The origin of erratic calcite speleothems in the Dangcheomul Cave (lava tube cave), Jeju Island, Korea

Kyung SikWoo
Jeong Chan Kim
Don Won Choi

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Dangcheomul Cave in Jeju Island, Korea, is a lava tube about 110 m long. The cave is located only a few meters below the surface under alkali basalt, and contains numerous and various calcite speleothems such as soda straws, stalactites, stalagmites, columns, cave corals, curtains, flowstones, rimstones, carbonate powders, and shelfstones. Carbonate sand dunes overlying the lava tube are responsible for the formation of calcite speleothems. The sand dunes were formed from the carbonate sediments transported from adjacent shallow seas and beaches, and are composed of mollusks, echinoderms, coralline algae, benthic foraminifers, bryozoans, etc. Oxygen isotopic compositions of some speleothems and cave water indicate that the spelothems have grown mostly by evaporation of cave water. Also, carbon isotopic compositions suggest that the majority of carbon was derived from overlying carbonates with a minor contribution of organic carbon from the overlying soil. Most speleothems in Dangcheomul Cave do not show typical morphology as can be commonly seen in limestone caves. These erratic forms imply a different mode of speleothem formation. High density of soda straws, stalactites, and columns as well as erratic morphology may also provide the evidence that the plant roots are responsible for their growth.