Projects Detail

Hypogene water-rock interaction and speleogenesis

Hypogene water-rock interaction and speleogenesis (FWF, P213660), duration 2009-2012
P.i.: C. Spötl
Co-p.i.: Y. Dublyansky
External collaborators: Wolfgang Müller (Royal Holloway University of London), Norbert Pfeiffer and Andreas Roncat (Technical University Vienna)

Stable isotope and trace elements alteration. The deep-seated, commonly thermal water can move through the rock and dissolve it, carving a hypogene cave. At some point in time water may become non-aggressive with respect to the host rock. Cave enlargement will stop, but water-rock interaction may continue producing in some cases alteration halos in the cave walls. To study these halos we drilled holes into the bedrock and analyzed the stable isotope composition and the trace-element distribution in the cores.

Fluid-inclusion studies of cave minerals. In some hypogene caves water deposits speleothems, which commonly contain fluid inclusions. Analyses of these inclusions provide information of palaeowater, such as its temperature, salinity, and isotopic composition. This information is indispensable for understanding the ancient hypogene karst systems.

Morphology of hypogene caves. Hypogene caves commonly have morphologies, which are distinct from that of "normal" caves. Differences in morphology can range in scale from a cave system down to the micro-relief of the cave walls. Documentation of these complex 3D features is a challenge. We approach this problem by employing terrestrial laser scanning (in collaboration with the Technical University of Vienna) to create high-resolution, full-3D digital models of caves, on which the cm-scale features can be studied. See Roncat et at. (2011).