UIS Commission on Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis
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Glossary

Glossary of Karst and Cave Terms

moonmilk
1. A white plastic calcareous cave deposit composed of calcite, huntite, or magnesite. From Swiss dialect moonmilch, elf's milk. Corrupt spelling mondmilch is common [10]. 2. Deposits consisting mainly of very fine particles of calcium and magnesium carbonate precipitated from water in caves and caverns. When in suspension, they give the water the appearance of milk. Name originated in 1714 by M. B. Valentini (Fenelon) [20]. 3. Moonmilk consists of a variety of hydrocarbonates some of which are associated with particular species of bacteria. A common mineral in moonmilk from temperate caves is hydromagnesite; cold caves yield moonmilk of calcite after hydrocalcite [20]. Synonyms: (French.) mondmilch; (German.) Bergmilch, Montmilch; (Greek.) speleogala; (Italian.) latte di monte; (Russian.) kamennoe moloko; (Spanish.) mondmilch, leche de luna; (Turkish.) dik karstik kalinti; (Yugoslavian.) gorsko mlijeko (mleko). Also mountain milk.