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Publication Date

January 2002

Publication Title

Association for Mexican Cave Studies Bulletin

Volume Number



Sistema Huautla, in 2002 the world’s seventh deepest cave, at 1,475 meters, is one of the most complex vertical drainage systems in the world. The focus of this research was to study the geology, karst hydrology, and speleology of the Sistema Huautla cave system. Literature review and subsequent field mapping identified the geologic formations and tectonic structures that Sistema Huautla and tributary caves are developed within. Structural geology studies within the aquifer indicate that base-level conduits in the mapped portion of the aquifer are formed along a major normal fault system called the Sistema Huautla Fault. Conduits in other sections of Sistema Huautla are formed along the strike and dip of steeply dipping bedding planes. The trend of the cave system is north-south along the strike of steeply dipping limestone beds and the Sistema Huautla Fault system. The karst hydrology was studied by using non- toxic dyes to trace groundwater flow paths within the aquifer. The direction of groundwater flow in the karst groundwater basin was determined by dye tracing Sistema Huautla to its resurgence to the south. Additional dye-trace studies established flow paths from tributary caves to confluences deep within the cave system. The tributary caves Nita He and Nita Nashi were determined to have 1,100-meter-deep flow paths before intersecting the Scorpion Sump in Sistema Huautla.

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