Republished from: Proc. of the 4th Mammoth Cave Science Conf., Mammoth Cave, KY, 1995, 135-144.
  PDF: /pdf/seka_pdf4471.pdf

Christopher G. Groves (1) and Joe Meiman (2)

(1) Center for Cave and Karst Studies, Department of Geography and Geology,
Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY 42101, USA

(2) Division of Science and Resource Management,
Mammoth Cave National Park , Mammoth Cave , KY 42259 , USA

Abstract

Since the evolution of any cave system is largely deterministic, in theory the processes responsible for this development could be described mathematically. In a practical sense, we will never have such a model to realistically describe the evolution of the Mammoth Cave System in detail. However, the search itself can provide a framework within which to understand what processes are important. This can guide the design of rate process studies that would eventually be coupled to provide a comprehensive understanding of the cave's evolution. Data gaps, as well, are identified during this process.

The geometry of a cave system depends on the individual growth rates of sequential sets of passage cross-sections. The growth of each of these cross-sections is determined by a set of coupled processes, the rates of which are related to well-defined variables. Major processes include limestone dissolution and precipitation (dependent on water and rock chemistry, flow characteristics, wetted passage perimeter, and temperature), sediment entrainment, deposition, and abrasion (dependent on flow velocity distributions and properties of the sediment supply), and breakdown processes (dependent on fracture characteristics). Our ability to model the complete picture depends on our grasp of these individual behaviors, as well as their interactions.

Republished from: Proc. of the 4th Mammoth Cave Science Conf., Mammoth Cave, KY, 1995, 119-133.
  PDF: /pdf/seka_pdf4486.pdf

Arthur N. Palmer and Margaret V. Palmer

Department of Earth Sciences, State University of New York ,
Oneonta.NY 13 820-4015, USA

Abstract

Low-velocity capillary seepage in the vadose zone is responsible for a variety of geochemical processes in Mammoth Cave . Water that infiltrates through the cap-rock of detrital sandstone and shale is isolated from the high-CO 2 of the soil before it encounters the underlying carbonate rocks, so that carbonate dissolution in narrow fissures around the cave takes place under nearly closed conditions with respect to CO 2 . As a result, the equilibrium P CO2 of the capillary water decreases to nearly zero and the pH can rise to more than 9.0. When the water emerges into the cave it rapidly absorbs CO 2 from the cave air and becomes highly aggressive toward carbonate rocks. Where discrete trickles exit from fissures, deep irregular rills are formed. Where the flow is more diffuse, the cave walls are weathered to a chalky white by partial dissolution and recrystallization of the carbonate rock. If the water has acquired sulfate from oxidation of pyrite or dissolution of residual gypsum within the bedrock, the SO 4 = /CO 3 = ratio of the water rises sharply at the cave walls, promoting the replacement of carbonate bedrock by gypsum. The pH decrease caused by the uptake of CO 2 enables silica to precipitate in small amounts in the weathering rind. Direct measurement of capillary water chemistry is difficult because of the small quantity and inaccessibility of the water involved, but it can be reliably inferred from the geochemical setting and the effects upon the cave.

  PDF: /pdf/seka_pdf4480.pdf

R.A.L. Osborne

School of Development and Learning, A35
University of Sydney , NSW, 2006 Australia

Abstract

Dykes and other vertical bodies can act as aquicludes within bodies of karst rock. These partitions separate isolated bodies of soluble rock called compartments. Speleogenetically each compartment will behave as a small impounded-karst until the partition becomes breached. Breaches through partitions, portals, allow water, air and biota including humans to pass between sections of caves that were originally isolated.

Republished from: Proc. of the 4th Mammoth Cave Science Conf., Mammoth Cave, KY, 1997, 15-23.
  PDF: /pdf/seka_pdf4463.pdf

Darlene M. Anthony (1) , Chris Groves (1) and Joe Meiman (2)

(1) Center for Cave and Karst Studies, Department of Geography and Geology,
Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY 42101, USA

(2) Division of Science and Resource Management,
Mammoth Cave National Park , Mammoth Cave , KY 42259 , USA

Abstract

Many geochemical studies have been made of karst waters worldwide. Most data that provide the framework for our current understanding of the evolution of karst waters have come from sampling at discrete times and locations, such as springs or wells. Relatively few studies have been made of the geochemical evolution of groundwater as it moves through an open flow system. This paper addresses the seasonal changes in the geochemistry of the Logsdon River conduit as it passes through nearly 10km of the carbonate aquifer of south-central Kentucky .

The most important control on the ability of groundwaters to dissolve limestone is their carbon dioxide pressure, which is influenced by a variety of complex interactions with soil, bedrock, and in-cave organic decay. The fieldwork involved in this research combines seasonal sampling of the entire traversable length of the Logsdon River conduit, as well as continuous monitoring of the chemistry at key points within the flow system. Preliminary results of this study indicate both seasonal changes in CO 2 , transport through the Mammoth Cave karst aquifer during summer and winter conditions, along with significant geochemical changes as the water moves through a distance of 10km.

  PDF: /pdf/

D. Taboroši (1), J. W. Jenson (2) and J. E. Mylroie (3)

(1) Water & Environmental Research Institute of the Western Pacific,
University of Guam, Mangilao, GU 96923, USA

(2) Water & Environmental Research Institute of the Western Pacific,
University of Guam, Mangilao, GU 96923, USA

(3) Department of Geoscie nces, Mississippi State University ,
Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA

Abstract

In contrast to Paleozoic limestones where drainage is based on classical cave systems (secondary porosity), young limestones of uplifted carbonate islands retain substantial distributed primary porosity. Consequently, speleogenesis on such islands is restricted to environments where dissolution is sufficiently focused to produce caves. Thus, on Guam and similar islands, solution voids large enough for human traverse occur only in settings where dissolution has been focused by hydrologic or geologic boundaries. In the vadose zone, these boundaries are lithologic contacts or structural discontinuities that channel the flow of aggressive water. In the phreatic zone, the boundaries are hydrologic contacts, where aggressive water is produced through the mixing of saturated waters. These geologic and hydrologic settings are sites of significant speleogenesis, each characterized by morphologically and hydrologically distinct types of caves.

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