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Featured article from karst/cave journal

Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, 2011, Vol 73, Issue 2, p. 114-123
The use of a karstic cave system in a study of active tectonics: fault displacements recorded at Driny Cave, Male Karpaty Mts (Slovakia)
This paper reports on a study of active tectonics undertaken in the intracratonic setting of central Europe in the junction zone between Eastern Alps and Western Carpathians. The study site is focused on the karstic system of Driny Cave in the Male Karpaty Mts, Slovakia. A range of geological, geomorphological, and in situ displacement data are presented. From previous geological mapping and our slickenside analyses, it is clear that the cave system has developed along significant fault structures. Further geomorphological investigations pointed towards ongoing faulting and block movements. For example, a number of slope failures can be seen on the hillsides above the cave and numerous fresh speleothem breaks can be observed within the cave. To test this hypothesis, three optical-mechanical crack gauges were installed in 2005. These gauges confirmed and quantified the ongoing movements. The NNE-SSW striking fault has recorded a strike-slip trend of 0.1 mm/year and a normal fault trend of 0.03 mm/year. The NW-SE striking fault has recorded a strike-slip trend of 0.04 mm/year. In addition, it has been possible to define their precise kinematics. Moreover, different strike-slip mechanisms along two transverse fault systems point to a horizontal stress field orientation. These results confirm the existence of active tectonic structures within central Europe. It is considered that the methodology described here can also be applied in other intracratonic settings where karstic cave systems are present. This would help define potentially seismogenic areas where unambiguous evidence for active faulting is lacking.