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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 pan coefficient is coefficient to correlate a high rate of evaporation in a pan to an evaporation rate from larger water bodies [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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Your search for analog (Keyword) returned 85 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 76 to 85 of 85
In defense of a fluctuating-interface, particle-accretion origin of folia, 2012, Davis Donald G.

Two recent papers have proposed radically different modes of origin for cave folia. Audra et al. (2009) propose subaqueous origin of carbonate folia via hypogenic CO2 bubble trapping, with concurrent condensation-corrosion and evaporative precipitation within individual folia gas pockets. Queen (2009) proposes that at least some folia are analogous to suboceanic tufa-tower “flanges” and may result from subaqueous freshwater mixing into a briny environment. The purpose of this paper is to show that neither of these mechanisms can be the fundamental process responsible for folia morphology in cave deposits, and that accretion from adherent particles at fluctuating interfaces is the only mechanism that has been shown to apply to folia of all compositions and in all cave environments where they are known to occur.


Very often, cave walls present forms that have their origin by turbulent flow of water: the scallops. They were object of many studies (in situ observations, analogous modelisation in rocks with high solubility, numerical modelisation...). Here we use an abandoned site (Voguë mill, left bank of Ardèche river), where stacked scallops were studied in detail. Formed during 432 years on a wall built with local limestone, we see three length classes that can be linked to three hydrogeologic situations. The discharge calculated on the base of the length and the form of the scallops was compared to a reference discharge of the Water Agency Rhône Méditerranée Corse. The comparisons show that the difference between field observation and haydrological data is not larger than 20 %. Thus the simple method of scallop studies is validated and shows that it is well adapted for calculating paleodischarges

Candidate Cave Entrances on Mars, 2012, Cushing, G. E.


This paper presents newly discovered candidate cave entrances into Martian near-surface lava tubes, volcano-tectonic fracture systems, and pit craters and describes their characteristics and exploration possibilities. These candidates are all collapse features that occur either intermittently along laterally continuous trench-like depressions or in the floors of sheer-walled atypical pit craters. As viewed from orbit, locations of most candidates are visibly consistent with known terrestrial features such as tube-fed lava flows, volcano-tectonic fractures, and pit craters, each of which forms by mechanisms that can produce caves. Although we cannot determine subsurface extents of the Martian features discussed here, some may continue unimpeded for many kilometers if terrestrial examples are indeed analogous. The features presented here were identified in images acquired by the Mars Odyssey’s Thermal Emission Imaging System visiblewavelength camera, and by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Context Camera. Select candidates have since been targeted by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment. Martian caves are promising potential sites for future human habitation and astrobiology investigations; understanding their characteristics is critical for long-term mission planning and for developing the necessary exploration technologies

Environmental Hydrogeological Study of Louros watershed, Epirus, Greece, 2012, Konstantina Katsanou

The present study aims to describe and characterize the Ionian zone karst formation concerning the karstification grade of carbonate formations and the development of aquifers, through the hydrogeological study of Louros River drainage basin, considering hydrological, hydrogeological and meteorological data, as well as major, trace element, rare earth element and isotope concentrations. It also aims to investigate basic karst properties such as storativity, homogeneity, infiltration coefficients and the parameters of the Louros basin hydrological balance.

To accomplish this aim daily discharge measurements obtained from Public Power Corporation at the Pantanassa station during the years 1956-1957, along with random discharge measurements from 15 springs along the basin performed by IGME between the years 1979-1989, daily meteorological data from 18 stations and 18 sets of potentiometric surface measurements from 38 sites were compiled. Additionally, chemical analyses on major and trace element concentrations of 42 rock samples and of five sets of water samples from 64 sampling sites, along with fourteen sets of successive periods in order to study the seasonal variation in the chemical composition of 11 springs and REE concentrations of 116 water samples. Moreover isotope ratios from 129 rain samples collected at five different altitudes, 331 samples of surface and groundwater samples, radon measurements on 21 groundwater samples and microbiological on 46 samples of surface and groundwater were evaluated. Daily runoff and random spring discharge missing data were completed applying the SAC-SMA and MODKARST simulation algorithms and the values of these parameters for the duration of the research (2008-2010) were predicted. The accuracy of the predicted values was tested applying statistical methods but also against observed values from in situ measurements performed during the same period (2008-2010).

Louros River drainage basin is located at the southern part of Epirus and covers an area of 953 km2. It is elongated and together with the adjacent basin of River Arachthos they constitute the major hydrographic systems discharging in the Amvrakikos Gulf. The main morphological features of the basin are elongated mountain ranges and narrow valleys, which are the result of tectonic and other geological processes mainly controlled by the limestone-“flysch” alternations. The length of the river’s major channel, which is parallel to the major folding direction (NNW-SSE), is 73.5 km. The mountainous part of the hydrogeological basin covers an area of 400 km2 and its endpoint was set at the Pantanassa station, where discharge measurements are performed. The underground limits of the basin coincides with the surface one, defined by the flysch outcrops at the western margin of the Ziros-Zalongo fault zone to the South, the application of isotope determinations and hydraulic load distribution maps at the North and East.

Geologically, Louros River drainage basin is composed of the Ionian zone formations. Triassic evaporites constitute the base of the zone overlain by a thick sequence of carbonate and clastic sedimentary rocks deposited from the Late Triassic to the Upper Eocene. In more detail, from base to top, the lithostratigraphical column of the zone includes dolomite and dolomitic limestone, Pantokrator limestone, Ammonitico Rosso, Posidonia Shales, Vigla limestone, Upper Senonian limestone, Palaeocene-Eocene limestone and Oligocene “flysch”. The major tectonic features of the regions are folds with their axes trending SW-NE at the northern part and NNW-SSE to NNE-SSW southern of the Mousiotitsa-Episkopiko-Petrovouni fault system and the strike-slip fault systems of Ziros and Petousi.

The evaluation of the daily meteorological data revealed that December is the most humid month of the year followed by January, whereas July and August are the driest months. Approximately 40-45% of the annual precipitation is distributed during the winter time and 30% during autumn. The mean annual precipitation ranges from 897.4 to 2051.8 mm and the precipitation altitude relationship suggests an increased precipitation with altitude at a rate of 84 mm/100 m. The maximum temperature is recorded during August and it may reach 40°C and the minimum during January. The temperature variation with the altitude is calculated at 0.61°C/100 m. The maximum solarity time is 377.8 h, recorded during July at the Arta station. December displays the highest relative humidity with a value of 84.2% recorded again at the Arta station. The highest wind velocity values are recorded at the Preveza station and similar velocities are also recorded at the Ioannina station. The real evapotranspiration in Louros drainage basin ranges between 27-39%. The potential evapotranspiration was calculated from the Ioannina station meteorological data, which are considered more representative for Louros basin, at 785.8 mm of precipitation according to Thornthwaite and at 722.0 mm according to Penman-Monteith.

According to the SAC-SMA algorithm the total discharge (surficial and underground) for the years 2008-2010 ranges between 61-73% of the total precipitation. The algorithm simulates the vertical percolation of rainwater in both unsaturated and saturated zones taking into account 15 parameters including the tension water capacity of the unsaturated zone, the maximum water storage capacity of both unsaturated and saturated zones, the water amount escaping into deeper horizons and not recorded at the basin’s outlet, the percentage of impermeable ground which is responsible for instant runoff, etc. These parameters are correlated to the hydrograph and are recalculated according to it. Two interesting aspects were pointed out from the discharge measurements and the algorithm application. The first is related to the maximum amount of free water, which can be stored at the basic flow of the karstic system, which is very high for the whole basin, reaching 1200 mm of precipitation and the second is the amount of water filtered to the deeper horizons, which reaches 0.098.

The discharge of individual karstic units was simulated applying the specialized MODKARST code. The code, which transforms precipitation to discharge resolving mathematical equations of non-linear flow using the mass and energy balance, successfully completed the time series of available data of spring discharge measurements for the period between the years 2008-2010.

Additionally, a number of useful parameters including spring recharge, delay period between precipitation and discharge, the storage capacity of the discharge area were also calculated by the MODKARST code. These data enabled the calculation of the annual infiltration coefficient for each one of the 15 springs and for the whole basin; the latter was found to range between 38-50% of annual precipitation. The total supply area was estimated approximately at 395 km2, which is consistent with the area of Louros hydrogeological basin calculated from hydrogeological data.

The 18 sets of water table measurements, each one corresponding to a different period, revealed that the aquifers of the intermediate part of Louros basin, which are developed in Quaternary alluvial sediments, are laterally connected to the carbonate formations of the individual karstic spring units, forming a common aquifer with a common water table.

Groundwater flow follows a general N-S direction from the topographic highs to the coastal area with local minor shifts to NE-SW and NW-SE directions. The artificial lake at the position of the Public Power Corporation’s Dam at the south of the region is directly connected to the aquifer and plays an important role in water-level variation. The water table contours display a higher gradient to the southern part due to the decreased hydraulic conductivity of the limestones close to Agios Georgios village. The decreased hydraulic conductivity is believed to be the reason for the development of the homonymous spring although the hydraulic load distributions suggest the extension of the aquifer to the south and a relation to the water level in Ziros Lake, boreholes and the Priala springs. The hydraulic gradient in the broader region ranges between 4-16‰. The absolute water level variation between dry and humid season ranges from 2 m at the South to 15-20 m to the North with an average of 9 m.

The hydrological balance of Louros River mountainous basin according to the aforementioned data is calculated as follows: The total precipitation between the years 2008-2010 ranged between 5.67E+08-9.8E+08 m3 and the discharge at Pantanassa site between 3.47E+08-6.83E+08 m3. The real evapotransiration ranged between 29-39% of the precipitation. The total discharge (runoff and groundwater) accounted for 61-73% of the precipitation, whereas the basic flow due to the percolation ranged between 34-38%. Considering a mean water level variation of 9 m, between the dry and humid season, the water amount constituting the local storage is 2025Ε+07 m3.

Statistical evaluation on spring discharge data and the recession curves analysis revealed three distinct levels with diverse karstic weathering along Louros basin coinciding to the upper, intermediate and low flow of Louros River, respectively. The developed karstic units are generally complex but simple individual units develop as well. The response of spring discharge to the stored water amounts is immediate but with relatively large duration suggesting the storage of large quantities of water and a well-developed system of karstic conduits, which however has not yet met its complete evolution. The karst spring’s units are homogeneous and each one is distinguished from different recession coefficients.

The three levels of flow are also distinguished from the duration curves, which point to individual units upstream, complex units receiving and transmitting water to the adjacent ones in the middle part and complex that only receive water from the upper. This distinguishment is also enhanced by the groundwater’s major ion concentrations, which reveal Ca-HCO3 water-type upstream, along with the isotopic composition at the same part. The prevalent Ca-HCO3-Cl-SO4 water-type in the middle part, the Na-Ca-Cl-SO4 water-type downstream and isotope variation confirms this distinguishment. Moreover, REE variation is also consistent with the three levels. The assumption of relatively large stored water reserves, which contribute to analogous “memory” of spring karstic units, as pointed out by autocorreletion functions is enhanced from SAC-SMA algorithm which premises an increased capacity at the lower zone of basic flow, as well as from the hydrochemical and isotopic composition of groundwater. Monitoring of the seasonal variation in groundwater composition revealed minor variations of hydrochemical parameters and remarkably stable isotopic composition. Both aspects can be explained by the existence of a considerable water body acting as a retarder to external changes.

The crosscorrelation functions suggest a well-developed karstic system, which however has not yet reached its complete maturity also confirmed from field observations. The same conclusion is extracted from the homogeneous evolution at the interval of each karstic unit as demonstrated from recession curves on spring hydrographs.

The results from hydrochemical analyses also revealed the effect of evaporitic minerals and phosphate-rich rocks in groundwater composition and confirmed the hydraulic relationships between surface and groundwater.

The study of the isotopic composition also contributed to exclude the potential connection between the Ioannina and Louros basins, confirmed the meteoric origin of groundwater and revealed the effect of seawater in the chemical composition of few sampling sites.

The microbiological research only revealed minor incidents of contamination and significant attenuation of microorganisms during periods of high discharge.

The view of Maya cave ritual from the Overlook Rockshelter, Caves Branch River Valley, Central Belize, 2013, Wrobel G. D. , Shelton R. , Morton S. , Lynch J. , Andres C.

Archaeological investigations of the Overlook Rockshelter in the Caves Branch River Valley of central Belize offer a unique view of ancient Maya cave ritual through the complete recovery and analysis of all artifacts within the site’s two small activity areas. In general, the assemblage contains many of the same types of objects documented from other nearby caves and rockshelters. However, the nearly 1700 ceramics sherds showed almost no refits, demonstrating that sherds were deposited at the site individually, rather than as complete vessels. The human bone assemblage represents three or four individuals, with the majority of the bones comprising a single individual, and all of these were deposited as incomplete secondary interments. Analogies for this depositional behavior based on archaeological and ethnographic studies suggest that this rockshelter may represent a waypoint within a ritual circuit composed of multiple locations over which fragments of complete items such as ceramic vessels and secondary burials were spread.  


PERMIAN HYDROTHERMAL KARST IN KRAKÓW REGION (SOUTHERN POLAND) AND ITS PECULIAR INTERNAL SEDIMENTS, 2014, Gradziński M. , Lewandowska A. , Paszkowski M. , Duliński M. , Nawrocki J. , Żywiecki M.

The development of caves influenced by the deep circulation of water has received increasing interest for the last thirty years. Presently, hypogene caves have been recognized all around the world. Conversely, the ancient examples filled with sediments and representing palaeokarst forms are not so common.
The karst forms and their sediment fillings were encountered in the Dębnik Anticline (Kraków region, Southern Poland) composed of Middle Devonian to Mississippian carbonates. The development of karst slightly postdates the Permian (ca. 300 Ma) volcanic activity in the Kraków region. In this region major transcontinental strike and slip Hamburg-Kraków-Dobruja fault zone induced a series of minor, en echelon, extensional faults, which served as magma passages and guided karst conduits.
The karst forms in the Dębnik Anticline reach several to tens of meters in size. They are filled with: i) massive, subaqueous, coarse crystalline calcite spar; ii) crystalloclastic, bedded limestones; iii) jasper lenses; iv) kaolinitised tuffs. The sediments are characterized by red colouration caused by iron compounds.
Coarse crystalline calcite spar composes beds up to several dozen centimeters in thickness. They are laminated and comprise frutexites type structures. The calcites are interbedded with pinkish-red crystalloclastic limestones, which are built of detritic calcite crystals from silt size to a few millimeters across. Some of the crystals are of skeletal type. Crystalloclastic limestones are normally graded. Both calcite spar and crystalloclastic limestones underwent synsedimentary deformations, which resulted in brecciation and plastic deformations.
The above deposits fill karst forms up to a few metres in lateral extent. However, analogously filled enormously huge (up to around 100 m across) forms were recognized in the early 80s of the last century. Presently, they are completely exploited.
The karst forms were fragments of extensive circulation system. It was fed by waters of elevated temperature, rich in endogenic CO2, which is proved by fluid inclusion analysis and stable isotope investigation. The origin of this system was associated with volcanic activity. The roots of the system are represented by fissures filled with coarse crystalline, red and white calcites of onyx type, which are common in the Dębnik Anticline. Water issuing from this system on the surface caused precipitation of red travertines. These travertines are preserved only as clasts in the Lower Permian conglomerates deposited in the local tectonic depressions.
The study was financed by Ministry of Science and Higher Education project N307 022 31/1746.


The development of porosity in carbonate platforms takes many forms. Dissolution porosity as a result of karst processes is unique as it produces organized porosity and permeability over a variety of scales, and can do so in very short periods of time, geologically speaking. Karst developed in the Miocene formations of the Mallorca Island exhibits a complexity that seems to be very similar to the Kashagan or Aktote (Kazakhstan) or Kharyaga (CIS) karst reservoirs architecture characterized by different phases of island karst (mixing water) type with caves of different sizes and sponge karst, reworked and partly filled by paleosoils related to plateau karst developed during major sea level drops and finally hydro- (geo)-thermal processes. The Miocene rocks of the Llucmajor platform in the southwest of Mallorca island exhibit the three main types of karst developments that occurred through time, linked or not to glacio-eustatic changes: -1 Island karst (the flank-margin model); -2 Meteoric karst; -3 Hydrothermal karst/ These developments allow defining the so-called Complex Karst. Each of the terms is identified by specific overprints found in drilled wells (logs and cores) or on outcrops. The outcrops and subcrops of Mallorca Island represent an excellent analogue for understanding the complexity of the past carbonate platforms which are hydrocarbon targets for the industry

Sinkholes, pit craters, and small calderas: Analog models of depletion-induced collapse analyzed by computed X-ray microtomography, 2014,

Volumetric depletion of a subsurface body commonly results in the collapse of overburden and the formation of enclosed topographic depressions. Such depressions are termed sinkholes in karst terrains and pit craters or collapse calderas in volcanic terrains. This paper reports the first use of computed X-ray microtomography (?CT) to image analog models of small-scale (~< 2 km diameter), high-cohesion, overburden collapse induced by depletion of a near-cylindrical (“stock-like”) body. Time-lapse radiography enabled quantitative monitoring of the evolution of collapse structure, velocity, and volume. Moreover, ?CT scanning enabled non-destructive visualization of the final collapse volumes and fault geometries in three dimensions. The results illustrate two end-member scenarios: (1) near-continuous collapse into the depleting body; and (2) near-instantaneous collapse into a subsurface cavity formed above the depleting body. Even within near-continuously collapsing columns, subsidence rates vary spatially and temporally, with incremental accelerations. The highest subsidence rates occur before and immediately after a surface depression is formed. In both scenarios, the collapsing overburden column undergoes a marked volumetric expansion, such that the volume of subsurface depletion substantially exceeds that of the resulting topographic depression. In the karst context, this effect is termed “bulking”, and our results indicate that it may occur not only at the onset of collapse but also during progressive subsidence. In the volcanic context, bulking of magma reservoir overburden rock may at least partially explain why the volume of magma erupted commonly exceeds that of the surface depression.

Evaluation of the US DOE’s conceptual model of hydrothermal activity at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, 2014,

A unique conceptual model describing the conductive heating of rocks in the thick unsaturated zone of Yucca Mountain, Nevada by a silicic pluton emplaced several kilometers away is accepted by the US Department of Energy (DOE) as an explanation of the elevated depositional temperatures measured in fluid inclusions in secondary fluorite and calcite. Acceptance of this model allowed the DOE to keep from considering hydrothermal activity in the performance assessment of the proposed high-level nuclear waste disposal facility. The evaluation presented in this paper shows that no computational modeling results have yet produced a satisfactory match with the empirical benchmark data, specifically with age and fluid inclusion data that indicate high temperatures (up to ca. 80 _C) in the unsaturated zone of Yucca Mountain. Auxiliary sub-models complementing the DOE model, as well as observations at a natural analog site, have also been evaluated. Summarily, the model cannot be considered as validated. Due to the lack of validation, the reliance on this model must be discontinued and the appropriateness of decisions which rely on this model must be re-evaluated.A unique conceptual model describing the conductive heating of rocks in the thick unsaturated zone of Yucca Mountain, Nevada by a silicic pluton emplaced several kilometers away is accepted by the US Department of Energy (DOE) as an explanation of the elevated depositional temperatures measured in fluid inclusions in secondary fluorite and calcite. Acceptance of this model allowed the DOE to keep from considering hydrothermal activity in the performance assessment of the proposed high-level nuclear waste disposal facility. The evaluation presented in this paper shows that no computational modeling results have yet produced a satisfactory match with the empirical benchmark data, specifically with age and fluid inclusion data that indicate high temperatures (up to ca. 80 _C) in the unsaturated zone of Yucca Mountain. Auxiliary sub-models complementing the DOE model, as well as observations at a natural analog site, have also been evaluated. Summarily, the model cannot be considered as validated. Due to the lack of validation, the reliance on this model must be discontinued and the appropriateness of decisions which rely on this model must be re-evaluated.

International Conference on Groundwater in Karst, Programme and Abstracts, 2015, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, 2015,

Carbonate rocks present a particular challenge to hydrogeologists as the major groundwater flux is through an integrated network of dissolutionally enlarged channels that discharge via discrete springs. The channels span a very wide aperture range: the smallest are little more than micro-fractures or pathways through the rock matrix but at the other end of the spectrum (and commonly in the same rock mass) channels may grow to dimensions where they can be explored by humans and are called caves. Groundwater transmission through the smaller channels that are commonly intersected by boreholes is very slow and has often been analysed using equivalent porous media models although the limitations of such models are increasingly recognised. At the other end of the spectrum (and commonly in the same rock mass) flow through the larger conduits is analogous to ‘a surface stream with a roof’ and may be amenable to analysis by models devised for urban pipe networks. Regrettably, hydrogeologists have too often focussed on the extreme ends of the spectrum, with those carbonates possessing large and spectacular landforms regarded as “karst” whereas carbonates with little surface expression commonly, but incorrectly labelled as “non-karstic”. This can lead to failures in resource management. Britain is remarkable for the variety of carbonate rocks that crop out in a small geographical area. They range in age and type from Quaternary freshwater carbonates, through Cenozoic, Mesozoic and Paleozoic limestones and dolostones, to Proterozoic metacarbonates. All near surface British carbonates are soluble and groundwater is commonly discharged from them at springs fed by dissolutionally enlarged conduits, thereby meeting one internationally accepted definition of karst. Hence, it is very appropriate that Britain, and Birmingham as Britain's second largest city, hosts this International Conference on Groundwater in Karst. The meeting will consider the full range of carbonate groundwater systems and will also have an interdisciplinary approach to understanding karst in its fullest sense.

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