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Republished from Gabrovšek, F. (Ed.). 2002. Evolution of karst: from prekarst to cessation. Postojna-Ljubljana, Zalozba ZRC, 347-356. Open link

UIS KHS Commission
Chemical Weathering of Limestones and Dolomites in A Cave Environment
Abstract:

The weathered parts of carbonate bedrock on cave walls are a consequence of its incomplete chemical dissolution. The phenomenon is expressed in parts of the caves where walls are in contact with clastic fluvial sediments, wetted by percolation water or wetted by condensation water, and not rinsed by flowing or dripping water. The temperature in the cave is not an important parameter of weathered zone formation. Incomplete dissolution is characteristic both of Alpine and of Mediterranean caves. Limestone or dolomite are dissolved by corrosive moisture; the dissolution is distinctly selective and it go as on at intervals depending on inflow of new aggressive water. The weathered zone of limestone or dolomite is almost identical to the parent rocks in its chemical and mineral composition yet it is much more porous. During chemical weathering the amount of Mg, Sr and U is decreased, these components being leached out of limestone and dolomite. The amount of insoluble residue is usually higher in weathered limestones and in some other cases in fresh limestones which is not very common but it may occur.