27 Apr 2019
The Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan not only offers a fascinating spectrum of geology; it also hosts a variety of karst regions, the majority of which are still poorly known. Our focus was the Tyuya Muyun massif southwest of the city of Osh, an area of Carboniferous carbonate rocks known to host hypogene karst features. A key element of this karst is its association with unusual mineralisation including barite, fluorite as well as rare U, V and Cu-bearing minerals, which had been mined for Ra more than a century ago.
Back in 1989, Yuri Dublyansky visited the area as part of an international expedition and published the only available report in 2017. 30 years later, he and Christoph Spötl decided to re-visit the area and take a fresh new look at these caves, some of which were only encountered during mining activities. Joined by Gabriella Koltai, Tanguy Racine and Charlotte Honiat our team surveyed three caves, took detailed observations and a suite of rock, mineral and groundwater samples. We were fascinated by the dimensions and mineral associations of some of these geod-type cavities, with calcite crystal sizes up to 30 cm.
This expedition would not have been possible without the great on-site support by Alexey Dudashvili who heads the Foundation for the Preservation and Exploration of Caves and his small team, as well as by the financial support from the Austrian Academy of Sciences.