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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 cave popcorn is see cave coral.?

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.
See all featured articles
Featured articles from other Geoscience Journals
Karst environment, Culver D.C.
Mushroom Speleothems: Stromatolites That Formed in the Absence of Phototrophs, Bontognali, Tomaso R.R.; D’Angeli Ilenia M.; Tisato, Nicola; Vasconcelos, Crisogono; Bernasconi, Stefano M.; Gonzales, Esteban R. G.; De Waele, Jo
Calculating flux to predict future cave radon concentrations, Rowberry, Matt; Marti, Xavi; Frontera, Carlos; Van De Wiel, Marco; Briestensky, Milos
Microbial mediation of complex subterranean mineral structures, Tirato, Nicola; Torriano, Stefano F.F;, Monteux, Sylvain; Sauro, Francesco; De Waele, Jo; Lavagna, Maria Luisa; D’Angeli, Ilenia Maria; Chailloux, Daniel; Renda, Michel; Eglinton, Timothy I.; Bontognali, Tomaso Renzo Rezio
Evidence of a plate-wide tectonic pressure pulse provided by extensometric monitoring in the Balkan Mountains (Bulgaria), Briestensky, Milos; Rowberry, Matt; Stemberk, Josef; Stefanov, Petar; Vozar, Jozef; Sebela, Stanka; Petro, Lubomir; Bella, Pavel; Gaal, Ludovit; Ormukov, Cholponbek;
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Your search for diameter (Keyword) returned 115 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 91 to 105 of 115
Evolution of solution dolines inferred from cosmogenic 36Cl in calcite, 2010,
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Matsushi Y. , Hattanji T. , Akiyama S. , Sasa K. , Takahashi T. , Sueki K. , Matsukura Y.

Quantifi cation of the development of solution dolines provides important information for  understanding the long-term evolution of karst landscapes. This study reports the initial  results of an investigation of the long-term denudation rates along the side slopes of a solution  doline based on analyses of cosmogenic 36Cl in calcite. The denudation rates increase in  proportion with increasing size of the topographic contributing area, thereby supporting the  hypothesis that the rate of surface lowering in carbonate terrains is controlled by water convergence  in the epikarst. A simple model based on the empirical correlation between denudation  rate and contributing area is successful in explaining the form of several solution dolines  located close to the analyzed doline. The model reveals that these solution dolines, which have  varying diameters, developed over similar time scales of the order of 105 yr.


Isotopic indications of water-rock interaction in the hypogene Tavrskaya cave, Crimea, Ukraine, 2011,
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Dublyansky Yuri, Klimchouk Alexander, Timokhina Elisaveta, Spö, Tl Christoph

The Inner Range of the Crimea Mountains has recently been identified as an area of previously unrecognized hypogene speleogenesis (Klimchouk et al. 2009). The entrance of the Tavrskaya cave is located in the middle of the 25 m-high scarp of the cuesta built up of Paleocene limestone. The cave comprises two parallel major passages (ca. 180 m long, up to 7-8 m high and up to 5-6 m wide) connected by a smaller passage. The major passages are slightly inclined toward the north-west following the dip of bedding. The morphology of the cave bears strong indications of dissolution at conditions of ascending flow in a confined aquifer setting.
A massive calcite crust, studied in this paper, was first found in a small cave located ca. 200 m from Tavrskaya cave along the cuesta scarp. According to its position and morphology, the cave corresponds to the rift-like “feeder” zone of Tavrskaya cave. Recently, similar calcite crust was found in Tavrskaya cave, in a rift-like passage of the  near-scarp zone. The crust is built up of a brownish translucent calcite whose columnar crystals (bounded by competitive growth surfaces) are arranged in a characteristic radiating pattern. Calcite contains only all-liquid inclusions indicating deposition at less than ca. 50ºC. It also contains filamentous biological material (possibly fungi or cyanobacteria), which sometimes facilitated entrapment of fluid inclusions. This calcite body is tentatively
interpreted as a paleo-spring deposit (ascending flow). In order to characterize the isotopic properties of this calcite and the bedrock limestone we drilled small-diameter cores through the calcite formation, as well as through the wall of a cavity devoid of calcite. Stable isotope analyses were performed along these cores. To provide a basis for comparison several samples from the same lithostratigraphic units were collected far from the cave. Along a 15 cm-long profile, both oxygen and carbon isotopes of the limestone remain stable at 18O = -4.3 0.2
h and 13C = -1.7 0.3 h (1). Only within the 1.5 cm-thick zone immediately underlying the calcite 18O and 13C values plunge to ca. -8 h and -9 h respectively,. It appears from this data that water rock-interaction associated with the deposition of this calcite produced only a thin alteration halo in the limestone. However, when data from the cave-wall cores are compared with those collected far from the cave, it appears that the “constant” values from cave walls are shifted relative to the presumably unaltered limestone values toward lower values by
ca. 1.5-3.0 h (oxygen) and 3-4 h (carbon). On the 18O-13C cross-plot the data for unaltered limestone, cave wall limestone, alteration halo, and secondary calcite plot along a well-defined line (R2=0.99).
We propose that the Paleocene limestone in the vicinity of the Tavrskaya cave has experienced a two-stage alteration. During the first stage, presumably associated with the process of cave excavation, the bedrock has been altered (18O depleted by 1.5 to 3.0 h and 13C by 3 to 4 %). The thickness of this zone of early alteration is unknown but must be larger than 15 cm (length of our cores). The second stage of alteration was associated with the deposition of calcite; during this stage the isotopic composition was further depleted (by 4-5 h in 18O and 8-10 h in 13C). The extent of alteration was much smaller, though, and restricted to zones where calcite was deposited (ca. 15 mm beneath the calcite).


Bell Hole Origin: Constraints on Developmental Mechanisms, Crooked Island, Bahamas, 2011,
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Birmingham Andrew N. , Mylroie Joan R. , Mylroie John E. , Lace Michael J.

Bell holes are vertical, cylindrical voids, higher than they are wide, with circular cross sections and smooth walls found in the ceilings of dissolutional caves primarily from tropical and subtropical settings. They range in size from centimeter to meters in height and width. The origin of bell holes has been controversial, with two proposed categories: vadose mechanisms including bat activity, condensation corrosion, and vadose percolation; and phreatic mechanisms including degassing and density convection.
Crooked Island, Bahamas has a number of caves with bell holes of unusual morphology (up to 7 m high and 1.5 m in diameter), commonly in tight clusters, requiring significant bedrock removal in a small area. In many cases, numerous bell holes are open to the surface, which requires that up to a meter or more of surface denudation has occurred since the bell hole first formed.
Surface intersection has little impact on the phreatic mechanisms, which were time limited to cave genesis from 119 to 131 ka ago, but greatly reduces the time window for later vadose mechanisms, which need to have been completed before bell hole intersection by surface denudation.
The Crooked Island observations suggest that bell hole development occurred syngenetically with flank margin cave development under phreatic conditions. Because flank margin caves develop under slow flow conditions, vertical convection cell processes are not disrupted by turbulent lateral flow and bell holes formed as a vertical phreatic dissolution signature.


A dye-tracing investigation in the Poshte-Naz Karstic aquifer, Alburz Mountain, northern Iran, 2011,
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Kalantari N. , Mohammadi R.

The tracing technique has been recently used in karstified Zagros structural belt in northern Iran. A tracer study (uranine injection) was conducted in Jurassic limestone of the Poshte-Naz area in the Alborz belt to evaluate aquifer parameters and hydraulic relations between a large (about 100 m in diameter) sinkhole and springs. A main goal of the project was to find out the source of turbidity of the Emarate drinking water supply spring (SP4) in rainy seasons. Eight springs, three wells and the Neka River were selected for monitoring and totally 989 samples in 107 days were collected. In order to select reliable sampling stations, hydrochemical analysis of major ions was carried out and for better interpretation of concentration-time curve, spring discharge was also measured. The results of the tracing by sampling water indicated only a hydraulic connection between the injection point and the Sange-Nou spring (SP8) and, whereas the charcoal bags analysis revealed tracer exits also from spring SP1, SP3, SP4, SP5, SP8, in wells W1 and W2, and in the Neka River. This paper discuses concentration/time curves from charcoal bags for qualitative analysis and tracer exit curves for quantitative analysis.


New peculiar cave ceiling forms from Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico, USA): The zenithal ceiling tube-holes, 2011,
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Calaforra Josemaria, De Waele Jo

During a trip to the Hall of the White Giant, Carlsbad Caverns (NM, USA) cigar-shaped vertically upward developing holes were observed on the ceiling at different heights of the passages. They have a circular cross-section with diameters of 1 to some centimetres and taper out towards their upper end. Their walls are smooth and their bottom edges are sharp, while their length can reach several decimetres. Sometimes gypsum can be found inside. They often occur randomly distributed in groups and their development is not necessarily controlled by fractures or other bedrock structures.

We name these peculiar karren-like cave microforms “zenithal ceiling tube-holes” because of their origin by H2S environment corrosion processes and their vertical (zenithal) upward growth in ceilings. A comparison is made between zenithal ceiling tube-holes and other karstic or non karstic similar forms such as bell holes, oxidation vents, snailholes, Korrosionskolke (mixture-solution hollows) or pockets, röhrenkarren, light-oriented photokarren, borings of (often marine) organisms and negative stalactites.

Zenithal ceiling tube-holes are created by the corrosive effect of sulphuric acid. H2S(g) dissolves in water giving rise to widespread sulphuric acid corrosion. When H2S bubbles are trapped underneath overhanging surfaces or ceilings and water level rises steadily the corrosive effect is concentrated vertically upwards, drilling vertical holes that can also completely pass overhanging rock ledges.


Improving sinkhole hazard models incorporating magnitudefrequency relationships and nearest neighbor analysis, 2011,
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Galve Jorge P. , Remondo Juan, Gutié, Rrez Francisco

This work presents a methodology for elaborating sinkhole hazard models that incorporate the magnitude and frequency relationships of the subsidence process. The proposed approach has been tested in a sector of the Ebro valley mantled evaporite karst, where sinkholes, largely induced by irrigation practices, have a very high occurrence rate (>50 sinkholes/km2/yr). In this area, covering 10 km2, a total of 943 new cover collapse sinkholes were inventoried in 2005 and 2006. Multiple susceptibility models have been generated analyzing the statistical relationships between the 2005 sinkholes and different sets of variables, including the nearest sinkhole distance. The quantitative evaluation of the prediction capability of these models using the 2006 sinkhole population has allowed the identification of the method and variables that produce the most reliable predictions. The incorporation of the indirect variable nearest sinkhole distance has contributed significantly to increase the quality of the models, despite simplifying the modeling process by using categorical rather than continuous variables. The best susceptibility model, generated with the total sinkhole population and the selected method and variables, has been transformed into a hazard model that provides minimum estimates of the spatial–temporal probability of each pixel to be affected by sinkholes of different diameter ranges. This transformation has been carried out combining two equations derived from the more complete 2006 sinkhole population; one of them expressing the expected spatial–temporal probability of sinkhole occurrence and the other the empirical magnitude and frequency relationships generated for two different types of land surfaces, which control the strength of the surface layer and the size of the sinkholes. The presented method could be applied to predict the spatial–temporal probability of events with different magnitudes related to other geomorphic processes (e.g. landslides).


The significance of turbulent flow representation in single-continuum models, 2011,
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Reimann T. , Rehrl C. , Shoemaker W. B. , Geyer T. , Birk S.

Karst aquifers evolve where the dissolution of soluble rocks causes the enlargement of discrete pathways along fractures or bedding planes, thus creating highly conductive solution conduits. To identify general interrelations between hydrogeological conditions and the properties of the evolving conduit systems the aperture-size frequency distributions resulting from generic models of conduit evolution are analysed. For this purpose, a process-based numerical model coupling flow and rock dissolution is employed. Initial protoconduits are represented by tubes with log-normally distributed aperture sizes with a mean ?0 = 0.5 mm for the logarithm of the diameters. Apertures are spatially uncorrelated and widen up to the metre range due to dissolution by chemically aggressive waters. Several examples of conduit development are examined focussing on influences of the initial heterogeneity and the available amount of recharge. If the available recharge is sufficiently high the evolving conduits compete for flow and those with large apertures and high hydraulic gradients attract more and more water. As a consequence, the positive feedback between increasing flow and dissolution causes the breakthrough of a conduit pathway connecting the recharge and discharge sides of the modelling domain. Under these competitive flow conditions dynamically stable bimodal aperture distributions are found to evolve, i.e. a certain percentage of tubes continues to be enlarged while the remaining tubes stay small-sized. The percentage of strongly widened tubes is found to be independent of the breakthrough time and decreases with increasing heterogeneity of the initial apertures and decreasing amount of available water. If the competition for flow is suppressed because the availability of water is strongly limited breakthrough of a conduit pathway is inhibited and the conduit pathways widen very slowly. The resulting aperture distributions are found to be unimodal covering some orders of magnitudes in size. Under these suppressed flow conditions the entire range of apertures continues to be enlarged. Hence, the number of tubes reaching aperture sizes in the order of centimetres or decimetres continues to increase with time and in the long term may exceed the number of large-sized tubes evolving under competitive flow conditions. This suggests that conduit development under suppressed flow conditions may significantly enhance the permeability of the formation, e.g. in deep-seated carbonate settings.


Giant pockmarks in a carbonate platform (Maldives, Indian Ocean), 2011,
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Betzler C. , Lindhorst S. , Hubscher C. , Ludmann T. , Furstenau J. , Reijmer J.

Circular structures and depressions in carbonate platforms are known to represent karst chimneys or sinkholes which form as a response to rock solution. This formation mechanism is plausible for shallow-water carbonates which lie in the reach of meteoric diagenesis or fresh-water lenses. Circular structures which occur in deeper waters, however, need an alternative interpretation. Such an example of sea-floor depressions in more than 300. m deep waters occurs in the Inner Sea of the Maldives carbonate platform in the Indian Ocean. The structures were mapped with multibeam and Parasound, multi-channel seismics were used to link the depressions with structures at depth. The circular depressions have diameters of up to 3000. m and depths of up to 180. m. The craters are interpreted as pockmarks formed through the venting of gas and fluids. Gas and fluid lenses below the pockmarks are reflected by bright spots in the seismic sections as well as a reduction of the instantaneous frequency. These areas at depth are linked to chimneys connected to faults and drowned Oligocene carbonate banks. A model is presented that relates the different forms and sizes of the structures to distinct development stages of sea floor deformation to one process. Early stages of gas and fluid migration into the shallow part of the sedimentary succession induce formation of dome-shaped bodies. Initial gas and fluid escape to the sea floor is reflected by the formation of sand volcanoes and aligned small pockmarks. Active pockmarks are the deepest, and have the shape of truncated cones in cross section. Mature pockmarks are characterized by erosion of the flanks of the structure by bottom currents. Late stage pockmarks are bowl-shaped in cross section, and are to different degrees filled by drift sediments. Packages of strata revealing high reflection amplitudes and high interval velocities interpreted as microbially-mediated carbonate precipitates underlie some of the pockmarks. The pockmarks in the Maldives show that circular structures other than solution-related features can be abundant in carbonate platform deposits and that such structures may be more abundant in the geological record of carbonate platforms as previously thought. Pockmarks in the Maldives indicate that the archipelago is an example of a hydrocarbon system which consists of an isolated oceanic carbonate platform overlying a volcanic basement and lacustrine source rocks.


Origin and karst geomorphological significance of the enigmatic Australian Nullarbor Plain blowholes, 2011,
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Doerr Stefan H. , Davies Rob R. , Lewis Alexander, Pilkington Graham , Webb John A. , Ackroyd Peter J. , Bodger Owen

The Australian Nullarbor Plain, one of the world's largest limestone platforms (~200 000?km2), has few distinctive surface karst features for its size, but is known for its enigmatic ‘blowholes’, which can display strong barometric draughts. Thousands of these vertical tubes with decimetre–metre (dm–m) scale diameter puncture the largely featureless terrain. The cause and distribution of these has remained unclear, but they have been thought to originate from downward dissolution and/or salt weathering.
To elucidate blowhole distribution and mode of formation we (i) correlated existing location data with Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data, which distinguishes the subtle undulations (< 10?m per?km) of the landscape, (ii) surveyed blowhole morphology and (iii) determined their rock surface hardness.
Over a sampled area of 4200?km2, the distribution of 615 known blowholes is not correlated with present topography. Blowholes are often connected to small or, in some cases extensive, but typically shallow cavities, which exhibit numerous ‘cupolas’ (dome-shaped pockets) in their ceilings. Statistical arguments suggest that cavities with cupolas are common, but in only a few cases do these puncture the surface. Hardness measurements indicate that salt weathering is not their main cause. Our observations suggest that blowholes do not develop downwards, but occur where a cupola breaks through the surface. Lowering of the land surface is suggested to be the main cause for this breakthrough. Although cupolas may undergo some modification under the current climate, they, as well as the shallow caves they are formed in, are likely to be palaeokarst features formed under a shallower water table and wetter conditions in the past. The findings presented have implications for theories of dissolutional forms development in caves worldwide. The environmental history of the Nullarbor platform allows testing of such theories, because many other factors, which complicate karst evolution elsewhere, have not interfered with landform evolution here. Copyright


Karst geomorphology of carbonatic conglomerates in the Folded Molasse zone of the Northern Alps (Austria/Germany), 2011,
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Goeppert N. , Goldscheider N. , Scholz H.

The Folded Molasse zone of the Northern Alps consists of clastic sedimentary rocks that are usually not considered to be karstifiable. However, large areas within this zone are composed of carbonatic conglomerates. Numerous karst landforms have recently been discovered but are not recorded on official maps and in the literature. Therefore, a research programme was initiated at the Hochgrat site (Austria/ Germany) that included geomorphological mapping and characterisation of the karst phenomena. Both fracture-controlled and hydrodynamically-controlled karren were observed on conglomerate outcrops. The predominant karst landforms, dolines, are typically circular, funnel shaped, most often 2 to 9 m in diameter, 1 to 6 m deep, and frequently act as swallow holes. Poljes that are atypically small (~1 ha) occur in either glacial cirques or syncline depressions, are flat floored and lined with sediment and soil, and drain underground via swallow holes. Short caves, springs with marked discharge variations and estavelles are further evidence for karst development. Karstic landforms are widespread in carbonatic conglomerate terrains, but their dimensions are smaller than in typical limestone karst. The practical implications of these findings are also briefly mentioned in this paper.


Detection and morphologic analysis of potential below-canopy cave openings in the karst landscape around the Maya polity of Caracol using airborne LiDAR, 2011,
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Weishampel J. F. , Hightower J. N. , Chase A. F. , Chase D. Z. , Patrick R. A.

Locating caves can be difficult, as their entranceways are often obscured elow vegetation. Recently, active remote-sensing technologies, in particular laser-based sensor systems (LiDARs), have demonstrated the ability to penetrate dense forest canopies to reveal the underlying ground topography. An airborne LiDAR system was used to generate a 1 m resolution, bare-earth digital elevation model (DEM) from an archaeologically- and speleologically-rich area of western Belize near the ancient Maya site of Caracol. Using a simple index to detect elevation gradients in the DEM, we identified depressions with at least a 10 m change within a circular area of no more than 25 m radius. Across 200 km2 of the karst landscape, we located 61 depressions. Sixty of these had not been previously documented; the other was a cave opening known from a previous expedition. The morphologies of the depressions were characterized based on the LiDAR-derived DEM parameters, e.g., depth, opening area, and perimeter. We also investigated how the measurements change as a function of spatial resolution. Though there was a range of morphologies, most depressions were clustered around an average maximum depth of 21 m and average opening diameter of 15 m. Five depression sites in the general vicinity of the Caracol epicenter were visited; two of these were massive, with opening diameters of ,50 m, two could not be explored for lack of climbing gear, and one site was a cave opening into several chambers with speleothems and Maya artifacts. Though further investigation is warranted to determine the archaeological and geological significance of the remaining depressions, the general methodology represents an important advancement in cave detection.


Hypogene Processes of the Gypsum Beds in Sangaw Sinkholes, Kurdistan Region, NE-Iraq, 2011,
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Ameen, B. M.

The Sangaw region is located at the western part of Zagros orogenic belt at the boundary between Low and High Folded Zones, Sulaimani governorate in Kurdistan region. The area characterized by low amplitude folds that are trending northwest southeast and arranged in en echelon pattern. The exposed formations are Eocene Pila Spi (limestone), middle Miocene Fat`ha(lagoon) and Upper Fars (clastics) formations. Many large and small sinkholes are found around Ashdagh anticline; some of them about 50 m in diameter and about 30 m deep. Some are developed into complicated cave systems with collaps blocks and breccias in addition to narrow passages and fissures. The largest of them is located directly to the west of Darzilla village at the southeastern plunge of Ashdagh anticline. The sinkholes occur in Fat`ha and in the Pila Spi Formations. The walls of the sinkholes are covered by secondary gypsum, sulfur, bitumen and secondary calcite. Inside the cave collapse, breccias and blocks with lensoidal stratified clayey sediments as weathering product could be seen. The water is acidic (pH=4) inside the caves and discharges as large spring (200L/S) with white milky color; it is called in the local Kurdish language, “Awa Spi “which means white stream. The weathering of the carbonate rocks is intense inside the cave and appears as honeycombs and rills mark which have very rough surface with dull color. The sinkholes were produced from the dissolution of thick gypsum and limestone beds. The origin of these caves has been proposed to be hypogenic speleogenesis due to the presence of gypsum and bitumen. These materials with the aid of bacteria enrich the water with H2S which aciditfies the water and precipitates the sulfur and secondary gypsum on the cave wall. The formation of H2SO4 by oxidaton of H2S is the main reason that aid the sinkhole hypogene generation in Sangaw area. A realistic model is drawn to interpret and connect the following: 1- The stratigraphy and structure of the area encourage the generation of underground stagnant pond suitable for reacting with the emanating H2S necessary for the hypogene generation of the sinkholes and precipitation of secondary native sulfur and gypsum.2- dissolution of gypsum and its reduction by bacteria. 3- upward migration of bitumen from nearby oil traps(hydrocarbon accumulation).


Paleokarst Breccia-Pipe Reservoir Analogue, Carboniferous, Svalbard, 2011,
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Wheeler Walter, Tveranger Jan, Lauritzen Steinerik, Heincke Björn, Rossi Guiliana, Allroggen Niklas, Buckley Simon

Upwards-propagating collapse pipes typically form sinkholes where they meet the land surface. Renewed dissolution of breccia in ancient pipes can have a similar effect. For these cases, probability-based models of sinkhole hazard are closely related to the expected mature architecture of the collapse-pipe field. We present a case study of the architecture of a square-kilometre field of collapse-pipes from the Carboniferous-Permian in which the pipes are documented in outcrop and using shallow geophysical methods.

The study site is located on the Wordiekammen plateau in the Carboniferous Billefjorden half-graben basin on Spitsbergen. Cliffs bounding the plateau expose breccia pipes cutting a gently-dipping 200-m-thick series of platform carbonates, in turn underlain by stratiform breccias and residual pods of gypsum. Many of the breccia pipes are tall (>250 m) and postdate several shallow karstification episodes. Most pipes are inferred not to have reached the surface based on a lack of terrigenous material and fluvial structure, although several pipes show indications of such surface communication. Although the pipes are generally attributed to gypsum dissolution, a deep carbonate karstification event is inferred based on high temperature calcite cement, and burial dehydration of gypsum, may also have contributed to void formation.

On the plateau top the collapse pipes are obscured by thick scree, thus km-scale size and spacing data for the pipes and faults was collected by mapping the bedrock with 2D ground-penetrating radar (GPR). GPR profiles were acquired on a grid with 25-meter line spacing, using 50 MHz antennas and achieving 30-40 m penetration. Breccia bodies were identified by steep-sided zones of complex diffraction patterns interrupting bedding-related continuous reflections. Two pipes were further studied in 3D using high-resolution GPR, tomographic seismic and geo-electric. These geophysical data were merged into a comprehensive 3D framework including helicopter-borne lidar and photo scans of the plateau rim geology, thus allowing an integrated visualization and interpretation of the different datasets. The GPR data show the breccia pipes to be slightly oblate with diameters ranging from 20 to over 100 m; 60 meters is a typical value. Approximately 10 pipes are identified in cliff-side outcrops bordering the GPR area, whereas 30 more are identified within the plateau by the GPR data. The GPR volume lies about 200 m above the pipe base, hence the pipe-length frequency-distribution data are incomplete. The strata are cut by small-offset (<5m) faults related to collapse processes and larger-offset faults related to regional basin extension. The breccia pipe field appears to be delimited by these more regional faults, in turn inferred to control the thickness of syn-rift gypsum and/or the hydrology of its dissolution. Collapse breccia pipes form strong vertical heterogeneities in rock properties such as porosity and permeability, matrix density, cement, mechanical strength and lithology, affecting fluid-flow characteristics on a meter to hundred-meter scale. It is rare that pipe fields are well exposed at the kilometre scale. Although some scaling data can be obtained from 3D oil-industry seismic reflection data but the resolution insufficient to visualize critical details. The outcrop combination of seismic, electric and geologic techniques facilitates the interpretation of 3D facies architectures and by proxy porosity-permeability relationships. Studies at the km scale are fundamental for understanding basic karst and collapse processes, and yield petrophysical models that can be applied predictively to natural hazards and groundwater or hydrocarbon exploitation in paleokarst settings.


Scientific drilling of speleothems a technical note, 2012,
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Sptl Christoph, Mattey David

This short article provides detailed descriptions of custom-made and commercially available hand-held drilling gear and options for water-flushing units specifically designed to obtained good-quality core material from speleothems even in remote cave regions. We use small-diameter (6-7 mm) diamond drill bits to obtain aliquots of calcite (as little as a few hundreds of milligram) from the interior of the basal part of in-situ stalagmites. These small cores are used to date the onset of stalagmite growth and occasionally to obtain other compositional information. Larger diameter drill bits produce cores 25-32 mm in diameter and up to 1.3 m in length which reveal internal structures and provide axial transects for chemical and isotope analysis and material for preparation of thin sections. This system has been successfully employed to sample flowstone and thick stalagmites. Given the growing interest in speleothem as archives of past environmental change, careful sample selection is primordial to keep the impact of sampling in these unique environments at a minimum. Low-invasive drilling is an essential technique and maximizes the amount of information gained.


Glacier Caves, 2012,
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Gulley Jason D. , Fountain Andrew G.

The processes of cave formation in glaciers are analogous to cave formation in limestone and form from the preferential enlargement of high permeability pathways that connect discrete recharge and discharge points. Cave enlargement in glaciers is driven by small amounts of heat produced by friction as water flows through these high permeability pathways. Because rates of ice melting are many orders of magnitude faster than rates of the dissolution of limestone, glacier caves can grow to humanly traversable diameters within time scales of days to weeks whereas limestone caves of equivalent dimensions require 105–106 years. Because glacier ice is deformable, ice caves are squeezed shut at rates that increase with ice thickness, with deep caves squeezing closed in a matter of days. Glacier cave formation is therefore a dynamic process reflecting competition between enlargement and creep closure. While some glacier caves are reused and continue to evolve from year to year, many glacier caves must form each melt season. The processes of cave formation in glaciers exert important control on subglacial water pressure and affect how fast glaciers flow from higher, colder elevations, to lower warmer elevations. Ice flow directly into the ocean and glacial melt generally are important contributions to sea-level rise. Glacier caves are common in all glaciers that experience significant surface melting.


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