A study of cyclic aspects of origin and development of limestone caverns

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1952

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It was the purpose of this Investigation (1) to present a study of the cyclic aspect of origin and development of limestone caverns; and (2) to present the probable characteristics of caverns at various stages of development. This thesis has been developed almost entirely on investigation of the literature. However, photographs and moving pictures were used to supplement this research. The writer has made numerous trips through limestone caverns. The impressions of these trips were helpful. A major portion of the literature supports the theory that limestone caverns were developed above the water table. This development was caused by the solvent properties of percolating waters. Many prominent geologists support the theory that caverns were developed by the lateral flow of the circulating waters at the water table. Geologists also support the theory that caverns were developed by sub-water table flow of these percolating waters. A discussion of the factors that affect the formation of limestone caverns has been presented. These factors are: (1) type, composition and nature of the sediments, (2) volume, intensity and distribution of rainfall, (2) distribution and type of joints, bedding planes and other fracture openings, (4) solvent property of the percolating and circulating waters, (5) type of soil and vegetal cover, (6) solubility of the limestone, (7) position of the water table, (8) velocity developed by the percolating and circulating waters, (9) structural conditions prior to fend during development of the caverns, and (10) the physiography. The purpose of the study, of the factors affecting development of limestone caverns, was to determine the condition prevailing at various stages of development. From this study the probable characteristics of caverns were established for four stages of development, These four stages are: infancy, youth, maturity and old age. The probable characteristics of limestone caverns at the various stage of development indicate that the theories of origin are interrelated. It Is proposed that the caverns are first developed above the water table, grading into development at the water table, and that the sub-water table development only occurs in certain well developed caverns.

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