• Carbonic acid speleogenesis enhanced due to ankerite oxidation
  • Solution flat ceilings and inward-inclined smooth facets in a limestone cave
  • Solution facets developed in flat-roofed passages as well as in vaulted halls and passages
  • The Brunhes/Matuyama boundary and Jaramillo magnetozone recorded in cave sediments
  • Slow depositional rate of cave sediments determined from magnetostratigraphy data


The Ochtiná Aragonite Cave (Western Carpathians) represents an unique natural phenomenon. It originated under particular lithological and hydrogeological conditions of the Ochtiná Karst in which several isolated lenses of Paleozoic crystalline limestone (marbles), partly metasomatically altered to ankerite, are enclosed by phyllites. Meteoric water seepage through non-carbonate rocks dissolved limestone and caused the oxidation of ankerite to Fe oxyhydroxides. Carbon dioxide produced during ankerite oxidation enhanced limestone dissolution. The maze cave consists of parallel fault-controlled linear passages and chambers interconnected by transverse horizontal passages. Phreatic and epiphreatic solution morphologies resulted from slowly moving or standing water. These include flat ceilings (Laugdecken), facets (planes of repose, Facetten), lateral notches, convection ceiling cupola-shaped depressions, and spongework-like hollows. Flat ceilings were developed in several altitude positions, each of them probably closely below the slightly oscillated water table. Primary phreatic cupola-shaped depressions, truncated by flat ceilings, represent relics of the oldest cavities (pre-Quaternary? to Early Pleistocene). Inward-sloping smooth facets were not developed only in passages with flat ceilings, but also in the passages and halls with a vaulted ceiling. The asymmetrical shape of cusped depressions above the facets were documented in detail by a high-resolution cave topography with terrestrial laser scanning and digital photogrammetry. Middle–Late Pleistocene accumulation phases, identified by magnetostratigraphy of cave sediments and U-series dating of speleothems, are associated with phreatic and later epiphreatic development. The deposition on the bottom bedrock began before 1.8 Ma. The Brunhes/Matuyama boundary (0.773 Ma) and Jaramillo magnetozone (0.990–1.071 Ma) were recorded in the profile in the Oválna chodba Passage. Slow depositional rate (~0.09 cm/kyr) calculated from magnetostratigraphy resulted from slow water movement in confined conditions in marbles completely enclosed by phyllites and no direct relation to the surface. Only occasionally turbid water was loaded in extremely fine-grained infiltration material and autochthonous Fe oxyhydroxides. The depositional rate in Mn-rich layer was much slower (~0.03 cm/kyr). Additional U-series dating confirmed that old aragonite generations (with ages about 500–450 ka and 143–121 ka) were partly corroded by repeated floods during Late Pleistocene humid episodes. Aragonite younger than 13.5 ka is not corroded.



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