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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. ...

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. ...

Speleology in Kazakhstan

Shakalov on 11 Jul, 2012
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 bedding grike is term used to describe the occurrence of the dissolution and widening (similar to that which occurs in joints) of nearly vertical bedding in karst terranes [8]. synonym: (german.) schichtfugenkarren.?

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

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Featured articles from Cave & Karst Science Journals
Chemistry and Karst, White, William B.
Engineering challenges in Karst, Stevanović, Zoran; Milanović, Petar
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Geochemical and mineralogical fingerprints to distinguish the exploited ferruginous mineralisations of Grotta della Monaca (Calabria, Italy), Dimuccio, L.A.; Rodrigues, N.; Larocca, F.; Pratas, J.; Amado, A.M.; Batista de Carvalho, L.A.
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
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Your search for morphology (Keyword) returned 855 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 841 to 855 of 855
Uplifted flank margin caves in telogenetic limestones in the Gulf of Orosei (Central-East Sardinia—Italy) and their palaeogeographic significance, 2015, D'angeli Ilenia Maria, Sanna Laura, Clazoni Claudio, De Waele Jo

Thiswork reports the results of geomorphological observations carried out in the coastal Fico Cave and surrounding areas (Baunei, Central East Sardinia) in the Gulf of Orosei. A tidal notch, generally believed to be of Eemian (MIS 5e) age, is barely visible at 8.5 above present sea level (asl), some metres below the main entrance of the cave. Old cave passages, now partially opened by cliff retreat and parallel to the coastline, are clearly visible at around 14 m asl and correspond to the main level of Fico Cave. Two more notches are located higher, at 22 and 50 m asl. Fico Cave itself is composed of at least 6 clearly distinguished more or less horizontal levels (−10 m below present sea level (bsl), and +14, +22, +40, +50, and +63 m asl), independent of the stratal dip, arguing for a sea-level, and hence, fresh-water lens control. Cave passages develop along main fractures more or less parallel to the coastline and never extend landward for more than 150 m, mostly ending blindly, or diminishing in their dimensions progressively landward. Most passages only contain clay deposits, lacking fluvial or marine sediments or typical fluvial erosion morphologies (i.e. scallops).

It is suggested from this body of evidence that Fico Cave was formed in the coastal mixing zone along major discontinuities during several Quaternary interglacial periods, when sea level was high and relatively stable for enough time to develop large dissolutional voids. The geomorphological observations indicate the main +14 m asl level of the cave to have formed during MIS 9, and was heavily reworked during MIS 5, while the higher levels are relative to older interglacial highstands that occurred between 1 Ma and 325 ka. The small active branch developed below present sea level has formed during MIS 7 (225 ka). These observations shed new light on the position of the MIS 5e highstand markers in this area of the coast, much higher than previously thought.


Genesis of folia in a non-thermal epigenic cave (Matanzas, Cuba), 2015, D'angeli Ilenia Maria, De Waele Jo, Ceballo Melendres Osmany, Tisato Nicola, Sauro Francesco, Grau Gonzalez Esteban Ruben, Bernasconi Stefano, Torriani Stefano, Bontognali Tomaso Renzo Rezio

Folia are an unusual speleothem type resembling inverted cups or bracket fungi. Themechanismof folia formation is not fully understood and is the subject of an ongoing debate. This study focuses on an occurrence of folia present in Santa Catalina Cave, a non-thermal epigenic cave located close to Matanzas (Cuba). The sedimentology, morphology, petrology, permeability and geochemistry of these folia have been studied to gain new insight on the processes leading to their development. It is concluded that folia in Santa Catalina Cave formed at the top of a fluctuating water body, through CO2-degassing or evaporation, which may have been enhanced by the proximity to cave entrances. Two observations strongly support our conclusions. (1) When compared to other subaqueous speleothems (e.g. cave clouds) present in the same rooms, folia occur exclusively within a limited vertical interval that likely represents an ancient water level. Folia occur together with calcite rafts and tower cones that developed, respectively, on top of and below the water level. This suggests that a fluctuating interface is required for folia formation. (2) The measured permeability of the folia is too high to trap gas bubbles. Thus, in contrast to what has been proposed in other studies, trapped bubbles of CO2 cannot be invoked as the key factor determining the genesis and morphology of folia in this subaqueous environment.


The role of condensation in the evolution of dissolutional forms in gypsum caves: Study case in the karst of Sorbas (SE Spain), 2015, Gazquez Fernando, Calaforra José Maria, Forti Paolo, De Waele Jo, Sanna Laura

The karst of Sorbas (SE Spain) is one of the most important gypsum areas worldwide. Its underground karst network comprises over 100 km of cave passages. Rounded smooth forms, condensation cupola and pendant-like features appear on the ceiling of the shallower passages as a result of gypsum dissolution by condensation water. Meanwhile, gypsum speleothems formed by capillarity, evaporation and aerosol deposition such as coralloids, gypsum crusts and rims are frequently observed closer to the passage floors. The role of condensation–dissolution mechanisms in the evolution of geomorphological features observed in the upper cave levels has been studied by means of long-term micro-erosion meter (MEM) measurements, direct collection and analysis of condensation waters, and micrometeorological monitoring. Monitoring of erosion at different heights on gypsum walls of the Cueva del Agua reveals that the gypsum surface retreated up to 0.033 mm yr−1 in MEM stations located in the higher parts of the cave walls. The surface retreat was negligible at the lowest sites, suggesting higher dissolution rates close to the cave ceiling, where warmer and moister air flows. Monitoring of microclimatic parameters and direct measurements of condensation water were performed in the Covadura Cave system in order to estimate seasonal patterns of condensation. Direct measurements of condensation water dripping from a metal plate placed in the central part of the El Bosque Gallery of Covadura Cave indicate that condensation takes place mainly between July and November in coincidence with rainless periods. The estimated gypsum surface lowering due to this condensation water is 0.0026 mm yr−1. Microclimatic monitoring in the same area shows differences in air temperature and humidity of the lower parts of the galleries (colder and drier) with respect to the cave ceiling (warmer and wetter). This thermal sedimentation controls the intensity of the condensation–evaporation mechanisms at different heights in the cave.


Sulphuric acid speleogenesis and landscape evolution: Montecchio cave, Albegna river valley (Southern Tuscany, Italy), 2015, 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.


Long-term erosion rate measurements in gypsum caves of Sorbas (SE Spain) by the Micro-Erosion Meter method, 2015, Sanna Laura, De Waele Jo, Calaforra José Maria, Forti Paolo

The present work deals with the results of long-term micro-erosion measurements in the most important gypsum cave of Spain, the Cueva del Agua (Sorbas, Almeria, SE Spain). Nineteen MEM stations were positioned in 1992 in a wide range of morphological and environmental settings (gypsum floors and walls, carbonate speleothems, dry conduits and vadose passages) inside and outside the cave, on gypsum and carbonate bedrocks and exposed to variable degree of humidity, different air flowand hydrodynamic conditions. Four different sets of stations have been investigated: (1) the main cave entrance (Las Viñicas spring); (2) the main river passage; (3) the abandoned Laboratory tunnel; and (4) the external gypsum surface. Data over a period of about 18 years are available. The average lowering rates vary from 0.014 to 0.016 mm yr−1 near the main entrance and in the Laboratory tunnel, to 0.022 mm −1 on gypsum floors and 0.028 mm yr−1 on carbonate flowstones. 

The denudation data from the external gypsum stations are quite regular with a rate of 0.170 mm yr−1. The observations allowed the collecting of important information concerning the feeding of the karst aquifer not only by infiltrating rainwater, but under present climate conditions also by water condensation of moist air flow. This contribution to the overall karst processes in the Cueva del Agua basin represents over 20% of the total chemical dissolution of the karst area and more than 50% of the speleogenetically removed gypsum in the cave system, thus representing all but a secondary role in speleogenesis. Condensation–corrosion is most active along the medium walls, being slower at the roof and almost absent close to the floor. This creates typical corrosion morphologies such as cupola, while gypsum flowers develop where evaporation dominates. This approach also shows quantitatively the morphological implications of condensation–corrosion processes in gypsum karst systems in arid zones, responsible for an average surface lowering of 0.047 mm yr−1, while mechanical erosion produces a lowering of 0.123 mm yr−1.


Quaternary faulting in the Tatra Mountains, evidence from cave morphology and fault-slip analysis, 2015, Szczygieł Jacek

Tectonically deformed cave passages in the Tatra Mts (Central Western Carpathians) indicate some fault activity during the Quaternary. Displacements occur in the youngest passages of the caves indicating (based on previous U-series dating of speleothems) an Eemian or younger age for those faults, and so one tectonic stage. On the basis of stress analysis and geomorphological observations, two different mechanisms are proposed as responsible for the development of these displacements. The first mechanism concerns faults that are located above the valley bottom and at a short distance from the surface, with fault planes oriented sub-parallel to the slopes. The radial, horizontal extension and vertical σ1 which is identical with gravity, indicate that these faults are the result of gravity sliding probably caused by relaxation after incision of valleys, and not directly from tectonic activity. The second mechanism is tilting of the Tatra Mts. The faults operated under WNW-ESE oriented extension with σ1 plunging steeply toward the west. Such a stress field led to normal dip-slip or oblique-slip displacements. The faults are located under the valley bottom and/or opposite or oblique to the slopes. The process involved the pre-existing weakest planes in the rock complex: (i) in massive limestone mostly faults and fractures, (ii) in thin-bedded limestone mostly inter-bedding planes. Thin-bedded limestones dipping steeply to the south are of particular interest. Tilting toward the N caused the hanging walls to move under the massif and not toward the valley, proving that the cause of these movements was tectonic activity and not gravity.


Microbial mediation of complex subterranean mineral structures, 2015, 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

Helictites—an enigmatic type of mineral structure occurring in some caves—differ from classical speleothems as they develop with orientations that defy gravity. While theories for helictite formation have been forwarded, their genesis remains equivocal. Here, we show that a remarkable suite of helictites occurring in Asperge Cave (France) are formed by biologically-mediated processes, rather than abiotic processes as had hitherto been proposed. Morphological and petro-physical properties are inconsistent with mineral precipitation under purely physico-chemical control.

Instead, microanalysis and molecular-biological investigation reveals the presence of a prokaryotic biofilm intimately associated with the mineral structures. We propose that microbially-influenced mineralization proceeds within a gliding biofilm which serves as a nucleation site for CaCO3, and where chemotaxis influences the trajectory of mineral growth, determining the macroscopic morphology of the speleothems. The influence of biofilms may explain the occurrence of similar speleothems in other caves worldwide, and sheds light on novel biomineralization processes.


Hydrothermal speleogenesis in carbonates and metasomatic silicites induced by subvolcanic intrusions: a case study from the Štiavnické vrchy Mountains, Slovakia, 2015,

Several caves of hydrothermal origin in crystalline limestones and metasomatic silicites were investigated in the central zone of the Štiavnica stratovolcano, Štiavnické vrchy Mountains, central Slovakia. Evidence of hydrothermal origin includes irregular spherical cave morphology sculptured by ascending thermal water, occurrence of large calcite crystals and hydrothermal alteration of host rocks, including hydrothermal clays. The early phases of speleogenesis in the crystalline limestone near Sklené Teplice Spa were caused by post-magmatic dissolution linked either to the emplacement of subvolcanic granodiorite intrusions during Late Badenian time or to the spatially associated Late Sarmatian epithermal system. Speleogenesis in metasomatic silicites in the Šobov area is related to hydrothermal processes associated with the pre-caldera stage of the Štiavnica stratovolcano in Late Badenian. Both localities are remarkable examples of hydrothermal speleogenesis associated with Miocene volcanic and magmatic activity in the Western Carpathians


Hypogenic origin, geologic controls and functional organization of a giant cave system in Precambrian carbonates, Brazil, 2015,

This study is focused on speleogenesis of the Toca da Boa Vista (TBV) and Toca da Barriguda (TBR), the longest caves in South America occurring in the Neoproterozoic Salitre Formation in the São Francisco Craton, NE Brazil. We employ a multidisciplinary approach integrating detailed speleomorphogenetic, lithostratigraphic and geological structure studies in order to reveal the origin of the caves, their functional organization and geologic controls on their development. The caves developed in deep-seated confined conditions by rising flow. The overall fields of passages of TBV and TBR caves represent a speleogenetically exploited large NE–SW-trending fracture corridor associated with a major thrust. This corridor vertically extends across the Salitre Formation allowing the rise of deep fluids. In the overall ascending flow system, the formation of the cave pattern was controlled by a system of sub-parallel anticlines and troughs with NNE–SSWdominant orientation, and by vertical and lateral heterogeneities in fracture distribution. Three cave-stratigraphic stories reflect the actual hydrostratigraphy during the main phase of speleogenesis. Cavities at different stories are distinct inmorphology and functioning. The gross tree-dimensional pattern of the system is effectively organized to conduct rising flow in deep-seated confined conditions. Cavities in the lower story developed as recharge components to the system. A laterally extensive conduit network in the middle story formed because the vertical flow from numerous recharge points has been redirected laterally along the highly conductive unit, occurring below the major seal - a scarcely fractured unit. Rift-like and shaft-like conduits in the upper story developed along fracturecontrolled outflow paths, breaching the integrity of the major seal, and served as outlets for the cave system. The cave system represents a series of vertically organized, functionally largely independent clusters of cavities developed within individual ascending flow cells. Lateral integration of clusters occurred due to hydrodynamic interaction between the flow cells in course of speleogenetic evolution and change of boundary conditions. The main speleogenetic phase, during which the gross cave pattern has been established and the caves acquired most of their volume, was likely related to rise of deep fluids at about 520 Ma or associated with rifting and the Pangea break-up in Triassic–Cretaceous. This study highlights the importance of speleogenetic studies for interpreting porosity and permeability features in carbonate reservoirs.


Sulfuric acid speleogenesis (SAS) close to the water table: Examples from southern France, Austria, and Sicily, 2015,

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


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

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


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.


Sinkholes, collapse structures and large landslides in an active salt dome submerged by a reservoir: The unique case of the Ambal ridge in the Karun River, Zagros Mountains, Iran, 2015,

Ambal ridge, covering 4 km2, is a salt pillowof Gachsaran Formationwith significant salt exposures in direct contact  with the Karun River, Zagros Mountains. The highly cavernous salt dome is currently being flooded by the  Gotvand Reservoir, second largest in Iran. Geomorphic evidence, including the sharp deflection of the Karun  River and defeated streams indicate that Ambal is an active halokinetic structure, probably driven by erosional  unloading. Around 30% of the salt dome is affected by large landslides up to ca. 50 × 106 m3 in volume. Slope  oversteepening related to fluvial erosion and halokinetic rise seems to be the main controlling factor. A total of  693 sinkholes have been inventoried (170 sinkholes/km2), for which a scaling relationship has been produced.  The depressions occur preferentially along a belt with a high degree of clustering. This spatial distribution is  controlled by the proximity to the river, slope gradient and halite content in the bedrock. A large compound  depression whose bottom lies below the normal maximum level of the reservoir will likely be flooded by  water table rise forming a lake. The impoundment of the reservoir has induced peculiar collapse structures  220–280 m across, expressed by systems of arcuate fissures and scarps. Rapid subsurface salt dissolution is  expected to generate and reactivate a large number of sinkholes and may reactivate landslideswith a significant  vertical component due to lack of basal support.


Initial conditions or emergence: What determines dissolution patterns in rough fractures?, 2015,

Dissolution of fractured rocks is often accompanied by the formation of highly localized flow paths. While the fluid flow follows existing fractures in the rock, these fissures do not, in general, open uniformly. Simulations and laboratory experiments have shown that distinct channels or “wormholes”develop within the fracture, from which a single highly localized flow path eventually emerges. The aim of the present work is to investigate how these emerging flow paths are influenced by the initial aperture field. We have simulated the dissolution of a single fracture starting from a spatially correlated aperture distribution. Our results indicate a surprising insensitivity of the evolving dissolution patterns and flow rates to the amplitude and correlation length characterizing the imposed aperture field. We connect the similarity in outcomes to the self-organization of the flow into a small number of wormholes, with the spacing determined of the longest wormholes. We have also investigated the effect of a localized region of increased aperture on the developing dissolution patterns. A competition was observed between the tendency of the high-permeability region to develop the dominant wormhole and the tendency of wormholes to spontaneously nucleate throughout the rest of the fracture. We consider the consequences of these results for the modeling of dissolution in fractured and porous rocks.


Karst pocket valleys and their implications on Pliocene–Quaternary hydrology and climate: Examples from the Nullarbor Plain, southern Australia, 2015,

Karst on the Nullarbor Plain has been studied and described in detail in the past, but it lacked the determination of the karst discharge and palaeo-watertable levels that would explain the palaeohydrological regime in this area. This study explores the existence of previously unrecognised features in this area – karst pocket valleys – and gives a review on pocket valleys worldwide. Initial GIS analyses were followed up by detailed field work, sampling, mapping and measuring of morphological, geological, and hydrological characteristics of representative
valleys on the Wylie and Hampton scarps of the Nullarbor Plain. Rock and sand samples were examined for mineralogy, texture and grain size, and a U–Pb dating of a speleothem froma cave within a pocket valley enabled the establishment of a time frame of the pocket valleys formation and its palaeoenvironmental implications. The pocket valleys document the hydrological evolution of the Nullarbor karst system and the Neogene–Pleistocene palaeoclimatic evolution of the southern hemisphere. A review of pocket valleys in different climatic and geological settings suggests that their basic characteristics remain the same, and their often overlooked utility as environmental indicators can be used for further palaeoenvironmental studies. The main period of intensive karstification and widening of hydrologically active underground conduits is placed into the wetter climates of the Pliocene epoch. Subsequent drier climates and lowering of the watertable that followed sea-level retreat in the Quaternary resulted in formation of the pocket valleys (gravitational undermining, slumping, exudation and collapse), which, combined with periodic heavy rainfall events and discharge due to impeded drainage, caused the retreat of the pocket valleys from the edge of escarpments.


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