The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 39 Number 1: 9-12 - January 1977

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Lineaments and the Origin of Caves in the Cumberland Plateau of Alabama
James R. Wilson


Caves occurring in the horizontal limestones of the Cumberland Plateau in northern Alabama are classified as "simple" or "complex", based on factors of size, depth, and multi-level and parallel passage development. Complex caves are deep caves, by definition, but simple caves are also considered to be deep if there is 100 ft of vertical development in a horizontal distance of 200 ft. The locations of these caves are examined relative to nine lineaments visible on aerial photographs and satellite imagery of the area. The predominant trends of NW-SE and N-S are visible in the lineaments and in the orientation of re-entrant valleys of the Plateau.

Location of springs and caves along lineaments is attributable to greater solution along the zones of fracturing. This is particularly true at lineament intersections, where cross-fracturing occurs. Simple caves may form anywhere as a result of normal jointing and rock solubility. In areas of moderate to high relief, (a) deep simple caves form along lineaments and (b) complex caves form at the intersection of lineaments. In areas of low relief resulting from solutional activity, remnants of caves and other evidence of karstification are found along lineaments.

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