Vertical zonation of the speleogenetic space
France Šušteršič - (28/2,1999)
The point of this paper is to demonstrate that not only the spatial domain where underground karst phenomena are being systematically transformed exist but also that this knowledge makes the role of caves within the geospeleological space/time more consistent. A true cave is any underground karst feature resulting from mass removal, regardless of its dimensions provided that the trajectory of the formative water passes through the cave and that the mass is removed in liquid phase (solution). Speleogenetic space is defined as that portion of the Earth's crust within which karst caverns may be formed. Thus, a karstified rock mass is defined as activated speleogenetic space. Due to the effects of denudation and watertable lowering, as the time passes a single cave seems to move upwards through speleogentic space, until it reaches the surface. The denudational logic of the karst surface is vertical, and the rock suffers disintegration throughout the thickness of its outermost layers. The same argument applies also to in-rock features. Consequently, the idea of the speleothanatic zone is introduced. Within it all of the rock is attacked, on any possible surface, and the final result is its complete annihilation. It may be expected that all structures, of any origin, that expose the rock surface to contact with aggressive water, will evolve via some "speleothanatic" progression. It is demonstrated that three vertical zones of specific formative/de-formative processes exist within speleogenetic space.