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Enviroscan Ukrainian Institute of Speleology and Karstology


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Community news

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 skylight is a hole in the roof of a cave passage through to the ground surface. it may be an inlet shaft, a section of collapse or a breach due to surface lowering [9].?

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


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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;
See all featured articles from other geoscience journals

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Your search for record (Keyword) returned 703 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 691 to 703 of 703
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.


Hypogene Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis and rare sulfate minerals in Baume Galini`ere Cave (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France). Record of uplift, correlative cover retreat and valley dissection, 2015,
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Audra Philippe, Gґazquez Fernando, Rull Fernando, Bigot Jeanyves, Camus Hubert

The oxidation of hydrocarbons and sulfide sources (H2S, pyrite) produces sulfuric acid that strongly reacts with bedrock, causing limestone dissolution and complex interactions with other minerals from the bedrock or from cave fillings, mainly clays. This type of cave development, known as Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), is a subcategory of hypogene speleogenesis, where aggressive water rises from depth. It also produces uncommon minerals, mainly sulfates, the typical byproducts of SAS. Baume Galinière is located in Southern France, in the Vaucluse spring watershed. This small maze cave displays characteristic SAS features such as corrosion notches, calcite geodes, iron crusts, and various sulfate minerals. Sulfur isotopes of SAS byproducts (jarosite and gypsum) clearly show they derive from pyrite oxidation. Using XRD and micro-Raman spectroscopy, thirteen minerals were identified, including elemental sulfur, calcite, quartz, pyrite, goethite, gypsum, fibroferrite, plus all of the six members of the jarosite subgroup (jarosite, argentojarosite, ammoniojarosite, hydroniumjarosite, natrojarosite, plumbojarosite). The Baume Galinière deposits are the first documented cave occurrence of argentojarosite and the second known occurrence of plumbojarosite, hydronium jarosite, ammoniojarosite, and fibroferrite. In the Vaucluse watershed, there were numerous upwellings of deep water along major faults, located at the contact of the karstic aquifer and the overlying impervious covers. The mixing of deep and meteoric waters at shallow depths caused pyrite depositions in numerous caves, including Baume Galinière. Sulfuric acid speleogenesis occurred later after base-level drop, when the cave was under shallow phreatic conditions then in the vadose zone, with oxidation of pyrites generating sulfuric acid. Attenuated oxidation is still occurring through condensation of moisture from incoming air. Baume Galinière Cave records the position of the semi-impervious paleo-cover and documents its retreat in relationship to valley incision caused by uplift and tilting of the Vaucluse block during the Neogene.


Hypogene Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis and rare sulfate minerals in Baume Galinière Cave (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France). Record .., 2015,
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Audra P. , Gázquez F. , Rull F. , Bigot J. Y. , Camus H.

The oxidation of hydrocarbons and sulfide sources (H2S, pyrite) produces sulfuric acid that strongly reacts with bedrock, causing limestone dissolution and complex interactions with other minerals from the bedrock or from cave fillings, mainly clays. This type of cave development, known as Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), is a subcategory of hypogene speleogenesis, where aggressive water rises from depth. It also produces uncommon minerals, mainly sulfates, the typical byproducts of SAS. Baume Galinière is located in Southern France, in the Vaucluse spring watershed. This small maze cave displays characteristic SAS features such as corrosion notches, calcite geodes, iron crusts, and various sulfate minerals. Sulfur isotopes of SAS byproducts (jarosite and gypsum) clearly show they derive from pyrite oxidation. Using XRD and micro-Raman spectroscopy, thirteen minerals were identified, including elemental sulfur, calcite, quartz, pyrite, goethite, gypsum, and fibroferrite, plus all of the six members of the jarosite subgroup (jarosite, argentojarosite, ammoniojarosite, hydroniumjarosite, natrojarosite, plumbojarosite). The Baume Galinière deposits are the first documented cave occurrence of argentojarosite and the second known occurrence of plumbojarosite, hydronium jarosite, ammoniojarosite, and fibroferrite. In the Vaucluse watershed, there were numerous upwellings of deep water along major faults, located at the contact of the karstic aquifer and the overlying impervious covers. The mixing of deep and meteoric waters at shallow depths caused pyrite depositions in numerous caves, including Baume Galinière. Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis occurred later after base-level drop, when the cave was under shallow phreatic conditions then in the vadose zone, with oxidation of pyrites generating sulfuric acid. Attenuated oxidation is still occurring through condensation of moisture from incoming air. Baume Galinière Cave records the position of the semi-impervious paleo-cover and documents its retreat in relationship to valley incision caused by uplift and tilting of the Vaucluse block during the Neogene.


Sulphuric acid speleogenesis and landscape evolution: Montecchio cave, Albegna river valley (Southern Tuscany, Italy), 2015,
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Piccini Leonardo, De Waele Jo, Galli Ermanno, Polyak Victor J. , Bernasconi Stefano M. Asmerom Yemane

Montecchio cave (Grosseto province, Tuscany, Italy) opens at 320 m asl, in a small outcrop of Jurassic limestone (Calcare Massiccio Fm.), close to the Albegna river. This area is characterised by the presence of several thermal springs and the outcropping of travertine deposits at different altitudes. The Montecchio cave, with passage length development of over 1700 m, is characterised by the presence of several sub-horizontal passages and many medium- and small-scale morphologies indicative of sulphuric acid speleogenesis (SAS). The thermal aquifer is intercepted at a depth of about 100 m below the entrance: the water temperature exceeds 30 °C and sulphate content is over 1300 mg l−1. The cave hosts large gypsumdeposits from40 to 100mbelowthe entrance that are by-products of the reaction between sulphuric acid and the carbonate host rock. The lower part of the cave hosts over 1 m thick calcite cave raft deposits, which are evidence of long-standing, probably thermal, water in an evaporative environment related to significant air currents.

Sulphur isotopes of gypsum have negative δ34S values (from−28.3 to−24.2‰), typical of SAS. Calcite cave rafts and speleogenetic gypsumboth yield young U/Th ages varying from68.5 ka to 2 ka BP, indicating a rapid phase of dewatering followed by gypsum precipitation in aerate environment. This fastwater table lowering is related to a rapid incision of the nearby Albegna river, and was followed by a 20–30 m fluctuation of the thermal water table, as recorded in the calcite raft deposits and gypsum crusts.


Evidence of a plate-wide tectonic pressure pulse provided by extensometric monitoring in the Balkan Mountains (Bulgaria), 2015,
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Briestensky Milos, Rowberry Matt, Stemberk Josef, Stefanov Petar, Vozar Jozef, Sebela Stanka, Petro Lubomir, Bella Pavel, Gaal Ludovit, Ormukov Cholponbek,

The EU-TecNet monitoring network uses customised three-dimensional extensometers to record transient deformations across individual faults. This paper presents the first results from two newly established monitoring points in the Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria. The data from Saeva Dupka, recorded across an EEN-WWS striking fault, show sinistral strike-slip along the fault and subsidence of the southern block. Much of the subsidence occurred around the time of the distal MW = 5.6 Pernik Earthquake. An important transient deformation event, which began in autumn 2012, was reflected by significant compression and subsequent extension across the monitored fault. The data from Bacho Kiro, recorded across a NE-SW striking fault, show sinistral strike-slip along the fault and subsidence of the northwestern block. The same important deformation event was reflected by changes in the strike-slip, dip-slip, and horizontal opening/closing trends. These results have been compared to data from other monitoring points in the Western Carpathians, External Dinarides, and Tian Shan. Many of the sites evidence simultaneous displacement anomalies and this observation is interpreted to reflect the widespread propagation of a tectonic pressure pulse towards the end of 2012.


Sulfuric acid speleogenesis (SAS) close to the water table: Examples from southern France, Austria, and Sicily, 2015,
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Caves formed by rising sulfuric waters have been described from all over the world in a wide variety of climate  settings, from arid regions to mid-latitude and alpine areas. H2S is generally formed at depth by reduction of  sulfates in the presence of hydrocarbons and is transported in solution through the deep aquifers. In tectonically  disturbed areas major fractures eventually allow these H2S-bearing fluids to rise to the surface where oxidation  processes can become active producing sulfuric acid. This extremely strong acid reacts with the carbonate  bedrock creating caves, some of which are among the largest and most spectacular in the world. Production of  sulfuric acid mostly occurs at or close to the water table but also in subaerial conditions in moisture films and  droplets in the cave environment. These caves are generated at or immediately above the water table, where  condensation–corrosion processes are dominant, creating a set of characteristic meso- and micromorphologies.  Due to their close connection to the base level, these caves can also precisely record past hydrological and  geomorphological settings. Certain authigenic cave minerals, produced during the sulfuric acid speleogenesis  (SAS) phase, allow determination of the exact timing of speleogenesis. This paper deals with the morphological,  geochemical and mineralogical description of four very typical sulfuric acid water table caves in Europe: the  Grotte du Chat in the southern French Alps, the Acqua Fitusa Cave in Sicily (Italy), and the Bad Deutsch Altenburg  and Kraushöhle caves in Austria


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,
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Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2 soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic.

The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systemati­cally. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2 and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmo­spheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (mar­ginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the me­teoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns

can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convectionand condensation-corrosion.

Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,
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Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2 soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic.

The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systemati­cally. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2 and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmo­spheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (mar­ginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the me­teoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns

can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convectionand condensation-corrosion.

Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,
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Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2 soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic.

The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systemati­cally. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2 and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmo­spheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (mar­ginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the me­teoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns

can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convectionand condensation-corrosion.

Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.


Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeological conditions and resulting cave patterns, 2015,
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Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2 soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic.

The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systemati­cally. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2 and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmo­spheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (mar­ginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the me­teoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns

can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convectionand condensation-corrosion.

Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.


Chemistry and Karst, 2015,
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White, William B.

The processes of initiation and development of characteris­tic surface karst landforms and underground caves are nearly all chemical processes. This paper reviews the advances in understanding of karst chemistry over the past 60 years. The equilibrium chemistry of carbonate and sulfate dissolution and deposition is well established with accurate values for the necessary constants. The equations for bulk kinetics are known well enough for accurate modeling of speleogenetic processes but much is being learned about atomic scale mechanisms. The chemistry of karst waters, expressed as parameters such as total dissolved carbonates, saturation index, and equilibrium carbon dioxide pressure are useful tools for probing the internal char­acteristics of karst aquifers. Continuous records of chemical parameters (chemographs) taken from springs and other karst waters mapped onto discharge hydrographs reveal details of the internal flow system. The chemistry of speleothem deposi­tion is well understood at the level of bulk processes but much has been learned of the surface chemistry on an atomic scale by use of the atomic force microscope. Least well understood is the chemistry of hypogenetic karst. The main chemical reac­tions are known but equilibrium modeling could be improved and reaction kinetics are largely unknown.


Calculating flux to predict future cave radon concentrations, 2016,
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Rowberry Matt, Marti Xavi, Frontera Carlos, Van De Wiel Marco, Briestensky Milos

Cave radon concentration measurements reflect the outcome of a perpetual competition which pitches flux against ventilation and radioactive decay. The mass balance equations used to model changes in radon concentration through time routinely treat flux as a constant. This mathematical simplification is acceptable as a first order approximation despite the fact that it sidesteps an intrinsic geological problem: the majority of radon entering a cavity is exhaled as a result of advection along crustal discontinuities whose motions are inhomogeneous in both time and space. In this paper the dynamic nature of flux is investigated and the results are used to predict cave radon concentration for successive iterations. The first part of our numerical modelling procedure focuses on calculating cave air flow velocity while the second part isolates flux in a mass balance equation to simulate real time dependence among the variables. It is then possible to use this information to deliver an expression for computing cave radon concentration for successive iterations. The dynamic variables in the numerical model are represented by the outer temperature, the inner temperature, and the radon concentration while the static variables are represented by the radioactive decay constant and a range of parameters related to geometry of the cavity. Input data were recorded at Driny Cave in the Little Carpathians Mountains of western Slovakia. Here the cave passages have developed along splays of the NE-SW striking Smolenice Fault and a series of transverse faults striking NW-SE. Independent experimental observations of fault slip are provided by three permanently installed mechanical extensometers. Our numerical modelling has revealed four important flux anomalies between January 2010 and August 2011. Each of these flux anomalies was preceded by conspicuous fault slip anomalies. The mathematical procedure outlined in this paper will help to improve our understanding of radon migration along crustal discontinuities and its subsequent exhalation into the atmosphere. Furthermore, as it is possible to supply the model with continuous data, future research will focus on establishing a series of underground monitoring sites with the aim of generating the first real time global radon flux maps.


Karst environment, 2016,
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Culver D. C.

Karst environments can be grouped into three broad categories, based on their vertical position in the landscape. There are surface habitats, ones exposed to light; there are shallow subterranean (aphotic) habitats oft en with small to intermediate sized spaces; there are deep subterranean habitats (caves) with large sized spaces. Faunal records are most complete for caves, and on a global basis, more than 10,000 species are limited to this habitat. Hundreds of other species, especially bats, depend on caves for some part of their life cycle. A large, but most unknown number of species are limited to shallow subterranean habitats in karst, such as epikarst and the milieu souterrain superficiel. Species in both these categories of habitats typically show a number of morphological adaptations for life in darkness, including loss of eyes and pigment, and elaboration of extra-optic sensory structures. Surface habitats, such as sinkholes, karst springs, thin soils, and rock faces, are habitats, but not always recognized as karst habitats. Both aphotic karst habitats and twilight habitats (such as open air pits) may serve as important temporary refuges for organisms avoiding temperature extremes on the surface.


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