Review on the use of natural cave speleothems as palaeoseismic or neotectonics indicators

Éric Gilli


Collapses that affect cave speleothems have frequently been attributed to earthquakes, although this has not been proved. Observations after an earthquake and laboratory tests indicate that only slender speleothems break under coseismic solicitation. Other causes as subsidence, decompression and creeping of ice or cave sediments explain most of the breaks. Tectonics is also a major cause of speleothems breakages and it is possible to detect minute movements of faults. It seems possible to make the difference between brutal coseismic movements and aseismic slow ones. However, the interpretation is often difficult, as the damage can also be caused by gravity tectonics or glacitectonics.