UIS Commission on Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis

The International Conference "Hypogene Speleogenesis and Karst Hydrogeology of Artesian Basins" has been held in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, in May 13-17, 2009. It has been organized under auspices of the Union International of Speleology  (UIS) and its Commission on Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis, International Geoscience Program 513 "Global Study of Karst Aquifers and Water Resources" (UNESCO) and the International Year of Planet Earth (UNESCO-IUGS).

The principal organizer of the Conference was the Ukrainian Institute of Speleology and Karstology (UISK). The co-organizers and sponsors of the Conference include:

- Fed'kovich Chernivtsy National University, Ukraine

- Vernadsky Tavrichesky National University, Ukraine

- Institute of Geological Sciences, National Academy of Science, Ukraine

- National Cave and Karst Research Institute, USA

- Karst Water Institute, USA

- Silesian University, Poland

- Katowice Section of the Polish Geographic Society, Poland

- Ukrainian Speleological Association

The current surge in recognition of the broad occurrence and significance of hypogene speleogenesis (i.e. speleogenesis driven by groundwater and aggressiveness coming from depth), as well as of its marked specifics in comparison to better studied epigenic (hypergenic) karst (i.e. karst formed by groundwater coming from the overlying or immediately adjacent surfaces) has stimulated intense theoretical and regional studies on the topic worldwide. Timely exchange of ideas and results of ongoing studies is particularly important during this period. The Conference, therefore, aimed to provide such a possibility, and to overview the current developments and advances in the area.  The specific reason for conducting this Conference in the Western Ukraine was the representativeness of the region and its caves for the evolving theory of hypogene speleogenesis.

The Conference venue was the historic main building of the Fed'kovich Chernivtsi National University and the Bukovina Hotel in Chernivtsi.    

Fifty three scientists and cave explorers have attended the Conference, representing 23 nations including: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Russia, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and United States.

During two days of scientific sessions (13 and 14 of May) thirty three papers were presented. The Conference has culminated with a panel discussion centered on the problem of definition and criteria of identification of hypogene speleogenesis. The very stimulating and thoughts-provoking discussion have revealed many aspects still to be studied and clarified, as one could expect for the rapidly evolving area. It is quite evident, however, that the growing understanding of nature, regularities and the broad occurrence of hypogene speleogenesis signifies the ongoing change of the karst paradigm and is of a great importance for theoretical karstology and geospeleology. This understanding is also crucial for our ability to adequately resolve problems of karst groundwater resources protection and management, karst sinkhole/subsidence hazard prediction and mitigation, as well as for prospecting and exploration of oil and gas resources and other economic deposits.

During the following three days (May 15-17), field trips through the gypsum karst of the Western Ukraine have been conducted. The trips served to illustrate scientific and practical aspects of hypogene speleogenesis, karst hydrogeology of artesian basins, and engineering geology of covered karst. The trips were designed to demonstrate a spectrum of evolutionary types of karst and some of the outstanding gypsum caves present in the region, including Kristal'na, Yubileyna, Ozerna and Zoloushka caves. The latter two are among the world longest caves, with their respective lengths of 128 and 92 km. Although the Conference participants have visited the area around Optymistychna Cave, the second longest cave in the world and the longest one in gypsum, it was not possible to visit this cave because the morphology of its entrance series is not suitable for quick visits by large groups. The field trips also included a number of sites of cultural importance. The Conference participants gratefully acknowledged the assistance of cavers from the speleological clubs of Ternopil, Chernivtsi and Kishinev (Moldova) in arranging the visits to the caves they explore and manage.

For the Conference, the organizers have published the proceedings volume containing full texts of most papers, and several books relevant to the topic (see references below), which will be valuable contribution to the upcoming 15th International Congress of Speleology (July-August 2009, Kerrville, USA).         

By the unanimous opinion of the participants, the Conference has been of a great success. It continued a series of the topic event that started with the Hypogene Speleogenesis Symposium held within the GSA Meeting in Houston, USA, in October 2008, organized by the US National Cave and Karst Research Institute. In view of the rapid developments in the field, it seems desirable to have specific events on Hypogene Speleogenesis regularly during next several years. 

Dr. Alexander Klimchouk,

Conference Chairman,

Vice-President, International Union of Speleology

Director, Ukrainian Institute of Speleology and Karstology


Books published for the Conference:

Klimchouk, A.B. and Ford, D.C. (eds.).  Hypogene Speleogenesis and Karst Hydrogeology of Artesian Basins.  Ukrainian Institute of Speleology and Karstology, Special Paper 1, Simferopol, 2009. - 292 pp.   ISBN 978-966-2178-38-8.

The volume contains papers presented during the International Conference held May 13 through 17, 2009 in Chernivtsi, Ukraine.

For the list of contents, visit



Klimchouk A.A., Andreychouk V.N., and Turchinov I.I.  The structural prerequisites of speleogenesis in gypsum in the Western Ukraine. The 2-nd edition, revised. University of Silesia - Ukrainian Institute of Speleology and Karstology, Sosnowiec- Simferopol. - 97 p. ISBN 978-83-87431-94-5

In this book geological the conditions of speleogenesis in the Miocene gypsum in the Western Ukraine are characterized, particularly the role of lithological and structural prerequisites in speleogenesis. The special attention is given to structural and textural unhomogeneities in the gypsum stratum and to their role in the formation of fractures. Fracture networks in the gypsum and the structure of the unique maze cave systems are examined in details. It is shown that speleo-initiating fractures in the gypsum strata belong to the lithogenetic type and form largely independent multi-storey networks, with each storey being confined within a certain vertical structural/textural zone (unit) of the stratum. This determines the multi-storey structure of the caves in the region.

Two problems related to structural and textural characteristics of the gypsum stratum are discussed in details: the formation of giant dome structures by way of gypsum recrystallization during the synsedimentary and early diagenesis stages, and the genesis of fractures. Speleogenetic realization of the existing structural prerequisites occurred under conditions of a confined multi-storey artesian aquifer system due to an upward flow across the gypsum from the under-gypsum aquifer.

The book may be of interest for karstologists, speleologists, engineering geologists, hydrogeologist, as well as for those who study lithology and petrography of evaporates.

Tables 2, ill. 29, bibl. 67.



Andreychouk V., Dublyansky Y., Yezhov Y., and Lysenin G. Karst in Earth-s Crust: distribution and the main types.  University of Silesia - Ukrainian Institute of Speleology and Karstology,  Sosnowiec- Simferopol, 2009. - 72 pp.  ISBN 978-83-87431-93-8

Some problems of theoretical karstology are considered. An attempt is made to match the fundamentals of karstology and recent ideas on the structure of lithosphere and the vertical zoning of hydrosphere. Boundary conditions of karstogenesis and karst zoning are discussed. The boundaries and the structure of karstosphere, as well as the place of karst among other geological processes are defined.      The book is of interest for karstologists, hydrogeologists, geologists and geographers.