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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 ceiling tube is a half tube remaining in the ceiling of a cave [10].?

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


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Featured articles from Cave & Karst Science Journals
Chemistry and Karst, White, William B.
See all featured articles
Featured articles from other Geoscience Journals
Karst environment, Culver D.C.
Mushroom Speleothems: Stromatolites That Formed in the Absence of Phototrophs, Bontognali, Tomaso R.R.; D’Angeli Ilenia M.; Tisato, Nicola; Vasconcelos, Crisogono; Bernasconi, Stefano M.; Gonzales, Esteban R. G.; De Waele, Jo
Calculating flux to predict future cave radon concentrations, Rowberry, Matt; Marti, Xavi; Frontera, Carlos; Van De Wiel, Marco; Briestensky, Milos
Microbial mediation of complex subterranean mineral structures, Tirato, Nicola; Torriano, Stefano F.F;, Monteux, Sylvain; Sauro, Francesco; De Waele, Jo; Lavagna, Maria Luisa; D’Angeli, Ilenia Maria; Chailloux, Daniel; Renda, Michel; Eglinton, Timothy I.; Bontognali, Tomaso Renzo Rezio
Evidence of a plate-wide tectonic pressure pulse provided by extensometric monitoring in the Balkan Mountains (Bulgaria), Briestensky, Milos; Rowberry, Matt; Stemberk, Josef; Stefanov, Petar; Vozar, Jozef; Sebela, Stanka; Petro, Lubomir; Bella, Pavel; Gaal, Ludovit; Ormukov, Cholponbek;
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Your search for aquifers (Keyword) returned 730 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 706 to 720 of 730
HELIUM ISOTOPES AS INDICATOR OF CURRENT HYPOGENIC KARST DEVELOPMENT IN TAURIDS KARST REGION, TURKEY, 2014,
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Ozyurt N. N. , Bayari C. S.

Hypogenic karst development by means of the aggressiveness of hydrothermal fluids driven and fed by mantle heat and mass flux is a known phenomenon. However, in cases when hydrothermal fluid cools down upon thermal conduction in the near-surface environment and is diluted by near-surface cool groundwater, evidences of this phenomenon may be erased completely. Recent data on the isotopes of helium dissolved in cool karst groundwater samples collected from three different karst aquifers in Turkey suggest an apparent mass flux from mantle, as well as from the crust. In the cases considered, helium content from the mantle increases with the increasing age of groundwater. All cases are located nearby the suture zones which may be easing the upward heat and mass flux. Despite sampling difficulties and high analysis costs, helium isotopes dissolved in cool karst groundwater seem to be useful tool to detect the current hypogenesis at the depths of karst aquifers


SPELEOGENESIS BY THE SULFIDIC SPRINGS AT NORTHERN SIERRA DE CHIAPAS, MEXICO, BASED ON THEIR WATER CHEMISTRY, 2014,
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Rosaleslagarde L. , Boston P. J.

Conspicuous brackish sulfidic springs have been described at the northern Sierra the Chiapas, Mexico. These springs are produced by a mixture between regional and local groundwater flow paths. The regional groundwater has an average Total Dissolved Ions of 3081 mg/L so it has a brackish composition. This brackish water is saturated with respect to calcite and dolomite but undersaturated with respect to gypsum, anhydrite and halite. The mass balance and the discharge rate are used to quantify the mass and volume of minerals that are dissolved by the brackish spring water following Appelo and Postma (1993). This quantification will allow comparing the various speleogenetic mechanisms in the area. This is considering the composition of the spring water is relatively constant over time, as it is suggested by periodic measurements at the Cueva de Villa Luz springs during the last 10 years.
Sulfur isotopes in the water are consistent with anhydrite dissolution as the main source of the sulfate to the brackish spring water. Thus, the average 6 mol/L of sulfate in the brackish springs are produced by dissolution of 6 mol of anhydrite after subtracting the sulfate that could result from evapotranspiration of rainwater. Each liter of brackish water dissolved an average of 882 mg of anhydrite, which are equivalent to dissolving 0.36 cm3 of this mineral considering a density of 2.981 g/cm3. Additionally, using the average brackish water discharge rate of 144 L/s, an average of 57 g of anhydrite are being dissolved each second per every liter of brackish water. This is a minimal value because some of the sulfate in the water is used by sulfate-reducing bacteria in the subsurface to produce the hydrogen sulfide in the spring water. The anhydrite subject to dissolution is found interbedded in the Cretaceous carbonates, either from the subsurface at 4,000 m below sea level to the carbonate outcrops.
Similarly, we can calculate the volume of halite that is being dissolved by the brackish springs, considering chloride is a conservative element and subtracting the chloride concentration from the rainwater from that of the spring water following Appelo & Postma (1993). The 22 mol/L of chloride in the brackish water can result from dissolution in the subsurface of 22 moles or 1.3 g of halite per liter of brackish water. This mass of halite dissolved is equal to 0.59 cm3 considering a density of 2.168 g/cm3. Alternatively, 118 g of halite are dissolved per second per each liter of brackish water if we use the average discharge rate of 144 L/s.
Even when the brackish springs are oversaturated with respect to calcite and dolomite, their dissolution is still possible due to the common ion-effect of calcium after anhydrite dissolution and by mixing of waters with different compositions. A range of 10 to 80 % of brackish water from the regional aquifers mixes with fresh water from the local aquifer based on their water chemistry. Additionally, sulfuric acid speleogenesis occurs due to the oxidation of hydrogen sulfide to sulfuric acid.
Finally, the increase in the chloride concentration of the fresh water springs with respect to the concentration in rainwater was used to estimate that from the 4000 mm/y of annual precipitation, only 4%, 158 to 182 mm/y, recharge the aquifers. This low percentage is slightly higher than the 3.3% recharge in marls, marly limestone, silts and clays (Sanz et al., 2011), probably because of the relatively small area of carbonate outcrops over the entire region and the lack of recharge in altitudes higher than 1500 m above sea level.
Sulfuric acid is the most obvious speleogenetic mechanism occurring in the caves of the northern Sierra de Chiapas, Mexico due to the high hydrogen sulfide concentration in the spring water. In addition, the location of the springs at a zone of regional and local discharge where waters from different composition converge and mix, and the amount of mixing calculated suggests mixing is also an important speleogenetic mechanism. However, the depth and the time constrains at which these two hypogenic mechanisms occur is still unknown. The relatively low rainwater recharge rate suggests epigenesis is limited. Most likely, the porosity created by dissolution of anhydrite and halite in the subsurface is occluded by the precipitation of calcite. Chemical modeling and petrography will help to elucidate the order of the reactions occurring in the subsurface.


The Recession of Spring Hydrographs, Focused on Karst Aquifers, 2014,
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Fiorillo, F.

This study constitutes a review of spring hydrograph recession analysis, and it is focused on karst aquifers. The different literature models have been separated into empirical and physically-based models; in the last ones, only analytical models have been considered, as they provide the discharge equation during recession. Under constant geometrical and hydraulic aquifer characteristics, it has been found that the “exponential form” appears to be the most recurrent theoretical type, at least during the long-term flow recession. During this stage, any deviation from the exponential form, may suggest hydraulic anisotropy of actual aquifers, as well as aquifer geometry has a fundamental role in controlling the shape of spring hydrographs. The hydrodynamics of karst aquifer under recession has been described, associating any segment of the hydrograph to a specific hydrologic condition of the aquifer, and also to a specific physical law which control the water flow.


Vadose CO2 gas drives dissolution at water tables in eogenetic karst aquifers more than mixing dissolution, 2014,
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Gulley J. , Martin J. , Moore P.

Most models of cave formation in limestone that remains near its depositional environment and has not been deeply buried (i.e. eogenetic limestone) invoke dissolution from mixing of waters that have different ionic strengths or have equilibrated with calcite at different pCO2 values. In eogenetic karst aquifers lacking saline water, mixing of vadose and phreatic waters is thought to form caves. We show here calcite dissolution in a cave in eogenetic limestone occurred due to increases in vadose CO2 gas concentrations and subsequent dissolution of CO2 into groundwater, not by mixing dissolution. We collected high-resolution time series measurements (1 year) of specific conductivity (SpC), temperature, meteorological data, and synoptic water chemical composition from a water table cave in central Florida (Briar Cave).We found SpC, pCO2 and calcite undersaturation increased through late summer, when Briar Cave experienced little ventilation by outside air, and decreased through winter, when increased ventilation lowered cave CO2(g) concentrations.We hypothesize dissolution occurred when water flowed from aquifer regions with low pCO2 into the cave, which had elevated pCO2. Elevated pCO2 would be promoted by fractures connecting the soil to the water table. Simple geochemical models demonstrate that changes in pCO2 of less than 1% along flow paths are an order of magnitude more efficient at dissolving limestone thanmixing of vadose and phreatic water.We conclude that spatially or temporally variable vadose CO2(g) concentrations are responsible for cave formation becausemixing is too slow to generate observed cave sizes in the time available for formation. While this study emphasized dissolution, gas exchange between the atmosphere and karst aquifer vadose zones that is facilitated by conduits likely exerts important controls on other geochemical processes in limestone critical zones by transporting oxygen deep into vadose zones, creating redox boundaries that would not exist in the absence of caves.


Identification of the Exchange Coefficient from Indirect Data for a Coupled Continuum Pipe-Flow Model, 2014,
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Wu X. , Kugler Ph. , Lu Sh.

Calibration and identification of the exchange effect between the karst aquifers and the underlying conduit network are important issues in order to gain a better understanding of these hydraulic systems. Based on a coupled continuum pipe-flow (CCPF for short) model describing flows in karst aquifers, this paper is devoted to the identification of an exchange rate function, which models the hydraulic interaction between the fissured volume (matrix) and the conduit, from the Neumann boundary data, i.e., matrix/conduit seepage velocity. The authors formulate this parameter identification problem as a nonlinear operator equation and prove the compactness of the forward mapping. The stable approximate solution is obtained by two classic iterative regularization methods, namely, the Landweber iteration and Levenberg-Marquardt method. Numerical examples on noisefree and noisy data shed light on the appropriateness of the proposed approaches


Focused Groundwater Flow in a Carbonate Aquifer in a Semi-Arid Environment, 2014,
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Green R. T. , Bertetti F. P. , Miller M. S.

An efficient conveyance system for groundwater is shown to have formed in a carbonate aquifer even though it is situated in a semi-arid environment. This conveyance system comprises preferential flow pathways that developed coincident with river channels. A strong correlation between high capacity wells and proximity to higher-order river channels (i.e., within 2.5 km) is used as evidence of preferential flow pathways. Factors that contributed to development of the preferential flow paths: (i) karst development in carbonate rocks, (ii) structural exhumation of a carbonate plateau, and (iii) the requirement that the groundwater regime of the watershed has adequate capacity to convey sufficient quantities of water at the required rates across the full extent of the watershed. Recognition of these preferential pathways in proximity to river channels provides a basis to locate where high capacity wells are likely (and unlikely) and indicates that groundwater flow within the watershed is relatively rapid, consistent with flow rates representative of karstic aquifers. This understanding provides a basis for better informed decisions regarding water-resource management of a carbonate aquifer in a semi-arid environment.


Deep conduit flow in karst aquifers revisited, 2014,
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Kaufmann Georg, Gabrovšek Franci, Romanov Douchko

Caves formed in soluble rocks such as limestone, anhydrite, or gypsum are efficient drainage paths for water moving through the aquifer from the surface of the host rock towards a resurgence. The formation of caves is controlled by the physical solution through dissociation of the host rock by water or by the chemical solution through reactions of the host rock with water enriched with carbon dioxide. Caves as large underground voids are simply the end member of secondary porosity and conductivity characterizing the aquifer.

Caves and their relation to a present or past base level are found both close to a past or present water table (water-table caves) and extending far below a past or present water table (bathy-phreatic caves). One explanation for this different speleogenetic evolution is the structural control: Fractures and bedding partings are preferentially enlarged around more prominent faults, thus the fracture density in the host rock controls the speleogenetic evolution. This widely accepted explanation [e.g. Ford and Ewers, 1978] can be extended by adding other controls, e.g. a hydraulic control: As temperature generally increases with depth, density and viscosity of water change, and particularly the reduction of viscosity due to the increase in temperature enhances flow. This hypothesis was proposed by Worthington [2001, 2004] as a major controlling factor for the evolution of deep-bathyphreatic caves.

We compare the efficiency of structural and hydraulic control on the evolution of a cave passage by numerical means, adding a third control, the chemical control to address the change in solubility of the circulating water with depth. Our results show that the increase in flow through deep bathy-phreatic passages due to the decrease in viscosity is by far outweighted by effects such as the decrease in fracture width with depth due to lithostatic stress and the decrease in solubility with depth. Hence, the existence of deep bathy-phreatic cave passages is more likely to be controlled by the structural effect of prominent faults.


Characterisation and modelling of conduit restricted karst aquifers – Example of the Auja spring, Jordan Valley, 2014,
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Schmidta Sebastian, Geyera Tobias, Guttmanb Joseph, Mareic Amer, Riesd Fabian, Sauter Martin

The conduit system of mature karstified carbonate aquifers is typically characterised by a high hydraulic conductivity and does not impose a major flow constriction on catchment discharge. As a result, discharge at karst springs is usually flashy and displays pronounced peaks following recharge events. In contrast, some karst springs reported in literature display a discharge maximum, attributed to reaching the finite discharge capacity of the conduit system (flow threshold). This phenomenon also often leads to a non-standard recession behaviour, a so called “convex recession”, i.e. an increase in the recession coefficient during flow recession, which in turn might be used as an indicator for conduit restricted aquifers. The main objective of the study is the characterisation and modelling of those hydrogeologically challenging aquifers. The applied approach consists of a combination of hydrometric monitoring, a spring hydrograph recession and event analysis, as well as the setup and calibration of a non-linear reservoir model. It is demonstrated for the Auja spring, the largest freshwater spring in the Lower Jordan Valley. The semi-arid environment with its short but intensive precipitation events and an extended dry season leads to sharp input signals and undisturbed recession periods. The spring displays complex recession behaviour, exhibiting exponential (coefficient α) and linear (coefficient β) recession periods. Numerous different recession coefficients α were observed: ∼0.2 to 0.8 d−1 (presumably main conduit system), 0.004 d−1 (fractured matrix), 0.0009 d−1 (plateau caused by flow threshold being exceeded), plus many intermediate values. The reasons for this observed behaviour are the outflow threshold at 0.47 m3 s−1 and a variable conduit–matrix cross-flow in the aquifer. Despite system complexity, and hence the necessity of incorporating features such as a flow threshold, conduit–matrix cross-flow, and a spatially variable soil/epikarst field capacity, the developed reservoir model is regarded as relatively simplistic. As a number of required parameters were calculated from the hydrogeological analysis of the system, it requires only six calibration parameters and performs well for the highly variable flow conditions observed. Calculated groundwater recharge in this semi-arid environment displays high interannual variability. For example, during the 45-year simulation period, only five wet winter seasons account for 33% of the total cumulative groundwater recharge.


Nonlinear Flow Process: A New Package to Compute Nonlinear Flow in MODFLOW, 2014,
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Mayaud C. , Walker P. , Hergarten S. , Birk S.

A new MODFLOW package (Nonlinear Flow Process; NLFP) simulating nonlinear flow following the Forchheimer equation was developed and implemented in MODLFOW-2005. The method is based on an iterative modification of the conductance calculated and used by MODFLOW to obtain an effective Forchheimer conductance. The package is compatible with the different layer types, boundary conditions, and solvers as well as the wetting capability of MODFLOW. The correct implementation is demonstrated using four different benchmark scenarios for which analytical solutions are available. A scenario considering transient flow in a more realistic setting and a larger model domain with a higher number of cells demonstrates that NLFP performs well under more complex conditions, although it converges moderately slower than the standard MODFLOW depending on the nonlinearity of flow. Thus, this new tool opens a field of opportunities to groundwater flow simulation with MODFLOW, especially for core sample simulation or vuggy karstified aquifers as well as for nonlinear flow in the vicinity of pumping wells.


A review on natural and human-induced hazards and impacts in karst, 2014,
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Gutiérrez Francisco, Parise Mario, De Waele Jo, Jourde Hervé

Karst environments are characterized by distinctive landforms related to dissolution and a dominant subsurface drainage. The direct connection between the surface and the underlying high permeability aquifers makes karst aquifers extremely vulnerable to pollution. A high percentage of the world population depends on these water resources. Moreover, karst terrains, frequently underlain by cavernous carbonate and/or evaporite rocks, may be affected by severe ground instability problems. Impacts and hazards associatedwith karst are rapidly increasing as development expands upon these areas without proper planning taking into account the peculiarities of these environments. This has led to an escalation of karst-related environmental and engineering problems such as sinkholes, floods involving highly transmissive aquifers, and landslides developed on rocks weakened by karstification. The environmental fragility of karst settings, togetherwith their endemic hazardous processes, have received an increasing attention from the scientific community in the last decades. Concurrently, the interest of planners and decision-makers on a safe and sustainable management of karst lands is also growing. This work reviews the main natural and human-induced hazards characteristic of karst environments, with specific focus on sinkholes, floods and slope movements, and summarizes the main outcomes reached by karst scientists regarding the assessment of environmental impacts and their mitigation.


Karst water resources in a changing world: Review of hydrological modeling approaches, 2014,
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Karst regions represent 7–12% of the Earth’s continental area, and about one quarter of the global population is completely or partially dependent on drinking water from karst aquifers. Climate simulations project a strong increase in temperature and a decrease of precipitation in many karst regions in the world over the next decades. Despite this potentially bleak future, few studies specifically quantify the impact of climate change on karst water resources. This review provides an introduction to karst, its evolution, and its particular hydrological processes. We explore different conceptual models of karst systems and how they can be translated into numerical models of varying complexity and therefore varying data requirements and depths of process representation. We discuss limitations of current karst models and show that at the present state, we face a challenge in terms of data availability and information content of the available data. We conclude by providing new research directions to develop and evaluate better prediction models to address the most challenging problems of karst water resources management, including opportunities for data collection and for karst model applications at so far unprecedented scales


Hydrogeological and Environmental Investigations in Karst Systems, 2014,
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Karst is the result of climatic and geohydrological processes, mainly in carbonate and evaporite rocks, during geological periods of Earth history. Dissolution of these rock formations over time has generated karst aquifers and environments of significant water and mineral resources. In addition, beautiful landscapes have been created which constitute natural parks, geosites, and caves. Due to their origin and nature, karstified areas require investigation with special techniques and methodology. International collaboration and discussions on advances in karst research are necessary to promote Karst Science. The International Symposium on Karst Aquifers is one of the worldwide events held periodically to specifically address karst environments. The symposium constitutes an ongoing international forum for scientific discussion on the progress made in research in karst environments. The first and second symposiums were organized in Nerja (near Malaga, Spain), in 1999 and 2002; the third and fourth symposiums were held in Malaga city in 2006 and 2010. The 5th International Symposium on Karst Aquifers (ISKA5) occurred in Malaga on during October 14–16, 2014. It was organized by the Centre of Hydrogeology University of Málaga (CEHIUMA) and the Spanish Geological Survey (IGME), in cooperation with UNESCO and the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) Karst Commission. More than 100 contributions were received from 30 countries on five continents. Presentations made during the symposium and published in this book are a compendium of 70 of these manuscripts. Papers submitted by April 2014, were peer-reviewed and subsequently accepted by the Scientific Committee. Contributions are grouped into five sections:

• Methods Utilized to Study Karst Aquifers.

• Karst Hydrogeology.

• Mining and Engineering in Karst media.

• Karst Cavities.

• Karst Geomorphology and Landscape.

A large part of the contributions, 30 %, is related to Methods Utilized to Study Karst Aquifers. Several issues are addressed: methods for groundwater recharge assessment, dye tracer and stable isotope applications, analysis of hydrodynamic data and hydrochemistry, among others. Most contributions, 40 %, however, are on Karst Hydrogeology. These are primarily in connection with various topics such as numerical modeling in karst, floods, karst groundwater flow, protection of karst aquifers or pollution, and vulnerability in karst. Five percent of the published papers deal with Mining and Engineering in Karst Media. These papers are about tunnels, hydrogeological risks, and karst risk assessment in mining and civil engineering. Another section concerning Karst Cavities encompasses 15 % of the contributions. These chapters deal with corrosion and speleogenetic processes, speleothems, CO2 sources, the global carbon cycle in endokarst, and the study of past climate. Karst Geomorphology and Landscape constitutes the remaining 10 % of the contributions. These papers are related to karst features, wetlands, hypogene speleogenesis, geodiversity, and karstic geosites. The results of project work performed by karst specialists worldwide are described in the book. Included in it are experiences from pilot sites, methodologies, monitoring, and data analyses in various climatic, geological, and hydrogeological contexts. Material presented may be utilized for activities such as teaching and technical-professional applications particularly as they apply to the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of karst studies. Information provided may also be useful to decisions makers in making critical decisions regarding development in karst regions. Scientists and engineers and many of the lay public interested in karst environments will benefit from the contents


Characteristics of channel networks in unconfi ned carbonate aquifers, 2014,
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Carbonate aquifers are some of most challenging to characterize because dissolution can greatly enhance permeability, but its effects are often difficult to determine. This study analyzes data from caves, wells, and tracer tests to explore the extent of solution channel networks and the factors that influence their development. The nonlinear dissolution kinetics of calcite, mixing of waters with different CO2 concentrations, and unstable dissolution fronts all promote the development of solution channels, which are widespread in unconfined carbonate aquifers. Fractures are important for guiding channels at a local scale, but hydraulic gradients are the dominant control at a regional scale. Channels provide continuous, large-aperture pathways that result in rapid groundwater flow. Small channels are much more abundant than large channels, and often account for most of the permeability measured in wells. Caves represent the largest channels; they are more common in limestone than in dolostone, and the development of caves rather than smaller channels is also favored where there is sparse fracturing, low matrix porosity, and the presence of sinking stream recharge rather than percolation recharge. Solution channel networks have fractal properties, and their presence explains why carbonate aquifers have higher permeability than aquifers in any other rock type.


Characteristics of channel networks in unconfined carbonate aquifers, 2014,
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Worthington, Stephen R. H.

Carbonate aquifers are some of most challenging to characterize because dissolution can greatly enhance permeability, but itseffects are often diffi cult to determine. This study analyzes data from caves, wells, and tracer tests to explore the extent of solution channel networks and the factors that infl uence their development. The nonlinear dissolution kinetics of calcite, mixing of waters with different CO2 concentrations, and unstable dissolution fronts all promote the development of solution channels, which are widespread in unconfi ned carbonate aquifers. Fractures are important for guiding channels at a local scale, but hydraulic gradients are the dominant control at a regional scale. Channels provide continuous, large-aperture pathways that result in rapid groundwater fl ow. Small channels are much more abundant than large channels, and often account for most of the permeability measured in wells. Caves represent the largest channels; they are more common in limestone than in dolostone, and the development of caves rather than smaller channels is also favored where there is sparse fracturing, low matrix porosity, and the presence of sinking stream recharge rather than percolation recharge. Solution channel networks have fractal properties, and their presence explains why carbonate aquifers have higher permeability than aquifers in any other rock type


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.


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