UIS Commission on Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis
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Karstbase Bibliography Database

Pickford, Martin
Macroscopic diagenetic changes in late miocene speleothems, western desert, egypt

Understanding the diagenesis of speleothems is important on account of the fact that such deposits are often used for determining palaeoclimate parameters and for estimating the ages of speleothem growth. Impressive speleothem deposition of Vallesian age occurred in an immense palaeokarst network in the Western Desert, Egypt, the age of formation being determined on the basis of mammalian biochronology (fossils found in spelean clastic deposits intercalated between speleothems). Many of the Egyptian speleothems have been pervasively recrystallised internally, but their outer surfaces are usually well preserved except in the formations which were buried in clastic deposits, in which case the entire speleothem can be recrystallised. The recrystallisation results in large crystals (up to 20 cm diameter) growing radially outwards from the centre of stalagmites and stalactites, or at right angles to the outer surface of flowstone deposits. It is clear that crystal growth occurred without change of volume. Although the recrystallisation of speleothems in the Western Desert of Egypt resulted in the development of unusually large calcite crystals, it does indicate that diagenesis may be an important process that needs to be taken into account before speleothems in other karst systems can be used as raw material for unravelling palaeoclimatic and geochronological parameters. The gross morphology of the Egyptian speleothems is described in order to put on record the effects of diagenesis on them. The geochemistry of the speleothems remains to be studied.

palaeokarst, miocene, palaeoclimate, speleothems
Pickford, Martin , 2012, Macroscopic diagenetic changes in late miocene speleothems, western desert, egypt , Karstologia , 57 , 13 - 18