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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 organic pollution is contamination originating from organic sources [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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Cave inception and development in Caledonide metacarbonate rocks. PhD thesis, 2005,
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Faulkner, Trevor Laurence

This is the first comprehensive study of cave inception and development in metacarbonate rocks. The main study area is a 40000km2 region in central Scandinavia that contains over 1000 individual metacarbonate outcrops, and has nearly 1000 recorded karst caves (with passage lengths up to 5.6km). The area, which was repeatedly glaciated in the late Cenozoic, comprises a suite of nappes in the Cambro–Silurian Caledonides, a paleic range of mountains with terranes presently occurring on both sides of the northern Atlantic. Information about the stripe karst and non-stripe karst outcrops and their contained caves was assembled into computer-based databases, enabling relationships between the internal attributes of the caves and their external geological and geomorphological environments to be analysed. A rather consistent pattern emerged. For example, karst hydrological system distances are invariably shorter than 3.5km, and cave passages are positioned randomly in a vertical dimension, whilst commonly remaining within 50m of the overlying surface. This consistency is suggestive that the relevant cave inception, development and removal processes operated at a regional scale, and over long timescales. A consequence of the epigean association of caves with the landscape is that cave development can only be understood in the context of the geomorphological evolution of the host region. A review of the latest knowledge of the inception and development of caves in sedimentary limestones concluded that the speleogenesis of the central Scandinavian caves cannot be explained by these ideas. Five new inter-related conceptual models are constructed to explain cave development in metacarbonate rocks in the various Caledonide terranes. These are:
1. The tectonic inception model - this shows that it is only open fracture routes, primarily created by the seismic shocks that accompany deglaciation, which can provide the opportunity for dissolution of metalimestone rocks that have negligible primary porosity.
2. The external model of cave development - this black-box approach reveals how the formation, development and destruction of the karst caves are related to the evolution of their local landscape. During the Pleistocene, these processes were dominated by the cycle of glaciation, leading to cyclic speleogenesis, and the development of ever-longer and deeper systems, where the maximum distance to the surface commonly remains within one-eighth of the extent of change in local relief.
3. The hydrogeological model - this demonstrates that the caves developed to their mapped dimensions in timescales compatible with the first two models, within the constraints imposed by the physics and chemistry of calcite dissolution and erosion, primarily in almost pure water. Relict caves were predominantly formed in phreatic conditions beneath active deglacial ice-dammed lakes, with asymmetric distributions on east- and west-facing slopes. Mainly vadose caves developed during the present interglacial, primarily vadose, conditions, with maximum dimensions determined by catchment area. Combination caves developed during both deglacial and interglacial stages. The cross-sections of phreatic passages obey a non-fractal distribution, because they enlarged at maximum rates in similar timescales. Phreatic cave entrances could be enlarged at high altitudes by freeze / thaw processes at the surface of ice-dammed lakes, and at low altitudes by marine activity during isostatic uplift.
4. The internal static and dynamic model of cave development - this white-box approach demonstrates that many caves have ‘upside-down’ morphology, with relict phreatic passages overlying a single, primarily vadose, streamway. Both types of passage are guided along inception surfaces that follow the structural geology and fractures of the carbonate outcrops. Dynamically, the caves developed in a ‘Top-Down, Middle-Outwards’ (TDMO) sequence that may have extended over several glacial cycles, and passages in the older multi-cycle caves were removed downwards and inwards by glacial erosion.
5. The Caledonide model - this shows that the same processes (with some refinements) applied to cave development in most of the other (non-central Scandinavian) Caledonide areas. The prime influences on cave dimensions were the thicknesses of the successive northern Atlantic glacial icesheets and the positions of the caves relative to deglacial ice-dammed lakes and to local topography. Other influences included contact metamorphism, proximity to major thrusts, and marine incursions. With knowledge of these influences for each area, mean cave dimensions can be predicted.
The thesis provides the opportunity for the five models to be extended, so that cave development in other glaciated metamorphic and sedimentary limestones can be better understood, and to be inverted, so that landscape evolution can be derived from cave data.


Hydraulic processes in the origin of tiankengs, 2006,
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Palmer An, Palmer Mv
Tiankengs are formed most commonly by the collapse of bedrock into underlying caves that contain active rivers. The collapse propagates itself by blocking and diverting the underground streams, so that hydraulic gradients become steeper and the solutional and erosional capacities are enhanced. Most of the volume of a tiankeng is produced by removal of mass by the cave streams. A large and fluctuating discharge is most favorable. As diversion passages form and enlarge, they foster further collapse and diversion. Stress release around the collapse encourages the opening of new fractures with trends that differ from regional fracture patterns. These processes account for the large scale of tiankengs in comparison to the original cave passages.

Size scales for closed depression landforms: the place of tiankengs, 2006,
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White Wb, White El
Development of large collapse structures in karstic terrain requires an interaction between mechanical instability and chemical removal of collapsed rock. Upward migration of pre-existing voids can choke out if there is no mechanism for the efficient removal of fallen blocks. Rates of dissolution, size of initial cavity, and overlying bedrock characteristics determine the size of the final surface landform. Collapse features range in scale from small sinkholes to hundreds of meters in such features as the Golondrinas collapse pit in Mexico. Tiankengs are interpreted as end members features on a continuous scale.

Vashegyite from Gaura cu Musc? Cave., 2006,
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Onac Bogdan P. , Zaharia Lumini?a, Kearns Joe, Veres Daniel
This study investigated the occurrence of vashegyite from a guano-rich deposit located in the Gaura cu Musc? Cave, Romania. Analytical methods used include optical microscopy, X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), scanning electron-microscopy (SEM), inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES), thermal investigations and Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) analyses. Vashegyite occurs as friable, chalky white, irregular nodules of up to 2.5 cm in diameter, within a 15 cm thick sequence of organic and minerogenic sediments. The chemical structural formula is: (Al10.91Fe3+ 0.06Na0.1Ca0.02Mg0.08)?=11.17[(PO4)8.78(SiO4)0.056]?=8.83(OH)6.1743.79H2O. Electron microscope images show vashegyite crystals to be flattened on (001). The orthorhombic lattice constants of vashegyite determined by XRD are a = 10.766(2) , b = 15.00(4) , c = 22.661(1) , and V = 3660.62 3 (Z = 4). The major weight loss, reflected in 3 endothermic peaks, was observed between 40 and 200C, corresponding to the removal of water molecules. Vashegyite FT-IR absorption bands are comparable in position and relative intensity to other Al-phosphates. Water percolating through guano becomes strongly acidic and reacts with the clay-rich sediment laid down by the underground stream to form vashegyite. In the lower part of the investigated profile, crandallite and ardealite were also found.

Size scales for closed depression landforms: the place of tiankengs, 2006,
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White William B. , White Elizabeth L.

Development of large collapse structures in karstic terrain requires an interaction between mechanical instability and chemical removal of collapsed rock. Upward migration of pre-existing voids can choke out if there is no mechanism for the efficient removal of fallen blocks. Rates of dissolution, size of initial cavity, and overlying bedrock characteristics determine the size of the final surface landform. Collapse features range in scale from small sinkholes to hundreds of meters in such features as the Golondrinas collapse pit in Mexico. Tiankengs are interpreted as end members features on a continuous scale.


Applications of stalagmite laminae to paleoclimate reconstructions: Comparison with dendrochronology/climatology, 2006,
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Tan Ming, Baker Andy, Genty Dominique, Smith Claire, Esper Jan, Cai Binggui,
Laminated stalagmites, observed in either ultra-violet or visible light or recognized via trace elements, are now widely recognized as a common deposition form. Annually laminated stalagmites should be expected in caves which have an overlying climate that has a strong seasonality, similar climate zones to where trees grow with distinct annual rings. Continuous laminated stalagmite chronologies (up to several thousand years) should be expected where some mixing of stored water occurs. Such stalagmites can be used to reconstruct climate, particularly through variations in lamina width. Such climate records would be relatively damped by mixing of `event' water with `stored' groundwater, constraining the amount of high-frequency climate signals contained in the stalagmite, but relatively long continuous lamina sequences permit the preservation of low frequency, centennial scale, climate signals. This contrasts with numerous tree ring climate records, which are frequently limited in preserving multi-centennial trends, due to the necessary removal of age related noise from relatively short tree segments. Laminated stalagmites and tree rings should therefore to some degree provide complementary climate information. Appropriate methods for compiling stalagmite layer chronologies and climatologies are presented

Hydraulic processes in the origin of tiankengs, 2006,
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Palmer An, Palmer Mv
Tiankengs are formed most commonly by the collapse of bedrock into underlying caves that contain active rivers. The collapse propagates itself by blocking and diverting the underground streams, so that hydraulic gradients become steeper and the solutional and erosional capacities are enhanced. Most of the volume of a tiankeng is produced by removal of mass by the cave streams. A large and fluctuating discharge is most favorable. As diversion passages form and enlarge, they foster further collapse and diversion. Stress release around the collapse encourages the opening of new fractures with trends that differ from regional fracture patterns. These processes account for the large scale of tiankengs in comparison to the original cave passages.

Size scales for closed depression landforms: the place of tiankengs, 2006,
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White Wb, White El
Development of large collapse structures in karstic terrain requires an interaction between mechanical instability and chemical removal of collapsed rock. Upward migration of pre-existing voids can choke out if there is no mechanism for the efficient removal of fallen blocks. Rates of dissolution, size of initial cavity, and overlying bedrock characteristics determine the size of the final surface landform. Collapse features range in scale from small sinkholes to hundreds of meters in such features as the Golondrinas collapse pit in Mexico. Tiankengs are interpreted as end members features on a continuous scale.

Hydraulic considerations in the development of tiankengs, 2006,
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Palmer Arthur N. , Palmer Margaret V.

Tiankengs are formed most commonly by the collapse of bedrock into underlying caves that contain active rivers. The collapse propagates itself by blocking and diverting the underground streams, so that hydraulic gradients become steeper and the solutional and erosional capacities are enhanced. Most of the volume of a tiankeng is produced by removal of mass by the cave streams. A large and fluctuating discharge is most favorable. As diversion passages form and enlarge, they foster further collapse and diversion. Stress release around the collapse encourages the opening of new fractures with trends that differ from regional fracture patterns. These processes account for the large scale of tiankengs in comparison to the original cave passages.


Glacial destruction of cave systems in high mountains, with a special reference to the Aladaglar massif, Central Taurus, Turkey, 2006,
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Klimchouk A. Bayari S. Nazik L. TÖ, Rk K.

Erasure of karst features and dissection of karst are among the main destructive effects of glacial action upon karst (Ford, 1983). They lead to destruction of functional relationship between the relief and a karst system, and to glacial dissection of pre-glacial cave systems. Stripping of the epikarstic zone and upper parts of cave systems on sub-horizontal surfaces results in prevalence of decapitated shafts in high mountains affected by glaciations. Vertical dissection of a karst massif by glacial erosion creates cave openings in sub-vertical surfaces (cliffs), a well known feature. Observations of vertical shafts exposed by cliffs are less common. Such shafts, unwalled by surface geomorphic processes, are in a certain way an analogous to the “unroofed” caves, exposed by denudational lowering of sub-horizontal surfaces. The Aladaglar Massif (Central Taurus, Turkey) is an outstanding example of high mountain karst. The high-altitude part of the massif has been severely glaciated during quaternary. Glacial erosion was the dominant factor in the overall surface morphology development, resulting in the formation of numerous glacial valleys, cirques, ridges and pyramidal (horn) peaks. The overall relief between the highest peaks and the lowest karst springs in Aladaglar is 3350 m. The local vertical magnitude of relief between bottoms of glacial valleys and surrounding ridges is up to 1700 m. Recent studies suggest that the most recent major glaciation occurred in the Aladaglar massif during the Holocene Cooling and terminated between 9,300 and 8,300 years BP. This paper describes unwalled shafts at subvertical surfaces, a feature which is common in Aladaglar but is not so common, or overlooked, in other high mountain areas. Exposure of such shafts is mainly due to intense gravitational processes induced by the combined effect of the removal of the ice support to cliffs and the glacial rebound.


Ptrographie dune altrite rsiduelle de type fantme de roche , 2007,
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Havron Ccile, Baele Jeanmarc, Quinif Yves
PETROGRAPHY OF A RESIDUAL ALTERITE GHOST-ROCK . Classically, the karstogenesis begins with a phase of dissolution along fissures. Progressively, the fissure broadens and more water flows. Some fissures transform in more important void, sometimes galleries. The fondamental fact is that the removal of bed-rock is total, the greatest part by solution (carbonates, calcium and magnesium, sodium and potassium...), the rest one like solid phase (clay minerals, quartz...). We call this process total removal. But another karstification process exists: the ghost-rock formation. The first phase of the ghost-rock formation begins with an isovolumic alteration of the bed-rock. The insoluble parts remain while the soluble parts are evacuated with underground water. This insoluble part is constituted by clays minerals, silica phase, sparite like fossils, or big cristals and forms a residual alterite. That is the ghost-rock formation. This is the case for the present example which is a residual alterite in a very pure wackestone. This object presents like a volume of alterite confined in the intact bed-rock. We study this ghost-rock by a petrographic analysis. The macroscopic approach emphasizes the great porosity of the ghost-rock which is very crumbly. The border between the ghost-rock and the bed-rock is very irregular, emphazising the petrophysic differences. The microscopic approach shows in the ghost-rock a general collapse of the structure where subsist only the best cristallized grains. The alteration increases to the detriment of the little cristals, saving the bioclasts, or to the detriment of the fissures. One detects also another phase which is constituted by gypsum. The examination using the electron microscope shows that the bed-rock is formed by well soldered grains, crystals, primary pyrite. On the other hand, the ghost-rock is characterised by a great porosity, secondary pyrite, corrosion gulfs on crystals. This is the indication that the acid function comes from sulfuric acid by oxydation of the sulfide. This is the reason of the presence of gypsum. After the alteration, the organic matter present in the bed-rock (black limestone) can reduce the gypsum in secondary sulfide. The conclusion is that the formation of the ghost-rock can develop in a pure limestone, and non only in a limestone with silico-clay skeleton. This ghost-rock represents the first stage of the genesis: an isovolumic alteration, without macroscopic void, before a collapse of the weathering rock.

tude des transferts de masse et de chaleur dans la grotte de Lascaux: le suivi climatique et le simulateur., 2007,
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Lacanette D. , Malaurent Ph. , Caltagirone J. P. , Brunet J.
Study of heat and mass flows in Lascaux cave: the climatic monitoring and the simulation tool. The cave of Lascaux, discovered in 1940 and located in the Dordogne area in France, is inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List. It is considered as one of the major prehistoric caves in the world. Since its discovery, several problems have occurred, due to the huge amount of visitors, and their release of vapour and carbon dioxide by their breath, causing the formation of calcite and the apparition of green algae and mosses. The Ministry of Cultural Affairs had the cave closed in 1963. Since then, prehistorians, archaeologists, geologists, hydrogeologists, have tried hard to maintain the cavity in the most stable state as possible, using remote metering to record the variations in temperature, hygrometry, and carbon dioxide gas pressure. The biological equilibrium remained fragile and, in 2001, colonies of micro-organisms, mushrooms and bacteria developed on the rock edges and on the floor. This attack made the authorities and the Minister of Culture and Communication create the scientific international comity of the Lascaux cave, a multidisciplinary comity (composed of archaeologists, physicists, geologists, hydrogeologists, conservators working altogether) to understand the mechanisms of apparition of the micro-organisms in order to stop their propagation. Among the measures taken by the comity, a better understanding of the flows in the cave has appeared very important, and has induced the creation of a simulation tool, the "Lascaux Simulator". The non intrusive character of simulation is one of the major assets of this method. Thus, the numerical simulation in fluid mechanics is here dedicated to the conservation of the cave of Lascaux. The simulator is based on a computational fluid dynamics code named Aquilon. A three dimensional survey has been leaded in the cave using laser scanning and an accurate topology of the environment is incorporated in the simulator. Starting from this point, governing equations of the fluid mechanics are solved and parameters such as temperature, velocity or moisture content are known in every point of the cavity. Thermal conditions are chosen, basing on the analysis of the calculated and measured temperature data for more than 50 years. In this article, two configurations are chosen, the first one in September 1981, period during which the cave remained in a stable state regarding condensation, and the other one in December 1999; at this time, temperature were reversed, the ground of the cavity was colder than the vaults. This phenomenon implied an inversion of the air flow in the cave. Finally, the removal of the dividing wall of the Bauer airlock has been simulated, and it has been showed that the impact on the cavity would be negligible.

ALLUVIAL FANS ON CONTACT KARST: AN EXAMPLE FROM MATARSKO PODOLJE, SLOVENIA, 2007,
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StepiŠ, Nik U. , Ferk M. , GostinČ, Ar P. , Č, Ernuta L. , Peternelj K. , Š, Tembergar T. , IliČ, U.

Several types of contact karst are found within the Slovenian karst, but the most common is the ponor type, which usually appears between flysch and limestone. The most extensive con­tact of this type is in western Slovenia, in the area of Matar­sko podolje, where a variety of typical contact karst depression features can be found. In the northwestern part of Matarsko podolje two types of alluvial fans occur. One alluvial fan has an active process of alluvial sedimentation on its surface and is distinct in shape, just like alluvial fans in fluvial geomorphic systems. The other type represents relict alluvial fans on contact karst. They are fan-shaped surface features in carbonate bed­rock. Their formation is a result of the gradual removal of al­luvial cover and the chemical denudation of carbonate bedrock on areas that were covered by alluvial fans. Geomorphological features and processes on alluvial fans, and the influences of alluvial fans on the development of contact karst have been in­vestigated in detail.


THE LOESS CAVE NEAR THE VILLAGE OF SURDUK AN UNUSUAL PSEUDOKARST LANDFORM IN THE LOESS OF VOJVODINA, SERBIA, 2009,
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Luki? Tin, Markovi? Slobodan B. , Stevens Thomas, Vasiljevi? Djordjije A. , Machalett Bjrn, Milojkovi? Neboja, Basarin Biljana & Obreht Igor
Loess caves (piping caverns, wells, tunnels) exposed in loess cliffs are rare pseudokarst landforms that can be regarded as morphological equivalents to collapse dolines or sinkholes formed in classical karst terrains. This study presents the results of an investigation into a loess cave exposed in a loess cliff on the right bank of the Danube River near the village of Surduk in the Vojvodina region, Serbia. This study provides a first detailed morphologic description of this young pseudokarstic landform formed by piping erosion, probably partly supported with carbonate dissolution. The loess cave has a height of approximately 12 m and average diameter of around 3.5 m. In the middle of the cave ceiling there is a window. Observations indicate that over the last several years, the morphological characteristics of the landform have been stable. The main aim of this study is to provide a better understanding of the evolution of the piping process in the thick loess-paleosol se-quences in the Vojvodina region, northern Serbia. A key role in the genesis of this landform was the short distance between an initial loess doline and a cliff exposing loess sediments, providing the possibility for the lateral removal of loess ma-terial. The presence of Robinia pseudoakacia trees around the initial depression modulated the evolution of the doline and provides support for the loess cavern roof. The nature of the dynamic erosional processes on the steep cliffs of the soft loess sediment indicates a very limited lifetime of this pseudokarstic landform.

KARSTOGENESIS AT THE PRUT RIVER VALLEY (WESTERN UKRAINE, PRUT AREA), 2009,
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Andreychouk V. , Ridush B.

In the middle of the Prut River valley, which stretches along the boundaries of Ukraine, Moldova and Romania and passes across an area of gypsum karst, there are zones in the geological sequence where the gypsum is replaced by overlying laminated clays for its entire thickness (25 m) due to karst processes. The authors believe that the formation of such zones is not related to fluvial erosion but is caused by hypogenic dissolution of the gypsum from the bottom, resulting in subsidence and introduction of the overlying clays into the stratigraphic level of the gypsum. The process was most intense within the zone of a hypothetical fault along which the Prut R. valley is aligned. The fault zone provided for preferential access of con?ned groundwater in the sub-gypsum aquifer to the base of the gypsum bed, and its intense dissolution and removal by rising ?ow.


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