The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 57 Number 1: 31-42 - June 1995

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Speleothems of Aerosol Origin
Alexander B. Klimchouk, Vladimir M. Nasedkin, and Kimberley I. Cunningham


Peculiarities of morphology, structure, and restricted occurrence of some types of gypsum speleothems (crystals, rims, hollow "stalagmites") have been studied from caves of the Western Ukraine, Kugitang Range (Turkmenistan), and Guadallupe Mountains (USA). All of these speleothems seem to be formed by precipitation from aerosols controlled by air flow patterns. Enhanced radioactivity of caves and high ionization of the cave air seem to be the major prerequisites for autochthonous cave aerosol formation. As a result of radioactive decay and the impact of alpha particles on condensation aerosols, aeroions of chemical compounds and solid aerosols are formed. Mechanisms of transport and precipitation of aerosol material to produce the above formations are suggested. We conclude that many subaerial speleothems are of aerosol genesis.

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