Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 60 Number 1: 39-43 - April 1998

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Gypsum Trays in Torgac Cave, New Mexico
Linda M. Doran and Carol A. Hill


The gypsum trays in Torgac Cave, New Mexico are only the second reported occurrence of this speleothem type in the world. They differ from most other (carbonate or gypsum) trays in that they often have stalactites growing on their flat undersides (thereby forming “claw” shapes), and in that they can exhibit multiple tray growth in the vertical direction on a single stalactite. This deviation from “normal” tray development indicates that for gypsum trays to form, equilibrium must be reached between infiltration and evaporation of water. If infiltration exceeds evaporation, then gypsum stalactites (“claws”) will form; if evaporation exceeds infiltration, then trays (with flat-bottomed surfaces) will form. Drier climatic conditions during the Holocene (last 10,000 years) may have influenced the growth of gypsum trays in Torgac Cave.

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