases, thick bedded breccia bodies (tempestites/sismites) are associated to synsedimentary deformation structures (slumps, sliding to the W to NW), showing the important activity of N–S and NNE–SSW faults, during the Sinemurian. All these deposits are arranged into metre-scale, mostly shallowing-upward cycles, in some cases truncated by subaerial exposure events. However, no evidence of mature pedogenetic alteration, or the development of distinct soil horizons, was observed. These facts reflect very short-term subaerial exposure intervals (intermittent/ephemeral), in a semiarid palaeoclimatic setting but with an increase in the humidity conditions during the eogenetic stage of the Coimbra Group, which may have promoted the development of micropalaeokarstic dissolution (eogenetic karst).

Two types of dolomitization are recognized: one (a) syndepositional (or early diagenetic), massive-stratiform, of “penesaline type”, possibly resulting from refluxing brines (shallow-subtidal), with a primary dolomite related to the evaporation of seawater, under semiarid conditions (supra/intertidal) and the concurrent action of microbial activity; another (b) later, localized, common during diagenesis (sometimes with dedolomitization), particularly where fluids followed discontinuities such as joints, faults, bedding planes and, in some cases, pre-existing palaeokarstic features.

The very specific stratigraphic position of the (palaeo)karst features is understood as a consequence of high facies/microfacies heterogeneities and contrasts in porosity (both depositional and its early diagenetic modifications), providing efficient hydraulic circulation through the development of meso- and macropermeability contributed by syn- and postdepositional discontinuities such as bedding planes, joints and faults. These hydraulic connections significantly influenced and controlled the earliest karst-forming processes (inception), as well as the degree of subsequent karstification during the mesogenetic/telogenetic stages of the Coimbra Group. Multiple and complex karstification (polyphase and polygenic) were recognized, including 8 main phases, to local scale, integrated in 4 periods, to regional scale: Jurassic, Lower Cretaceous, pre-Pliocene and Pliocene-Quaternary. Each phase of karstification comprise a specific type of (palaeo)karst (eogenetic, subjacent, denuded, mantled-buried and exhumed).

Finally, geological, geomorphological and hydrogeological characteristics allowed to describe the local aquifer. The elaborated map of intrinsic vulnerability shows a karst/fissured and partially buried aquifer (palaeokarst) with high to very high susceptibility to the contamination.

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