• Cryogenic ridges: a new speleothem type
  • Cryogenic ridges are seasonally precipitated in Sohodoalele Mici Cave
  • The isotopic composition is different in calcite ridges and the inner stalactite
  • The formation of cryogenic ridges is discussed


Cryogenic cave carbonates have been described from several formerly or presently glaciated karst caves. In most of these occurrences, they precipitated as loose grains or aggregates with various morphologies and sizes. Here, we report on a new speleothem type (cryogenic ridges) identified in Sohodoalele Mici Cave (SW Romania) within a large chamber near the entrance shaft. This study was motivated by the presence of a network of calcite ridges over the stalactites’ surface and by the observation that during winter, these speleothems are covered by a thin ice layer. The higher δ18O (−3.5 to –1‰) and δ13C (0 to 7‰) values found in the calcite ridges relative to δ18O (–7.5 to –4‰) and δ13C (–9 to –2‰) values of calcite from the inner stalactite indicate that the ridges are of cryogenic origin and formed during relatively rapid carbonate precipitation associated with evaporative cooling and freezing of the water. Four U-series ages suggest that the stalactites with ridges formed during cold winters of the Holocene, when cave air temperatures dropped below freezing.



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