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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. ...

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That strath terrace is an erosional remnant of an elevated broad river valley [16].?

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Featured articles from Cave & Karst Science Journals
Chemistry and Karst, White, William B.
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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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The origin of caves in the Black Hills has long been debated. Their history is long and complex, involving early diagenesis, meteoric karst (now paleokarst), deep burial, tectonic uplift, and, finally, enlargement of previous voids to the caves of today. The final stage is usually the only one recognized and is the topic of this paper. Genetic hypotheses include artesian flow, rising flow (preferably thermal), diffuse infiltration, and mixing of various water sources. The last process best fits the regional setting and water chemistry.  


Hypogene speleogenesis in the western United States is associated with a deep source of water and gases that rise and mix with shallow aquifer water. Caves are formed below the surface without surface expressions (ie, sinkholes, sinking streams), and byproducts of speleogenesis are precipitated during the late phase of hypogene speleogenesis. These byproducts provide geochemical and geochronological evidence of a region’s geologic history and include gypsum rinds and blocks, elemental sulfur, halloysite-10Å, alunite, natroalunite, and other sulfur-related minerals. The following speleogenetic and speleothemic features are common: alteration rinds, crusts, mammillaries, folia, rafts, and cave spar. The types of hypogene speleogenesis vary and many can be expressed in space and time in relation to paleo-water tables. We identify two general types: (1) H2S-H2SO4-dominated speleogenesis that takes place predominantly near a paleo-water table (a few meters above and below), and (2) CO2-dominated speleogenesis that mostly takes place 10s to 100s of meters below a paleo-water table, with latest-stage imprints within meters of the water table.
The Kane caves in Wyoming, and the Guadalupe Mountains caves in New Mexico and West Texas, are examples of H2S-H2SO4-dominated speleogenesis (also known as sulfuric acid speleogenesis, SAS), where deposits of H2S- and H2SO4-origin are the obvious fingerprints. The Grand Canyon caves in Arizona and Glenwood Caverns in Colorado are examples of CO2-dominated systems, where H2SO4 likely played a smaller role (Onac et al., 2007). Deeper-seated geode-like caves, like the spar caves in the Delaware Basin area, are probably CO2-dominated, and have formed at greater depths (~0.5 ± 0.3 km) below paleo-water tables. Caves in the Black Hills, South Dakota are composite and complex and show evidence for multiple phases of hypogene speleogenesis. In areas such as the Grand Canyon region, these paleo-water tables, when they existed in thick carbonate rock stratigraphy and especially at the top of the thick carbonate rock strata, were likely regionally relatively flat in the larger intact tectonic blocks.
Geochemical studies of these deposits are providing information about the timing of speleogenesis through U-Th, U-Pb, and Ar-dating. In addition, tracer data from isotopes of C, O, S, Sr, and U are indicators of the sources of water and gases involved in speleogenesis. From these studies, novel canyon incision and landscape evolution interpretations are appearing in the literature. Beyond this, the study of these byproduct materials seems to show evidence that the deeply sourced water and gases involved in hypogene speleogenesis in the western United States are generated during tectonic and volcanic activity, and may be related to mantle processes associated with formation of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Plateau, Basin and Range province, and Rio Grande Rift.



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.


Conspicuous brackish sulfidic springs have been described at the northern Sierra the Chiapas, Mexico. These springs are produced by a mixture between regional and local groundwater flow paths. The regional groundwater has an average Total Dissolved Ions of 3081 mg/L so it has a brackish composition. This brackish water is saturated with respect to calcite and dolomite but undersaturated with respect to gypsum, anhydrite and halite. The mass balance and the discharge rate are used to quantify the mass and volume of minerals that are dissolved by the brackish spring water following Appelo and Postma (1993). This quantification will allow comparing the various speleogenetic mechanisms in the area. This is considering the composition of the spring water is relatively constant over time, as it is suggested by periodic measurements at the Cueva de Villa Luz springs during the last 10 years.
Sulfur isotopes in the water are consistent with anhydrite dissolution as the main source of the sulfate to the brackish spring water. Thus, the average 6 mol/L of sulfate in the brackish springs are produced by dissolution of 6 mol of anhydrite after subtracting the sulfate that could result from evapotranspiration of rainwater. Each liter of brackish water dissolved an average of 882 mg of anhydrite, which are equivalent to dissolving 0.36 cm3 of this mineral considering a density of 2.981 g/cm3. Additionally, using the average brackish water discharge rate of 144 L/s, an average of 57 g of anhydrite are being dissolved each second per every liter of brackish water. This is a minimal value because some of the sulfate in the water is used by sulfate-reducing bacteria in the subsurface to produce the hydrogen sulfide in the spring water. The anhydrite subject to dissolution is found interbedded in the Cretaceous carbonates, either from the subsurface at 4,000 m below sea level to the carbonate outcrops.
Similarly, we can calculate the volume of halite that is being dissolved by the brackish springs, considering chloride is a conservative element and subtracting the chloride concentration from the rainwater from that of the spring water following Appelo & Postma (1993). The 22 mol/L of chloride in the brackish water can result from dissolution in the subsurface of 22 moles or 1.3 g of halite per liter of brackish water. This mass of halite dissolved is equal to 0.59 cm3 considering a density of 2.168 g/cm3. Alternatively, 118 g of halite are dissolved per second per each liter of brackish water if we use the average discharge rate of 144 L/s.
Even when the brackish springs are oversaturated with respect to calcite and dolomite, their dissolution is still possible due to the common ion-effect of calcium after anhydrite dissolution and by mixing of waters with different compositions. A range of 10 to 80 % of brackish water from the regional aquifers mixes with fresh water from the local aquifer based on their water chemistry. Additionally, sulfuric acid speleogenesis occurs due to the oxidation of hydrogen sulfide to sulfuric acid.
Finally, the increase in the chloride concentration of the fresh water springs with respect to the concentration in rainwater was used to estimate that from the 4000 mm/y of annual precipitation, only 4%, 158 to 182 mm/y, recharge the aquifers. This low percentage is slightly higher than the 3.3% recharge in marls, marly limestone, silts and clays (Sanz et al., 2011), probably because of the relatively small area of carbonate outcrops over the entire region and the lack of recharge in altitudes higher than 1500 m above sea level.
Sulfuric acid is the most obvious speleogenetic mechanism occurring in the caves of the northern Sierra de Chiapas, Mexico due to the high hydrogen sulfide concentration in the spring water. In addition, the location of the springs at a zone of regional and local discharge where waters from different composition converge and mix, and the amount of mixing calculated suggests mixing is also an important speleogenetic mechanism. However, the depth and the time constrains at which these two hypogenic mechanisms occur is still unknown. The relatively low rainwater recharge rate suggests epigenesis is limited. Most likely, the porosity created by dissolution of anhydrite and halite in the subsurface is occluded by the precipitation of calcite. Chemical modeling and petrography will help to elucidate the order of the reactions occurring in the subsurface.


Subaerial corrosion has been recognized as an important cave modifying process in limited settings. But is it possible that we overlook its importance in other cases? Could it actually be a significant speleogenetic agent in its own right? Numerous corroding agents have been identified including sulfuric acid, carbonic acid, ambient water vapor, and thermal water vapor. Morphogenetic features have been described, and cautions issued about possible confusion with hypogene features. Theoretical calculations seem to limit the importance of corrosion in many settings, but it appears that great care must be taken, especially for possible confusion between “hypogene” morphologies in a cave.
Some caves in the Iberian Range (Spain) seem undoubtedly hypogene in origin based on hydrologic constraints. They also contain morphologies that are consistent with this origin. But, extreme corrosion of speleothems and bedrock may be masking the nature of the cave morphology post-drainage of the forming waters. Topographic position of some caves suggests the possibility of a strong component of subaerial corrosion as the cave forming agent


Defined in the most general way, hypogene speleogenesis is the origin of caves in which the cave-forming agency comes from depth, in contrast to epigene speleogenesis in which the cave-forming agency (meteoric recharge and its inherent or soil-derived aggressiveness) originates at the surface. A more specific definition should rely on attributes of the cave-forming agency which are most suitable and efficient for discrimination between epigene and hypogene origin of caves.
Relying on the determination of a source of the aggressiveness in distinguishing hypogene speleogenesis is the legitimate approach but it is not a methodologically sound and practically efficient one.
The hydrogeological approach and the reference to upwelling groundwater circulation in the definition of hypogene speleogenesis provide a theoretically and methodologically sound basis not only for identifying the type of speleogenesis, but also for spatial and temporal prognosis of hypogene speleogenesis.

Molecular analyses of microbial abundance and diversity in the water column of anchialine caves in Mallorca, Spain., 2014, Menning D. M. , Boop L. M. , Graham E. D. , Garey J. R.

Water column samples from the island of Mallorca, Spain were collected from one site in Cova des Pas de Vallgornera (Vallgornera) and three sites (Llac Martel, Llac Negre, and Llac de les Delícies) in Coves del Drac (Drac). Vallgornera is located on the southern coast of Mallorca approximately 57 km southwest of Coves del Drac. Drac is Europe's most visited tourist cave, whereas Vallgornera is closed to the public. Water samples were analyzed for water chemistry using spectrophotometric methods, by quantitative PCR for estimated total abundance of microbial communities, and by length heterogeneity PCR for species richness and relative species abundance of Archaea, Bacteria, and microbial eukaryotes. Estimated total abundance was multiplied by relative species abundance to determine the absolute species abundance. All sites were compared to determine spatial distributions of the microbial communities and to determine water column physical and chemical gradients. Water quality and community structure data indicate that both Drac Delícies and Drac Negre have distinct biogeochemical gradients. These sites have communities that are similar to Vallgornera but distinct from Drac Martel, only a few hundred meters away. Drac Martel is accessible to the general public and had the most dissimilar microbial community of all the sites. Similarities among communities at sites in Drac and Vallgornera suggest that these two spatially separated systems are operating under similar ecological constraints.

The use of damaged speleothems and in situ fault displacement monitoring to characterise active tectonic structures: an example from Zapadni Cave, Czech Republic , 2014, Briestensky Milos, Stemberk Josef, Rowberry Matt D. ,

The EU-TecNet fault displacement monitoring network records three-dimensional displacements across specifically selected tectonic structures within the crystalline basement of central Europe. This paper presents a study of recent and active tectonics at Západní Cave in northern Bohemia (Czech Republic). It extends previous geological research by measuring speleothem damage in the cave and monitoring displacements across two fault structures situated within the Lusatian Thrust Zone. The speleothem damage reflects strike-slip displacement trends: the WSW-ENE striking fault is associated with dextral strike-slip displacement while the NNW-SSE striking fault is associated with sinistral strike-slip displacement. These measurements demonstrate that the compressive stress σ1 is located in the NW or SE quadrant while the tensile stress σ3 is oriented perpendicular to σ1, i.e. in the NE or SW quadrant. The in situ fault displacement monitoring has confirmed that movements along the WSW-ENE striking fault reflect dextral strike-slip while movements along the NNW-SSE striking fault reflect sinistral strike-slip. In addition, however, monitoring across the NNW-SSE striking fault has demonstrated relative vertical uplift of the eastern block and, therefore, this fault is characterised by oblique movement trends. The fault displacement monitoring has also shown notable periods of increased geodynamic activity, referred to as pressure pulses, in 2008, 2010-2011, and 2012. The fact that the measured speleothem damage and the results of fault displacement monitoring correspond closely confirms the notion that, at this site, the compressive stress σ1 persists in the NW or SE quadrant. The presented results offer an insight into the periodicity of pressure pulses, demonstrate the need for protracted monitoring periods in order to better understanding geodynamic processes, and show that it is possible to characterise the displacements that occur across individual faults in a way that cannot be accomplished from geodetic measurements obtained by Global Navigation Satellite Systems.

Hydrogeological and Environmental Investigations in Karst Systems, 2014,

Karst is the result of climatic and geohydrological processes, mainly in carbonate and evaporite rocks, during geological periods of Earth history. Dissolution of these rock formations over time has generated karst aquifers and environments of significant water and mineral resources. In addition, beautiful landscapes have been created which constitute natural parks, geosites, and caves. Due to their origin and nature, karstified areas require investigation with special techniques and methodology. International collaboration and discussions on advances in karst research are necessary to promote Karst Science. The International Symposium on Karst Aquifers is one of the worldwide events held periodically to specifically address karst environments. The symposium constitutes an ongoing international forum for scientific discussion on the progress made in research in karst environments. The first and second symposiums were organized in Nerja (near Malaga, Spain), in 1999 and 2002; the third and fourth symposiums were held in Malaga city in 2006 and 2010. The 5th International Symposium on Karst Aquifers (ISKA5) occurred in Malaga on during October 14–16, 2014. It was organized by the Centre of Hydrogeology University of Málaga (CEHIUMA) and the Spanish Geological Survey (IGME), in cooperation with UNESCO and the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) Karst Commission. More than 100 contributions were received from 30 countries on five continents. Presentations made during the symposium and published in this book are a compendium of 70 of these manuscripts. Papers submitted by April 2014, were peer-reviewed and subsequently accepted by the Scientific Committee. Contributions are grouped into five sections:

• Methods Utilized to Study Karst Aquifers.

• Karst Hydrogeology.

• Mining and Engineering in Karst media.

• Karst Cavities.

• Karst Geomorphology and Landscape.

A large part of the contributions, 30 %, is related to Methods Utilized to Study Karst Aquifers. Several issues are addressed: methods for groundwater recharge assessment, dye tracer and stable isotope applications, analysis of hydrodynamic data and hydrochemistry, among others. Most contributions, 40 %, however, are on Karst Hydrogeology. These are primarily in connection with various topics such as numerical modeling in karst, floods, karst groundwater flow, protection of karst aquifers or pollution, and vulnerability in karst. Five percent of the published papers deal with Mining and Engineering in Karst Media. These papers are about tunnels, hydrogeological risks, and karst risk assessment in mining and civil engineering. Another section concerning Karst Cavities encompasses 15 % of the contributions. These chapters deal with corrosion and speleogenetic processes, speleothems, CO2 sources, the global carbon cycle in endokarst, and the study of past climate. Karst Geomorphology and Landscape constitutes the remaining 10 % of the contributions. These papers are related to karst features, wetlands, hypogene speleogenesis, geodiversity, and karstic geosites. The results of project work performed by karst specialists worldwide are described in the book. Included in it are experiences from pilot sites, methodologies, monitoring, and data analyses in various climatic, geological, and hydrogeological contexts. Material presented may be utilized for activities such as teaching and technical-professional applications particularly as they apply to the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of karst studies. Information provided may also be useful to decisions makers in making critical decisions regarding development in karst regions. Scientists and engineers and many of the lay public interested in karst environments will benefit from the contents

Cuevas hipogénicas en la Región de Murcia – España, 2014, Ros Andrés, Llamusí José L. , Sánchez Juan

First publication of three volumes devoted to hypogenic caves in the region of Murcia - Spain. Most of the caves in this region of southwestern Spain are of hypogene origin. In this first volume eight caves are analyzed in their hypogean aspects: networks, morphologies and speleothems. The hypogenic characteristics of each studied caves are tabulated. This table demonstrates the common elements and features of hypogenic caves and can be used  to recognize  this origin for other caves. The publication is in Spanish.

The current status of mapping karst areas and availability of public sinkhole-risk resources in karst terrains of the United States, 2015,

Subsidence from sinkhole collapse is a common occurrence in areas underlain by water-soluble rocks such as carbonate and evaporite rocks, typical of karst terrain. Almost all 50 States within the United States (excluding Delaware and Rhode Island) have karst areas, with sinkhole damage highest in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. A conservative estimate of losses to all types of ground subsidence was $125 million per year in 1997. This estimate may now be low, as review of cost reports from the last 15 years indicates that the cost of karst collapses in the United States averages more than $300 million per year. Knowing when a catastrophic event will occur is not possible; however, understanding where such occurrences are likely is possible. The US Geological Survey has developed and main-tains national-scale maps of karst areas and areas prone to sinkhole formation. Several States provide additional resources for their citizens; Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania maintain databases of sinkholes or karst features, with Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio providing sinkhole reporting mechanisms for the public.

Hidden sinkholes and karst cavities in the travertine plateau of a highly-populated geothermal seismic territory (Tivoli, central Italy), 2015,

Sinkholes and other karst structures in settled carbonate lands can be a significant source of hazard for humans and human works. Acque Albule, the study area of this work, is a Plio-Pleistocene basin near Rome, central Italy, superficially filled by a large and thick deposit of late Pleistocene thermogene travertine. Human activities blanket large portions of the flat territory covering most evidence from geological surface processes and potentially inducing scientists and public officials to underestimate some natural hazards including those connected with sinkholes. To contribute to the proper assessment of these hazards, a geomorphologic study of the basin was performed using digital elevation models (DEMs), recent aerial photographs, and field surveys. Historical material such as old aerial photographs and past geomorphologic studies both pre-dating the most part of quarrying and village building was also used together with memories of the elderly population. This preliminary study pointed out the presence of numerous potentially active sinkholes that are at present largely masked by either quarrying or overbuilding. Where this first study pointed out the apparent absence of sinkholes in areas characterized by high density of buildings, a detailed subsurface study was performed using properly-calibrated electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and dynamic penetration measurements (DPSH), together with some borehole logs made available from the local municipality. This second study highlighted the presence of sinkholes and caves that are, this time, substantially hidden to the resolution of standard methods and materials such as aerial photographs, DEMs, and field surveys. Active sinkhole subsidence in the Acque Albule Basin may explain, at least in part, the frequent damages that affect numerous buildings in the area. The main conclusion from this study is that the mitigation of sinkhole hazard in highly populated areas has to pass through a thorough search of (hidden) sinkholes that can be masked by the Anthropocenic molding and blanketing of the territory. For these purposes, data from historical (pre-Anthropocene) documents as well as, where possible, subsurface investigations are fundamental.

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