Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 63 Number 3: 83-90 -December 2001

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Morphologic and dimensional linkage between recently deposited speleothems and drip water from Browns Folly Mine, Wiltshire, England
James U.L. Baldini


Dimensional measurements of juvenile speleothems from Browns Folly Mine, Wiltshire, SW England, indicate that rapid drips preferentially deposit calcite on the stalagmite rather than the stalactite. The ratio of stalagmite volume to stalactite volume, termed a speleothem volume ratio (SVR), increases with increasing drip rate. Rapid drip rates result in a reduced period of CO2 degassing on the ceiling, and consequently less calcite deposition and smaller stalactites. However, extremely low drip rates appear to have an insufficient flux of HCO3- and Ca2+ to deposit significant amounts of calcite on the roof of the cave. The drip rate most conducive to stalactite deposition is 0.02 mL/min. A positive feedback mechanism resulting in a preferential increase in calcite deposition on the stalactite through time is hypothesized to exist. The relationship between stalagmite basal diameter and drip rate is very significant (r2 = 0.44, p = 6.31 x 10-14, n = 99). It may, therefore, be possible to reconstruct paleo-drip rates and subsequently infer paleoclimate.

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