Bulletin of the National Speleological Society - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 33 Number 3: 105-114 - July 1971

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Characteristics of the Underground Floodplain
William K. Jones


Open channel flow through clastic sediment deposits in limestone solution conduits often exhibits characteristics of a surface stream flowing in an alluviam filled valley. An undergound floodplain of aggradation is formed by the deposition of clastic sediments in a solution conduit. This creates a perched, "free-surface" stream flowing in an alluvium filled channel. Various reaches of West Virginia caves provide examples of the classic forms of alluvial stream channel development: braided streams, sine-generated meander curves, river bars, and deep v-shaped canyons. Solutional enlargement of the conduit can occur only where the water can reach unprotected limestone. Therefore, horizonatal development is most likely on the outside of meander bends, and vertical enlargement may assume an alluvial pattern if the stream downcutting through the alluvial fill reaches bedrock.

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