Bulletin of the National Speleological Society - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 28 Number 3: 171-178 - October 1966

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Truncated Cave Passages and Terminal Breakdown in the Central Kentucky Karst
Roger W. Brucker


In the Flint Ridge and Mammoth Cave Systems in Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, truncated cave passages are segments of formerly continuous passages which have been terminated at one or both ends by a process of collapse. Valley erosion truncates an impermeable caprock, concentrating verticaly seeping water along specific areas of descent. Solution weakens the rock which collapses into cave passages. Terminal breakdowns are piles of rock debris which terminate passages as a result of this process of truncaton. Segments of formerly continuous passages have similar size, shape, elevation, alignment, and cross-section. Wall scallops indicate a former common direction of water flow. Segment ends are usually within a few hundred feet apart, though farther separations are within the known limits of continuous passages. Understanding of the process, and recognition of its results leads to reconstructions of past cave patterns essential to studies of cave genesis, and to the location of existing, but unknown passage segments.

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