Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 61 Number 3: 141-144 - December 1999

A publication of the National Speleological Society

A Speleogenic Origin for Five-Column Rock, Wisconsin?
Mick Day and Jeff Kueny


Five-Column Rock is among the most impressive of several notable fragile rock formations in southwestern Wisconsin’s unglaciated Driftless Area. Consisting of a basal sandstone plinth, a set of columns enclosing “windows”, and a tabular dolostone summit, the entire structure is over 6 m high. The Rock has not been previously studied in detail, and its origin has only generally been ascribed to weathering and eolian processes. Closer examination suggests that the feature originated as a phreatic cave developed in carbonate rocks transitional between the underlying Cambrian sandstone and the overlying Ordovician dolostones. The morphology of the feature, its stratigraphic context and its relationship to extant cave passage in the adjoining interfluvial ridge all point to a speleogenic origin, which may have broader significance for the development of similar features throughout the region.

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