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Speleogenesis and Evolution of Karst Aquifers
Determining the beginning and the end of the life of a karst system is a substantial problem. In contrast to most of living systems development of a karst system can be „frozen“ and then rejuvenated several times (polycyclic and polygenetic nature). The principal problems may include precise definition of the beginning of karstification (e.g. inception in speleogenesis) and the manner of preservation of the products of karstification. Karst evolution is particularly dependent upon the time available for process evolution and on the geographical and geological conditions of the exposure of the rock. The longer the time, the higher the hydraulic gradient and the larger the amount of solvent water entering the karst system, the more evolved is the karst. In general, stratigraphic discontinuities, i.e. intervals of nondeposition (disconformities and unconformities), directly influence the intensity and extent of karstification. The higher the order of discontinuity under study, the greater will be the problems of dating processes and events. The order of unconformities influences the stratigraphy of the karst through the amount of time available for subaerial processes to operate. The end of karstification can also be viewed from various perspectives. The final end occurs at the moment when the host rock together with its karst phenomena is completely eroded/denuded. In such cases, nothing remains to be dated. Karst forms of individual evolution stages (cycles) can also be destroyed by erosion, denudation and abrasion without the necessity of the destruction of the whole sequence of karst rocks. Temporary and/or final interruption of the karstification process can be caused by the fossilisation of karst due to loss of its hydrological function. Such fossilisation can be caused by metamorphism, mineralisation, marine transgressions, burial by continental deposits or volcanic products, tectonic movements, climatic change etc. Known karst records for the 1 st and 2 nd orders of stratigraphic discontinuity cover only from 5 to 60 % of geological time. The shorter the time available for karstification, the greater is the likelihood that karst phenomena will be preserved in the stratigraphic record. While products of short-lived karstification on shallow carbonate platforms can be preserved by deposition during the immediately succeeding sea-level rise, products of more pronounced karstification can be destroyed by a number of different geomorphic processes. The longer the duration of subaerial exposure, the more complex are those geomorphic agents.
Karst, Speleogenesis, Dating methods, Geochronology
Bosák, Pavel, "Karst Processes from the Beginning to the End: How can They be Dated?" (2003). KIP Articles. 4794.