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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 clay plug is fine flood deposits in a cut off river meander [16].?

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.
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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 alps. (Keyword) returned 28 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 16 to 28 of 28
Calcite Moonmilk: Crystal Morphology and Environment of Formation in Caves in the Italian Alps, 2000,
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Borsato A, Frisia S, Jones B, Van Der Borg K,
Calcite moonmilk, which is a cave deposit formed of calcite crystals and water, is found in many caves in the Italian Alps. These modern and ancient deposits are formed of fiber calcite crystals, 50-500 nm wide and 1 to > 10 {micro}m long, and polycrystalline chains that have few crystal defects. Radiocarbon dating indicates that most moonmilk deposits in these caves are fossil and that for most precipitation ceased [~] 6400 cal years BP, at the end of the mid-Holocene Hypsithermal. In the caves of the Italian Alps, the optimal conditions for formation of calcite moonmilk are: (1) a temperature range of 3.5-5.5{degrees}C, (2) low discharge volumes of seepage waters that are slightly supersaturated (SICAL = 0.0 to [~] 0.2), and (3) relative humidity that is at or close to 100%. Microbial activity apparently did not play an active role in the formation of the calcite moonmilk. Conditions for moonmilk formation are typically found in caves that are located beneath land surfaces, which are soil covered and support a conifer forest. Precipitation of the fiber calcite crystals apparently involved very slow flow of slightly supersaturated fluids. The fact that moonmilk appears to form under a narrow range of environmental conditions means that this cave deposit has potential as a paleoclimatic indicator in high alpine karst areas

The Dachstein paleosurface and the Augenstein Formation in the Northern Calcareous Alps - a mosaic stone in the geomorphological evolution of the Eastern Alps, 2001,
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Frisch W, Kuhlemann J, Dunkl I, Szekely B,
The central and eastern areas of the Northern Calcareous Alps (NCA) are characterized by remnants of the Dachstein paleosurface, which formed in Late Eocene (?) to Early Oligocene time and is preserved with limited modification on elevated karst plateaus. In Oligocene time, the Dachstein paleosurface subsided and was sealed by the Augenstein Formation, a terrestrial succession of conglomerates and sandstones, which are only preserved in small remnants on the plateaus, some in an autochthonous position. Thermochronological data suggest a maximum thickness of the Augenstein Formation of >1.3 km, possibly >2 km. The age of the Augenstein Formation is constrained by the overall geological situation as Early Oligocene to earliest Miocene. Fission track age data support an Early Oligocene age of the basal parts of the formation. The source area of the Augenstein Formation consisted predominantly of weakly metamorphic Paleozoic terrains (Greywacke Zone and equivalents) as well as the Late Carboniferous to Scythian siliciclastic base of the NCA to the south of the depositional area. To the west, the Augenstein Formation interfingered with the Tertiary deposits of the Inntal. Sedimentation of the Augenstein Formation was terminated in Early Miocene time in the course of the orogenic collapse of the Eastern Alps. The Augenstein sediments were eroded and redeposited in the foreland Molasse zone. From Pannonian times (similar to 10 Ma) on, the NCA and the denuded Dachstein surface experienced uplift in several pulses. The Dachstein paleosurface has been preserved in areas, in which thick limestone sequences allowed subsurface erosion by cave formation and thus prevented major surface erosion

Carbonate Speleothems in the Dry, Inneralpine Vinschgau Valley, Northernmost Italy: Witnesses of Changes in Climate and Hydrology Since the Last Glacial Maximum, 2002,
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Spotl C. , Unterwurzacher M. , Mangini A. , Longstaffe F. J. ,
An interesting association of slope breccia, inactive and active tufa deposits, and speleothems is present in the central Vinschgau Valley, Italy. The occurrence of abundant carbonate cements in fractures and voids of crystalline basement rocks is unexpected considering the fact that this valley is among the driest spots in the entire Alps. Low annual precipitation of 440-530 mm coupled with frequent wind give rise to a semiarid climate and steppe vegetation along the south-facing slopes of the valley. Springs in this area are mostly supersaturated with respect to calcite, and carbonate precipitation occurs locally as tufas and, less well known because of lack of accessibility, as speleothems in the shallow subsurface. The majority of the tufa deposits and speleothems, however, are fossil. Speleothems are composed of low-Mg calcite and calcite-aragonite, respectively. Delicate growth textures including presumable annual lamination caused by pronounced changes in fluorescence intensity are preserved in both calcite and aragonite. Most calcite is a primary precipitate, but small amounts of secondary calcite replacing aragonite are common in most aragonite-bearing samples. The highly radiogenic Sr isotope composition, as well as high concentrations of U, Fe, Sr, and Mg, indicate that the groundwater from which these carbonates precipitated experienced intensive interaction with the host crystalline rocks. The very low tritium concentrations and the lack of a seasonal O isotope variation in modern spring waters, as well as their rather constant hydrochemical composition, also support this suggestion. S isotope data for dissolved sulfate and Ca and Mg sulfate precipitates indicate a sulfide source, i.e., oxidation of sulfide ore minerals in the aquifer, resulting in elevated sulfate and Fe concentrations. Th/U dating of speleothem samples using thermal ionization mass spectrometry yielded ages between 13,710 and 378 yr BP, with most ages falling in the early to middle Holocene. Although no isotopic dates are available for the tufa deposits, field evidence strongly suggests that speleothems, tufa deposits, and carbonate cements in the slope breccia were closely related. We therefore interpret the existence of these terrestrial carbonates as evidence of changes in climate since the middle Holocene. Their presence suggests a higher annual rainfall during the first half of the Holocene, possibly because of enhanced moisture transport from the Mediterranean

Le jaugeage de dbits torrentiels par dilution dun colorant alimentaire (E110 : jaune orang sunset). Application lexsurgence de la Doria (Massif des Bauges, France), 2003,
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Fanget Bernard, Najib Hamid, Mietton Michel
Measurement of torrential flows (Doria, Prealps of Savoy, France) by dilution of a food colouring (E110: yellow orange sunset) - The aim of this study is the measurement of torrential flows by dilution of a food yellow orange colouring (E110). Field measurements are realised in the Doria river, a mountain torrent in Savoy Prealps. A gauge station, installed since ten years, is periodically calibrated by mechanical and chemical measurements. Moreover, the comparison of the concomitant mechanical and chemical methods allows the statistical validation of the proposed technique. The main advantages of this method are the lack of toxicity and the colour, comparable to the one of aquatic organic matter, and the low detection limit. This method allows high flow measurement values when using suitable tank and adjutage.

Soil types and eolian dust in high-mountainous karst of the Northern Calcareous Alps (Zugspitzplatt, Wetterstein Mountains, Germany), 2003,
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Kufmann C. ,
This, study deals with the soil formation on pure limestone in the high-mountainous karst of Wetterstein Mountains (Northern Calcareous Alps). The study area in detail covers the alpine (2000 to 2350 in) and the subnivale zone (2350 to 2600 in) of Zugspitzplatt, a tertiary paleosurface situated next to the highest summit of Germany (Zugspitze 2963 in). The formation of autochthonous soils is determined by the following parameters: uniform geology and geochemistry of Triassic limestone (CaCO3 MgCO3 greater than or equal to 98%), variable substrata (solid rock, debris, local moraine), hypsometric pattern of vegetation modified by microclimate and aspect, variety of micro-environments in karst relief. In the subnivale zone, only leptosols (lithic, skeletic) and regosols (calcaric, humic) occur, whereas in the alpine zone different stages of folic histosols and rendzic leptosols prevail due to the diversity of vegetation. The purity of limestone prevents a distinct contribution of residues to soil formation. Instead of expected A-B-C profiles, the residues are mixed with organic matter of folic horizons (O-OB-C). Only in karst depressions or on local moraines small Bt horizons (2 to 5 cm) occur. They mark a developed stage of folic histosol (O-OB-Bt-C) representing the climax of autochthonous mineral soil genesis in the study area. Special features are brown deposits (mean thickness 30 cm) covering large parts of the alpine zone. On the basis of mineralogical (X-ray diffraction, heavy minerals) and pedological data (grain size, soil chemistry), eolian origin is indicated. The resulting soils are classified as loess loam-like cambisols (Ah-Bw-2(Bt)-2C) and are related to late glacial loess deposition (Egesen-Stade of Younger Dryas). The abundance of mica and silt in the surface layers and the grain size distribution of snow dust samples prove that dust influx by southerly winds is still continuing. The major sources for both late glacial and present-day dust are magmatic and metamorphic rock formations of the Central Alps. Additionally, local dust transport from adjacent outcrops of Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous sediments is evident. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved

An overview of the current research carried out in the French Western Alps karsts, 2004,
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Audra, Philippe

Current research encloses karst systems geomorphologic approach, recent advances in study of karst structures which date back from the Upper Miocene. Karst genesis in Western Alps is brought up by systemic analysis, according to a geomorphologic approach. It uses the "karst immunity" that conserves old drainage structures and their associated sediments. Karst landscapes can be sorted into horizontal and vertical forms. Speleothems are clearly connected to the presence of vegetation but they also record geomorphic crisis. Clastic sediments reveal mechanical erosion. This approach concludes with karst genesis and speleogenesis reconstruction, which blend together evolution stages, environment characterization and processes. Researchers reconsider the preponderant part previously attributed to glaciers. Karst appears immediately when a gradient exists and when the aquifer is stripped of its impervious cover. Such conditions occurred from the Upper Miocene and sometimes before. Karsts of the Pleistocene age are only met in the Inner Alps where cover stripping occurred later. Vertical systems composed of shaft series are old and become more complex. Field evidence refutes Ford's classification, which assigns a deep phreatic origin. A brief account of the present state of knowledge, according to region and researcher's scientific themes, allows establishing the last decade's advances. It also shows a disparity between the North and the South Western Alps, where Vercors appears to be one of the best studied massifs in the Alps.


Aktuelle Forschungen in der Sdwandhhle (Dachsteinloch, 1543/28), Stmk/O, 2006,
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Seebacher, R.
The Dachstein range (located roughly 50 km southeast of the city of Salzburg) is one of the largest and most impressive limestone massifs in the Alps. Its highest peaks reach almost 3000m in altitude and there are several huge cave systems in the northern part. Among them are the Hirlatzhhle (length 95 km, depth 1070 m) and the Mammuthhle (62 km, 1207 m). The Sdwandhhle is located at the foot of the southern flank of the Dachstein massive and is known since 1886. First speleological explorations were done by Hermann Bock in 1910. At that time, the passage all the way to the Dome (400m) was surveyed. Bock assumed already an opening to further passages in the roof of the dome. However, the breakthrough to new passages was made as late as 1980, when members of the Austrian Alpine Club of Schladming (AV Schladming) managed to climb up two walls and discovered new galleries. In the following two decades several kilometres of big passages were discovered. Unfortunately there was very little or no documentation of these parts of the cave carried out. Students of the University of Dresden have conducted an 800m long theodolite survey and a number of passage profiles in the framework of a diploma thesis. In 2001, cave explorers of the Verein fr Hhlenkunde in Obersteier (VHO), Bad Mitterndorf, started to explore and survey the cave systematically. The exploration is done in cooperation with the Museum of Natural History (NHM) in Vienna and aims for comprehensive scientific documentation.

Barka depression, a denuded shaft in the area of Snez?nik Mountain, southwest Slovenia, 2007,
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Zupan Hajna N.
On the southern slope of Dedna gora, Slovenia, at an elevation of 1147 m, an interesting large closed depression referred to as Barka (Barge) is developed. It is about 40 m long, 25 m wide and 20 m deep, with smooth, almost polished precipitous walls. It is developed in Upper Cretaceous limestones and affected by several faults and fissure zones. The feature lies within a large karren field (about 104 m2) with many closed depressions of various dimensions. In the winter time, snow accumulates in the bottoms giving the appearance of snow-kettles, such as those found in the Alps. The size and especially the shape of the walls suggests that these features are the remains of shafts. After their primary genesis as the inner vadose shafts of one or more caves, their upper parts would have been denuded. Walls and bottoms were subsequently remodeled by snow and ice action during the last glaciations, and this continues today as winter snow accumulates at their bottoms. This is indicated by silt fragments (gelifraction) and frost rubble accumulated in portions of the depression, and the development of sorted and nonsorted polygons. Shafts that have been exposed at the surface are a potentially important morphological element of karst topography. They can represent a significant portion of closed depressions of different sizes, including many snow-kettles.

Polnische Forschungen in den Hhlen Salzburgs - Teil 1: Die Erfolge der Krakauer Hhlenforscher (KKTJ), 2007,
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Ciszewski A. , Klappacher W.
For more than 30 years, Polish cavers have been exploring Salzburgs karst areas in cooperation with Salzburgs Speleological Society. This is the first of two articles, which will present the great achievements of the Polish cavers in a comprehensive documentation for the first time. This part deals with the Polish expeditions headed by A. Ciszewski to the Leoganger Steinberge and the Kitzsteinhorn, as well as the results of two smaller explorations in the Loferer Steinberge and the Tennengebirge. The systematic exploration of the Lamprechtsofen and its catchment areas in the high regions of the Leoganger Steinberge, which have been going on for decades, is of international importance. More than 50 km long and 1632 m deep, the Lamprechtsofen ranks among the major cave systems of the Alps. The Feichtner-Schachthhle situated on the Kitzsteinhorn is considered to be one of the most important caves of the Central Alps. 1145 m deep and 5.5 km long, it is of special interest because it has developed in calcareous mica schist where karstification occurs only to a limited extent.

Kryogene Calcite unterschiedlicher Kristallform und Kathodolumineszenz aus der Glaseishhle am Schneiber (Steinernes Meer/Nationalpark Berchtesgaden, Deutschland, 2009,
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Richter D. K. , Voigt S. , Neuser R. D.
For the first time calcite that apparently precipitated from slowly freezing water is described from a cave in the Eastern Alps. These cryogenic carbonates show anomalously low ?18O-values (-18.5 to -23.0 VPDB) but high ?13C-values (+4.7 to +6.6 VPDB) when compared to normal speleothems from the Alps. Two types of rhombohedral crystals (normal and steep rhombohedra) of different C/O-isotopic composition occur together on the cave floor suggesting a later mixing of calcite particles which initially formed in different environments. This is in accordance with the highly variable cathodoluminescence patterns of these crystals. It is suggested that these cryogenic calcite particles formed in separate pools on the cave ice surface during the transition from the last glacial to the current interglacial. After melting of the ice the different calcite particles accumulated on the cave floor.

Young uplift in the non-glaciated parts of the Eastern Alps, 2010,
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Wagner T. , Fabel D. , Fiebig M. , Hä, Uselmann Ph. , Sahy D. , Xu S. , Stü, We K.

We report the first incision rates derived from burial ages of cave sediments from the Mur river catchment at the eastern margin of the Eastern Alps. At the transition zone between the Alpine orogen and the Pannonian basin, this river passes through the Paleozoic of Graz — a region of karstifiable rocks called the Central Styrian Karst. This river dissects the study area in a north–south direction and has left behind an abundance of caves. These caves can be grouped into several distinct levels according to their elevation above the present fluvial base level. Age estimates of abandoned cave levels are constrained by dating fluvial sediments washed into caves during the waning stages of speleogenesis with the terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide method. These ages and the elevations of the cave levels relative to the current valley floor are used to infer a very complex history of 4 million years of water table position, influenced by the entrenchment and aggradation of the Mur river. We observe rather low rates of bedrock incision over the last 4 Ma (in the order of 0.1 mm/y) with an e-folding decrease in this trend to lower rates at younger times. We relate this incision history to a tectonic setting where an increase of drainage area of the Mur river due to stream piracy in Late Miocene to Pliocene times is linked to surface uplift. The later decrease in valley lowering rates is attributed to the rise of the base level related to aggradation of sediments within the valley. Sediment transport through the valley from the upstream section of the Mur river limited the erosional potential of the river to a transport limited state at the later stages of the incision history.


Speleothems and mountain uplift, 2011,
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Meyer Michael C. , Cliff Robert A. , Spö, Tl Christoph

Ancient speleothems were recovered from caves that today are situated in a high-alpine cirque landscape at 2500 m altitude at the northern rim of the European Alps. U-Pb ages date speleothem deposition to the early Quaternary (between 2.16 and 2.12 Ma and ca. 2.00 Ma), i.e., well before the onset of major alpine and Northern Hemisphere glaciations. Using a stable isotope–based modeling approach, we quantitatively estimate the paleoelevation of both the caves and their former catchment area, which in turn allows us to calculate rates of rock and surface uplift (and hence erosion) since 2 Ma. We show that for the frontal part of the Alps, rates of rock uplift and erosion were ∼0.75 and ∼0.5 mm/yr, respectively, and further suggest that isostatic uplift of mountain peaks of as much as ∼500 m in response to enhanced glacial erosion occurred during the Quaternary. This study highlights the potential of U-Pb-dated speleothems for reconstructing paleoaltimetry, particularly in calcareous mountain ranges, where a standard thermochronologic assessment of exhumation and erosion is generally not feasible.


Holocene glacier history from alpine speleothems, Milchbach cave, Switzerland, 2011,
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Luetscher M. , Hoffmann D. L. , Frisia S. , Spö, Tl C.

Mountain glaciers and their sediments are prominent witnesses of climate change, responding sensitively to even small modifications in meteorological parameters. Even in such a classical and thoroughly studied area as the European Alps the record of Holocene glacier mass-balance is only incompletely known. Here we explore a novel and continuous archive of glacier fluctuations in a cave system adjacent to the Upper Grindelwald Glacier in the Swiss Alps. Milchbach cave became partly ice-free only recently and hosts Holocene speleothems. Four coeval stalagmites show consistent petrographic and stable isotopic changes between 9.2 and 2.0ka which can be tied to abrupt modifications in the cave environment as a result of the closing and opening of multiple cave entrances by the waxing and waning of the nearby glacier. During periods of Holocene glacier advances, columnar calcite fabric is characterized by 18O values of about 8.0 indicative of speleothem growth under quasi-equilibrium conditions, i.e. little affected by kinetic effect related to forced degassing or biological processes. In contrast, fabrics formed during periods of glacier minima are typical of bacterially mediated calcite precipitation within caves overlain by an alpine soil cover. Moreover, 18O values of the bacterially mediated calcite fabrics are consistent with a ventilated cave system fostering kinetic fractionation. These data suggest that glacier retreats occurred repeatedly before 5.8ka, and that the amplitudes of glacier retreats became substantially smaller afterwards. Our reconstruction of the Upper Grindelwald Glacier fluctuations agrees well with paleoglaciological studies from other sites in the Alps and provides a higher temporal resolution compared to traditional analyses of peat and wood remains found in glacier forefields.


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