Hypogene Speleogenesis in the Piedmont Crimea Range


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Publication Date

January 2009


Intense development of the theory and criteria for identification of hypogenic speleogenesis during the past few years has stimulated re-interpretation of karst phenomena in many regions of the world. Recent research strongly suggests that solution features in the Piedmont Range of the Crimean Mountains, previously believed to be the result of hypergene (epigene) karstification, were in fact formed in a hypogenic environment due to ascending transverse flow in a stratified artesian system. Tectonically, the Piedmont Range of Crimea is an edge of the Scythian Plate, uplifted and partially eroded along the regional fault separating the plate from the folded region of the Crimea Mountains. The Cretaceous and Paleogene sequence dips 5 to 20o to north and north-west, where it plunges beneath a Neogene cover. It is exposed within the Piedmont Range as a series of distinct cuestas generally facing south-east. Karst features are represented by 26 caves and abundant, diverse solution forms at the cuesta escarps. Most of the karst develops in two distinct limestone units of Paleocene (Danian) and Eocene (Lutetian) but some are present in the underlying Maastrichtian unit of Cretaceous. There are strong and systematic evidences that the caves have a hypogenic origin and that most of the solution features along the scarps are remnants of morphologies of hypogenically karstified fractures, the walls of which are now exposed due to block-fall retreat of the scarp faces. The features in various beds demonstrate strong lithostratigraphic control in their distribution and are vertically stacked into transverse complexes. Caves are fracture-controlled, linear, or crude maze clusters, demonstrating the complete suite of morphologies indicative of hypogenic origin. Isolated cavities, expressed in the contemporary scarps as grottoes, niches and as zones of spongework porosity, developed where laterally conductive beds of higher initial porosity were crossed by vertical fractures that once conducted rising fluids from an underlying re


Hypogene, Speleogenesis, Piedmont Crimea Range