Evidence for Regional Hypogene Speleogenesis in Murcia (SE Spain)


Link to Full Text

Download Full Text

Publication Date


Publication Title

Hypogene Karst Regions and Caves of the World


Signs of hypogenic speleogenesis have been detected in a number of caves of the Murcia Region (SE Spain), in some cases revealing active speleogenetic mechanisms rarely observed in hypogene cavities elsewhere in the world. Here, we investigate the hypogenic morphologies and speleothems of four caves in this region, namely Sima de la Higuera, Sima Destapada, Cueva del Agua and Cueva del Puerto. Also, other ten caves showing evidence for hypogenic speleogenesis has been preliminary described. Processes related to ancient and current hydrothermal activity, the discordance of permeability structures in the adjacent beds and the spatial arrangement of the regional hydrogeology have given rise to maze patterns and typical subaqueous hypogenic morphologies. These include spongework mazes, rising wall channels and shafts, feeders, bubble trails, solution pockets, megascallops and rising of chains cupolas, among others. Carbonic acid speleogenesis is responsible for the formation of most of these cave features; however, evidence of sulfuric acid speleogenesis (SAS) has been observed in Cueva del Puerto and Sima del Pulpo, which host massive secondary gypsum deposits. Speleothems typically linked to hydrothermal water upwelling and CO2 degassing close to the water table are present in most of these cavities, including folia, calcite spar crystals, cave clouds, calcite rafts deposits and several types of cave raft cones. The wide variety of hypogenic speleogenesis indicators and speleothems whose genesis is unconnected to meteoric water seepage reveals that the hydrothermal field of the Murcia Region hosts one of the densest active hypogenic subterranean networks in the world.


Hypogenic caves, Hydrothermal speleogenesis, Hydrothermal speleothems

Document Type


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)