Bulletin of the National Speleological Society - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 31 Number 4: 97-111- October 1969

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Origin of Caves in Eastern New York as Related to Unconfined Groundwater Flow
Stephen Jay Egemeier


Caverns are linear rather than planar features. They form at the intersections of flow concentration with zones of solvent concentration. Surfaces of flow concentration are bedding planes, joints and fautls. Zones of solvent concentration are the top of a limestone bed and the upper phreatic zone within a limestone.

New York caverns have developed along the intersections of faults, joints, and bedding with the upper phreatic zone. Faults, joints and bedding each determine a particular type of passage development. The influence of the upper phreatic zone is shown by the gently sloping floors and the accordant stream junctions found in New Youk caves.

Karst development in New York seems to be a continuing process. As the limestones were exposed an integrated drainage system within the limestone developed along fractures intersecting the upper phreatic zone. Simultaneously, "cutters" (solutionally enlarged joints; Howard, 1963), developed on the surface along the same fractures. Occasionally, a conneciton between the surface "cutter" system and the cave would develop. In some cases, filled passages may be reopened; in others, they are bypassed. Karst develeopment may be a continuing process of change and adjustment that operates in soluble rocks from the time they are exposed until they are destroyed.

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