The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 52 Number 1: 99-103 - December 1990

A publication of the National Speleological Society

The Influence of Seasonal Changes of Cave Microclimate Upon the Genesis of Gypsum Formations in Caves
Vladimir A. Maltsev


Many anemolites (wind-controlled speleothems) appear to be examples of short period deposition ("ephemerae"), particularly associated with seasonal reversals of airflow. Gypsum frostwork in Jurinskaya gypsum cave, Podolia, Ukraine, grew when external air flowed in during the summer and relative humidity was 70-90%; it was partly dissolved when cave air flowed out in the winter, with relative humidity rising very close to 100%. Maximum accumulation in one season was 7 mm. Frostwork only occurs close to present or past cave entrances and thus is a guide to exploration. Gypsum frostwork occurs in the limestone maze caves of Kugitangtau Ridge, Turkmenia. Twenty-six studied sites all lay within 400 m of an entrance, where relative humidities could be seasonally depressed to 60-70% or below. Anemolites of calcite in the same caves also form in the deeper interiors where relative humidity does not fall below 90-95%.

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