Original paper

Caves and mineral deposits

Forti, P.; Onac, B.P.

Abstract

Caves are among Earth's most important minerogenetic environments and they host over 350 minerals, some of them new for science. The presence of such an unexpected richness is a direct consequence of the variety of rocks traversed by water or other fluids before entering a cave and the sediments therein. In the last 50 years, systematic studies defined the genetic mechanisms for nearly all speleothem types and the physico-chemical processes involved in their deposition. Speleothems are extremely important from a scientific standpoint as they proved to be the best archives to reconstruct Quaternary climates, environments, and seismic activity. Up to present rather all cave scientific research involved calcium carbonate speleothems. Yet, recently it has been showed that other cave minerals may equally be important in paleoenvironmental and climate dynamics studies. Therefore it is fundamental to protect all cave resources, especially the fragile speleothems that formed over hundreds of thousands of years. Sampling protocols for research purposes must consider nondestructive techniques, and if not possible, it should always be kept to an absolute minimum.

Keywords

morphologypaleoenvironmentgenetic mechanismsspeleothemspaleo-seismicitycave mineralspaleo-climatekarst