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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 stage record is stage discharge relations presented in tabulated form [16].?

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


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KarstBase a bibliography database in karst and cave science.

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 tail (Keyword) returned 412 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 391 to 405 of 412
DELINEATION AND CLASSIFICATION OF KARST DEPRESSIONS USING LIDAR: FORT HOOD MILITARY INSTALLATION, TEXAS, 2013,
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Shaw Faulkner M. G. , Stafford K. W. , Bryant A. W.

The Fort Hood Military Installation is a karst landscape characterized by Cretaceous-age limestone plateaus and canyons in Bell and Coryell Counties, Texas. The area is located in the Lampasas Cut Plain region of the Edwards Plateau and is stratigraphically defined by exposures of the Fredericksburg Group. Spatial interpolation of 105 km2 of the Fort Hood Military Installation provided depression data that were delineated and classified using geoanalytical methods. Most of the karst features within the study area are predominantly surficial expressions of collapse features, creating windows into karst conduits with surficial exposures of epikarst spatially limited.The increasing capabilities of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and accuracy of geographically referenced data has provided the basis for more detailed terrain analysis and modeling. Research on terrain-related surface features is highly dependent on terrain data collection and the generation of digital models. Traditional methods such as field surveying can yield accurate results; however, they are limited by time and physical constraints. Within the study area, dense vegetation and military land use preclude extensive traditional karst survey inventories. Airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) provides an alternative for high-density and high-accuracy three-dimensional terrain point data collection. The availability of high density data makes it possible to represent terrain in great detail; however, high density data significantly increases data volume, which can impose challenges with respect to data storage, processing, and manipulation. Although LiDAR analysis can be a powerful tool, filter mechanisms must be employed to remove major natural and anthropogenic terrain modifications resulting from military use, road building and maintenance, and the natural influence of water bodies throughout the study area.


Karst aquifer average catchment area assessment through monthly water balance equation with limited meteorological data set: Application to Grza spring in Eastern Serbia, 2013,
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Vakanjac Vesna Ristić, Prohaska Stevan, Dušan Polomčić, Blagojević Borislava, Vakanjac Boris

In the absence of detailed exploration of karstic catchments, the calculation of available reserves and elements of the water balance equation frequently reflect the topographic size of the catchment area, and not the actual, active (underground) size. The two differ largely where karst is concerned. The paper deals with the problem of average catchment area size estimation in the situation when meteorological data are limited to precipitation and temperature, but discharge records are available for long period. Proposed methodology was applied to, calibrated, and validated on 15 karst springs in Serbia. Results obtained with the model differ up to 20% from hydrogeological exploration results. One of investigated springs is Grza karst spring, which belongs to the karstic formation of Kučaj and Beljanica (the Carpatho­Balkanide Arch of Eastern Serbia). In this paper, we used the Grza Spring to show model application and necessary improvements to progress from graphoanalytical to analytical model. The average catchment area is linked to the model parameter that reduces potential to real evapotranspiration on monthly bases. The model potential lies in the possibility to determine not only catchment area, but real evapotranspiration and dynamic volume of the porous ­ karst groundwater storage as well.


Subterranean aquatic planarians of Sardinia, with a discussion on the penial flagellum and the bursal canal sphincter in the genus Dendrocoelum (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida, Dendrocoelidae), 2013,
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Stocchino G. A. , Sluys R. , Marcia P. , Manconi R.

The paper provides the first detailed account on the taxonomic richness of the subterranean freshwater triclads from Sardinia, including the description of four new species for the genera Dendrocoelum and Phagocata. New records for Dugesia benazzii, Dugesia sp., Crenobia alpina, and Phagocata sp. are also reported. The three new species of Dendrocoelum are the first reported for the island of Sardinia. These species display a bursal canal sphincter and a large adenodactyl with a characteristic anatomy with a zone of fine circular muscle fibers running through the mesenchyme of its papilla. A detailed analysis of the structure of the penial flagellum in the genus Dendrocoelum highlighted six main conditions, some of which have not been previously reported, in regard to the histology of the tip of the penis papilla and the extent of its inversion. The new species of Phagocata represents the first species recorded from Italy and the first anophtalmous species reported from Europe.


New species and new records of springtails (Hexapoda: Collembola) from caves in the Salem Plateau of Illinois, USA, 2013,
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Sotoadames F. N. , Taylor S. J.

The springtail (Hexapoda: Collembola) fauna of eight caves (Wizard Cave, Pautler Cave, Spider Cave, Wanda’s Waterfall Cave, Illinois Caverns, Stemler Cave, Hidden Hand Cave, and Bat Sump Cave) in the Salem Plateau of southwestern Illinois (Monroe and St. Clair counties) was surveyed in 2009 using a combination of methods, including pitfall traps, Berlese-funnel processing of litter, and hand collections by quadrat, on drip pools, free standing bait, and random locations. In total, forty-nine species of springtails were found. Four are described as new to science (Onychiurus pipistrellae n. sp., Pygmarrhopalites fransjanssens n. sp, P. incantator n. sp, and P. salemensis n. sp), four may represent new species but there is insufficient material available to prepare full descriptions (two species in the genus Superodontella, one in Pseudachorutes, one in Sminthurides), and three others (Ceratophysella cf. brevis, C. cf. lucifuga, and Folsomia cf. bisetosa) are identified to species, but differences from the nominal species suggest further studies may indicate the Illinois populations represent distinct forms. In addition, five other species represent new records for Illinois, and eighteen are new cave records for the species in North America. The new records more than double the number of springtails species known from caves in the Salem Plateau region. More than half (twenty-nine) of the species reported are ranked as rare (S1–S2) at the state level. The total number of springtail species in Salem Plateau caves could be more than twice what is recorded in the present study, and more new species and state records should be found when caves in other Illinois karst regions are more thoroughly examined.


Ascending speleogenesis in the Czech Republic and Slovakia , 2013,
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Bosák P. , Bella P.

Several examples of per ascensum (ascending) speleogenesis along deep faults (cf. also were recently described by Bella & Bosák (2012). The concept of ascending speleogenesis in confined or partly confined conditions connected with deep regional fault was proposed, for the first time on the territory of the past Czechoslovakia, by Bosák (1996, 1997) for the origin of the Koněpruské Caves and some other caves in the Koněprusy Devonian (central Bohemia, Czech Republic). Since that time, number of caves with similar speleogenesis has been studied in more of lesser detail. Most of them were originally described as products of phreatic, epiphreatic and vadose speleogenesis related to the evolution of local water courses, valley incision and river terrace systems usually during Middle to Late Pleistocene climatic changes; eventually with Plio-Quaternary climatic oscillations.


Evidences of hypogenic speleogenesis in Slovenian caves , 2013,
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Otoničar, B.

 In Slovenia, known as the country of classical karst, thinking about caves of predominantly hypogenic origin have been treated almost as a heresy. Although we may agree that only on the basis of cave morphology and wall rock features parts of some “common” caves especially close to allogenic inflow and past epipheratic zones cannot be simply related to some past hypogenic phase of cave development (e. g. Osborne 2008; Knez & Slabe 2009) some caves in Slovenia host too many features diagnostic for hypogenic, hydrothermal or at least ascending water flow that such interpretations shouldn’t be considered.

We will present preliminary studies on caves from different karstic regions of Slovenia where cave morphology, wall rock features, mineralogy, general geological setting of the area and partly hydrogeology and hydrogeochemistry suggest, at least on a level of hypothesis, their partial development with hypogenic processes in a wider sense (sensu Palmer 2011). In each of the discussed karstic regions different phenomena diagnostic for some of the hypogenic processes prevails over the others.

In Jelovica high karstic plateau (Julian pre-Alps) and Raduha Mt. (Kamniško-Savinjske Alpe) many caves are locally decorated with big calcite crystals commonly found also as veins on the karstic surface.

The Vrh Svetih Treh Kraljev in Rovtarsko Hribovje, the Pre-alpine region in the western part of central Slovenia, hosts few caves which channels exhibit ramiform and maze like orientation guided by faults and joints with wall rock features characteristic for dissolution with slowly flowing ascending water. A large part of at least one cave is developed in dedolomite while the biggest cave in the area has no known natural entrance. In addition, three wells in the area discharge “sulphuric” water.

In Slovenia many caves show wall rock features that can also be diagnostic for hypogenic speleogenesis or at least to ascending flow. However, such features are most often found in places where high fluctuation of karstic waters mainly with allogenic river inflow occurs. Perhaps some exceptions could be found in the foothills of Jelovica Plateau where especially in one particular maze or anastomotic cave (Jeralovo brezno) no evidence of substantial allogenic inflow occurs although in the lower parts some smaller channels are partly filled by predominately fine grained sandy stream related allogenic deposits.

For more detail information of the above mentioned karstic regions with potential traces of hypogenic spelogenesis see the guidebook of the excursions.


A REVIEW ON HYPOGENE CAVES IN ITALY, 2014,
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De Waele J. , Galdenzi S. , Madonia G. , Menichetti M. , Parise M. , Leonardo Piccini , Sanna L. , Sauro F. , Tognini P. , Vattano M. Vigna B.

Although hypogene cave systems have been described since the beginning of the 20th century, the importance in speleogenesis of ascending fluids that acquired their aggressiveness from in-depth sources has been fully realized only in the last decades. Aggressiveness of waters can be related to carbonic and sulfuric acids and the related corrosion-dissolu­tion processes give rise to different types of caves and under­ground morphologies.

The abundance of hydrothermal springs and associated traver­tine deposits, and the widespread interaction between volcanic or sub-volcanic phenomena and karst in many sectors of the Ital­ian peninsula are a strong evidence of hypogene speleogenesis. Furthermore, researches on secondary minerals have allowed to discover hypogene caves formed by highly acidic vapors in sub­aerial environments, also showing that most of these caves have extremely rich mineral associations.

Despite this, until the late 1980s the only known important cave systems of clear hypogene origin in Italy were considered to be the ones hosted in the Frasassi Canyon and Monte Cucco, in which important gypsum deposits undoubtedly showed that sulfuric acid played an important role in the creation of voids (Galdenzi, 1990, 2001; Galdenzi & Maruoka, 2003; Menichetti et al., 2007). Afterwards many other caves were categorized as formed by the sulfuric acid speleogenesis throughout the entire Apennines. Following the broad definition of hypogene caves by Palmer in 1991, and the even more general one of Klimchouk in the last decade (Klimchouk, 2007, 2009), the number of caves considered of hypogene origin in Italy has grown rapidly. Figure 1 shows the hypogene karst systems of Italy, including, besides the well-known and published ones, also the known and less studied, and presumed hypogene cave systems (see also Table 1).

More recently, in some of these caves detailed studies have been carried out including geomorphology, mineralogy, and geochem­istry. Sulfuric acid caves are known from many regions along the Apennine chain (Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Latium, Campa­nia, Calabria) (Forti, 1985; Forti et al., 1989; Galdenzi and Me­nichetti, 1989, 1995; Galdenzi, 1997, 2001, 2009; Galdenzi et al., 2010; Piccini, 2000; Menichetti, 2009, 2011; Mecchia, 2012; De Waele et al., 2013b), but also from Piedmont, Apulia, Sicily (Vattano et al., 2013) and Sardinia (De Waele et al., 2013a). In this last region ascending fluids have also formed a hypogene cave in quartzite rock. Oxidation of sulfides can locally create hypogene cave morphologies in dominantly epigenic caves, such as in the Venetian forealps (this cave is not shown in Figure 1, being largely epigenic in origin) (Tisato et al., 2012). Ascend­ing fluids have also created large solution voids in Messinian gypsum beds in Piedmont, and these can be defined hypogene caves according to the definition by Klimchouk (Vigna et al., 2010). Some examples of hypogene cave systems due to the rise of CO2-rich fluids are also known in Liguria and Tuscany (Pic­cini, 2000). In the Alps and Prealps (Lombardy), some ancient high mountain karst areas exhibit evidences of an early hypo­gene origin, deeply modified and re-modeled by later epigenic processes. Hypogene morphologies are thus preserved as inac­tive features, and it is often difficult to distinguish them from epigenic ones.

At almost twenty years distance from the first review paper on hypogene cave systems in Central Italy by S. Galdenzi and M. Menichetti (1995), we give a review of the state-of-the-art knowledge on hypogene caves actually known from the whole of Italy


The process of ghost-rock karstification and its role in the formation of caves, 2014,
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Dubois C. , Quinif Y. , Baele J. M. , Barriquand L. , Bini A. , Bruxelles L. , Dandurand G. , Havron C. , Kaufmann O. , Lans B. , Maire R. , Martin J. , Rodet J. , Rowberry M. D. , Tognini P. , Vergari A. ,

This paper presents an extensive review of the process of ghost-rock karstification and highlights its role in the formation of cave systems. The process integrates chemical weathering and mechanical erosion and extends a number of existing theories pertaining to continental landscape development. It is a two stage process that differs in many respects from the traditional single-stage process of karstification by total removal. The first stage is characterised by chemical dissolution and removal of the soluble species. It requires low hydrodynamic energy and creates a ghost-rock feature filled with residual alterite. The second stage is characterised by mechanical erosion of the undissolved particles. It requires high hydrodynamic energy and it is only then that open galleries are created. The transition from the first stage to the second is driven by the amount of energy within the thermodynamic system. The process is illustrated by detailed field observations and the results of the laboratory analyses of samples taken from the karstotype area around Soignies in southern Belgium. Thereafter, a series of case studies provide a synthesis of field observations and laboratory analyses from across western Europe. These studies come from geologically distinct parts of Belgium, France, Italy, and United Kingdom. The process of ghost-rock karstification challenges a number of axioms associated the process of karstification by total removal. On the basis of the evidence presented it is argued that it is no longer acceptable to use karst morphologies as a basis with which to infer specific karstogenetic processes and it is no longer necessary for a karst system to relate to base level as ghost-rock karstification proceeds along transmissive pathways in the rock. There is also some evidence to suggest that ghost-rock karstification may be superseded by karstification by total removal, and vice versa, according to the amount of energy within the thermodynamic system. The proposed chemical weathering and subsequent mechanical erosion of limestone suggests that the development of karst terrain is related far more closely to the geomorphological development of aluminosilicate and siliceous terrains than is generally supposed. It is now necessary to reconsider the origin of many karst systems in light of the outlined process of ghost-rock karstification.


Linking mineral deposits to speleogenetic processes in Cova des Pas de Vallgornera (Mallorca, Spain)., 2014,
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Onac B. P. , Fornós J. J. , Merino A. , Ginés J. , Diehl J.

Cova des Pas de Vallgornera (CPV) is the premier cave of the Balearic Archipelago. Over 74 km of passages develop within two carbonate lithofacies (reef front and back reef), which ultimately control the patterns of the cave and to some degree its mineral infilling. The diversity of speleothem-forming minerals is four times greater around or within hypogene-related features (vents, rims, cupolas), compared to any other vadose passages in the cave. The mineralogy of speleothems (crusts, nodules, crystals, earthy masses) associated with hypogene features in the seaward upper maze of Sector F is characterized by the presence of aragonite, ankerite, huntite, clay minerals, and quartz. In the Tragus and Nord sectors, however, the dominant mineral is dolomite, along with aragonite, celestine, huntite, clay minerals, and quartz. Calcite is by far the most ubiquitous mineral throughout the cave. Detailed macroscopic and scanning electron microanalysis and imaging have permitted the investigation of textural relationships between the minerals associated with vents, rims, and vent’s roof and walls. These studies along with morphological and stable isotope analyses confirm that not all minerals are connected with a hypogene stage in the cave evolution, and furthermore, none of them appears to be sulfuric acid by-products. Instead, the mineral assemblages documented in speleothems from CPV clearly support at least three speleogenetic pathways, namely seacoast mixing, ascending of warm groundwaters, and meteoric recharge (vadose). Thus, cave minerals in Cova des Pas de Vallgornera hold the keys to reconstruction and understanding of processes and conditions under which they precipitated, allowing to establish their relationship with various speleogenetic pathways


Structural and lithological guidance on speleogenesis in quartz–sandstone: Evidence of the arenisation process, 2014,
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A detailed petrographic, structural and morphometric investigation of different types of caves carved in the quartz–sandstones of the “tepui” table mountains in Venezuela has allowed identification of the main speleogenetic factors guiding cave pattern development and the formation of particular features commonly found in these caves, such as funnel-shaped pillars, pendants and floor bumps. Samples of fresh and weathered quartz–sandstone of the Mataui Formation (Roraima Supergroup) were characterised through WDS dispersive X-ray chemical analyses, picnometer measurements, EDAX analyses, SEM and thin-section microscopy. In all the caves two compositionally different strata were identified: almost pure quartz–sandstones, with content of silica over 95% and high primary porosity (around 4%), and phyllosilicate-rich quartz–sandstone, with contents of aluminium over 10% and low primary porosity (lower than 0.5%). Phyllosilicates are mainly pyrophyllite and kaolinite. SEMimages on weathered samples showed clear evidence of dissolution on quartz grains to different degrees of development, depending on the alteration state of the samples. Grain boundary dissolution increases the rock porosity and gradually releases the quartz grains, suggesting that arenisation is a widespread and effective weathering process in these caves. The primary porosity and the degree of fracturing of the quartz–sandstone beds are the main factors controlling the intensity and distribution of the arenisation process. Weathering along iron hydroxide or silt layers, which represent inception horizons, or a strata-bounded fracture network, predisposes the formation of horizontal caves in specific stratigraphic positions. The loose sands produced by arenisation are removed by piping processes, gradually creating anastomosing open-fracture systems and forming braided mazes, geometric networks or main conduit patterns, depending on the local lithological and structural guidance on the weathering process. This study demonstrates that all the typical morphologies documented in these quartz–sandstone caves can be explained as a result of arenisation, which is guided by layers with particular petrographic characteristics (primary porosity, content of phyllosilicates and iron hydroxides), and different degrees of fracturing (strata-bounded fractures or continuous dilational joints).

 


Transferring the concept of minimum energy dissipation from river networks to subsurface flow patterns, 2014,
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Hergarte Stefan, Winkler Gerfried, Birk Steffen

Principles of optimality provide an interesting alternative to modeling hydrological processes in detail on small scales and have received growing interest in the last years. Inspired by the more than 20 years old concept of minimum energy dissipation in river networks, we present a corresponding theory for subsurface flow in order to obtain a better understanding of preferential flow patterns in the subsurface. The concept describes flow patterns which are optimal in the sense of minimizing the total energy dissipation at a given recharge under the constraint of a given total porosity. Results are illustrated using two examples: two-dimensional flow towards a spring with a radial symmetric distribution of the porosity and dendritic flow patterns. The latter are found to be similar to river networks in their structure and, as a main result, the model predicts a power-law distribution of the spring discharges. In combination with two data sets from the Austrian Alps, this result is used for validating the model. Both data sets reveal power-law-distributed spring discharges with similar scaling exponents. These are, however, slightly larger than the exponent predicted by the model. As a further result, the distributions of the residence times strongly differ between homogeneous porous media and optimized flow patterns, while the mean residence times are similar in both cases.


Hydrogeological Characteristics of Carbonate Formations of the Cuddapah Basin, India, 2014,
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Farooq Ahmad Dar

Karst hydrogeology is an important field of earth sciences as the aquifers in carbonate formations represent vital resource of groundwater that feeds a large part of the world population particularly in semi-arid climates. These unique aquifers posses peculiar characteristics developed by dissolutional activities of water. Karst aquifers possess a typical hydrogeological setup from surface to subsurface. The aquifers are governed by slow groundwater flow in matrix porosity, a medium to fast flow in fractures and rapid flow in conduits and channels. This large variability in their properties makes the prediction and modeling of flow and transport very cumbersome and data demanding. The aquifers are vulnerable to contamination as the pollutants reach the aquifer very fast with little or no attenuation. The geomorphological and hydrogeological properties in these aquifers demand specific techniques for their study. The carbonate aquifers of the semi-arid Cuddapah basin were characterized based on geomorphological, hydrogeological and hydrochemical investigations. All the formations are highly karstified possessing one of the longest and deepest caves of India and few springs along with unique surface features. Karstification is still in progress but at deeper levels indicated by growing speleothems of different architectural size. Model of karstification indicates that lowering of base level of erosion resulted in the dissolution of deeper parts of the limestone as represented by paleo-phreatic conduits in the region. Moist conditions of the past were responsible for the karst development which has been minimized due to the onset of monsoon conditions. Karst has developed at various elevations representing the past base levels in the region.

The recharge processes in these aquifers are complex due to climatic and karst specificities. Point recharge is the major contributor which enters the aquifer as allogenic water. It replenishes the groundwater very rapidly. Diffuse recharge travels through soil and epikarst zone. Average annual recharge of semi-arid Narji limestone aquifer is 29% of the rainfall which occurs during 5-7 rain events in the year.

The hydrogeochemical characteristic of karst aquifers is quite varaible. A significant difference is observed in hydrochemistry. High concentrations of SO42-, Cl-, NO3- suggests the anthropogenic source particularly from agriculture. Local Meteoric Water Line of δ2H and δ18O isotopes of rain and groundwater shows a slope of 7.02. Groundwater isotope data shows more depletion in heavy isotopes -a result of high evaporation of the area. Groundwater samples show a trend with a slope of 4 and 3.1 for δ2H and δ18O respectively. Groundwater during dry months gets more fractionated due to higher temperature and little rainfall. The irrigated water becomes more enriched and then recharges the aquifer as depleted irrigation return flow. The isotopes show large variation in spring water. Few springs are diffuse or mixed type and not purely of conduit type in the area. Tracer results indicate that the tracer output at the sampling location depends on the hydrogeological setup and the nature of karstification.

The study has significantly dealt with in disclosing the typical characteristics of such aquifer systems and bringing out a reliable as well as detailed assessment of various recharges to the system. The groundwater chemistry has been elaborated to establish the nature of possible hydrochemical processes responsible for water chemistry variation in semi-arid karst aquifer. Such study has thrown light on the aquifers that are on one hand very important from social and strategic point of view and on the hand were left unattended from the detailed scientific studies.


Karstification of Dolomitic Hills at south of Coimbra (western-central Portugal) - Depositional facies and stratigraphic controls of the (palaeo)karst affecting the Coimbra Group (Lower Jurassic), 2014,
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Dimuccio, Luca Antonio

An evolutionary model is proposed to explain the spatio-temporal distribution of karstification affecting the Lower Jurassic shallow-marine carbonate succession (Coimbra Group) of the Lusitanian Basin, cropping out in the Coimbra-Penela region (western-central Portugal), in a specific morphostructural setting (Dolomitic Hills). Indeed, in the Coimbra Group, despite the local lateral and vertical distributions of dolomitic character and the presence of few thick sandy-argillaceous/shale and marly interbeds, some (meso)karstification was identified, including several microkarstification features. All types of karst forms are commonly filled by autochthonous and/or allochthonous post-Jurassic siliciclastics, implying a palaeokarstic nature.

The main aim of this work is to infer the interplay between depositional facies, diagenesis, syn- and postdepositional discontinuities and the spatio-temporal distribution of palaeokarst. Here, the palaeokarst concept is not limited to the definition of a landform and/or possibly to an associated deposit (both resulting from one or more processes/mechanisms), but is considered as part of the local and regional geological record.

Detailed field information from 21 stratigraphic sections (among several dozens of other observations) and from structural-geology and geomorphological surveys, was mapped and recorded on graphic logs showing the lithological succession, including sedimentological, palaeontological and structural data. Facies determination was based on field observations of textures and sedimentary structures and laboratory petrographic analysis of thin-sections. The karst and palaeokarst forms (both superficial and underground) were classified and judged on the basis of present-day geographic location, morphology, associated discontinuities, stratigraphic position and degree of burial by post-Jurassic siliciclastics that allowed to distinguish a exposed karst (denuded or completely exhumed) than a palaeokarst (covered or partially buried).

A formal lithostratigrafic framework was proposed for the local ca. 110-m-thick combined successions of Coimbra Group, ranging in age from the early Sinemurian to the early Pliensbachian and recorded in two distinct subunits: the Coimbra formation, essentially dolomitic; and the overlying S. Miguel formation, essentially dolomitic-limestone and marly-limestone.

The 15 identified facies were subsequently grouped into 4 genetically related facies associations indicative of sedimentation within supra/intertidal, shallow partially restricted subtidal-lagoonal, shoal and more open-marine (sub)environments - in the context of depositional systems of a tidal flat and a very shallow, inner part of a low-gradient, carbonate ramp. In some cases, thick bedded breccia bodies (tempestites/sismites) are associated to synsedimentary deformation structures (slumps, sliding to the W to NW), showing the important activity of N–S and NNE–SSW faults, during the Sinemurian. All these deposits are arranged into metre-scale, mostly shallowing-upward cycles, in some cases truncated by subaerial exposure events. However, no evidence of mature pedogenetic alteration, or the development of distinct soil horizons, was observed. These facts reflect very short-term subaerial exposure intervals (intermittent/ephemeral), in a semiarid palaeoclimatic setting but with an increase in the humidity conditions during the eogenetic stage of the Coimbra Group, which may have promoted the development of micropalaeokarstic dissolution (eogenetic karst).

Two types of dolomitization are recognized: one (a) syndepositional (or early diagenetic), massive-stratiform, of “penesaline type”, possibly resulting from refluxing brines (shallow-subtidal), with a primary dolomite related to the evaporation of seawater, under semiarid conditions (supra/intertidal) and the concurrent action of microbial activity; another (b) later, localized, common during diagenesis (sometimes with dedolomitization), particularly where fluids followed discontinuities such as joints, faults, bedding planes and, in some cases, pre-existing palaeokarstic features.

The very specific stratigraphic position of the (palaeo)karst features is understood as a consequence of high facies/microfacies heterogeneities and contrasts in porosity (both depositional and its early diagenetic modifications), providing efficient hydraulic circulation through the development of meso- and macropermeability contributed by syn- and postdepositional discontinuities such as bedding planes, joints and faults. These hydraulic connections significantly influenced and controlled the earliest karst-forming processes (inception), as well as the degree of subsequent karstification during the mesogenetic/telogenetic stages of the Coimbra Group. Multiple and complex karstification (polyphase and polygenic) were recognized, including 8 main phases, to local scale, integrated in 4 periods, to regional scale: Jurassic, Lower Cretaceous, pre-Pliocene and Pliocene-Quaternary. Each phase of karstification comprise a specific type of (palaeo)karst (eogenetic, subjacent, denuded, mantled-buried and exhumed).

Finally, geological, geomorphological and hydrogeological characteristics allowed to describe the local aquifer. The elaborated map of intrinsic vulnerability shows a karst/fissured and partially buried aquifer (palaeokarst) with high to very high susceptibility to the contamination.


The formation of the pinnacle karst in Pleistocene aeolian calcarenites (Tamala Limestone) in southwestern Australia, 2015,
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A spectacular pinnacle karst in the southwestern coastal part of Western Australia consists of dense fields of thousands of pinnacles up to 5 m high, 2 m wide and 0.5–5 m apart, particularly well exposed in Nambung National Park. The pinnacles have formed in the Pleistocene Tamala Limestone, which comprises cyclic sequences of aeolian calcarenite, calcrete/microbialite and palaeosol. The morphology of the pinnacles varies according to the lithology in which they have formed: typically conical in aeolianite and cylindrical in microbialite. Detailed mapping and mineralogical, chemical and isotopic analyses were used to constrain the origin of the pinnacles, which are residual features resulting mainly from solutional widening and coalescence of solution pipeswithin the Tamala Limestone. The pinnacles are generally joined at the base, and the stratigraphy exposed in their sides is often continuous between adjacent pinnacles. Some pinnacles are cemented infills of solution pipes, but solution still contributed to their origin by removing the surrounding material. Although a number of pinnacles contain calcified plant roots, trees were not a major factor in their formation. Pinnacle karst in older, better-cemented limestones elsewhere in theworld is similar inmorphology and origin to the Nambung pinnacles, but is mainly influenced by joints and fractures (not evident at Nambung). The extensive dissolution associatedwith pinnacle formation at Nambung resulted in a large amount of insoluble quartz residue, which was redeposited to often bury the pinnacles. This period of karstification occurred at aroundMIS 5e, and therewas an earlier, less intense period of pinnacle development duringMIS 10–11. Both periods of pinnacle formation probably occurred during the higher rainfall periods that characterise the transition from interglacial to glacial episodes in southern Australia; the extensive karstification around MIS 5e indicates that the climate was particularly humid in southwestern Australia at this time.


Gypsum caves as indicators of climate-driven river incision and aggradation in a rapidly uplifting region, 2015,
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Columbu A. De Waele J. , Forti P, Montagna P. , Picotti V. , Ponsbranchu E. , Hellstrom J. , Bajo P. , Drysdale R.

Detailed geomorphological analysis has revealed that subhorizontal gypsum caves in the Northern Apennines (Italy) cut across bedding planes. These cave levels formed during cold periods with stable river beds, and are coeval with fluvial terraces of rivers that flow perpendicular to the strike of bedding in gypsum monoclines. When rivers entrench, renewed cave formation occurs very rapidly, resulting in the formation of a lower level. River aggradation causes cave alluviation and upward dissolution (paragenesis) in passages nearest to the river beds. The U-Th dating of calcite speleothems provides a minimum age for the formation of the cave passage in which they grew, which in turn provides age control on cave levels. The ages of all speleothems coincide with warmer and wetter periods when CO2 availability in the soils covering these gypsum areas was greater. This climate-driven speleogenetic model of epigenic gypsum caves in moderately to rapidly uplifting areas in temperate regions might be generally applicable to karst systems in different geological and climatic conditions.


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