Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 62 Number 2: 75-79 - August 2000

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Post-speleogenetic erosion and its effect on cave development in the Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico and west Texas
Harvey R. DuChene and Ruben Martinez


The Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico and west Texas are a northeast-tilted fault block cut by canyons that increase in frequency and topographic relief from east to west. The processes of erosion and mass wasting have exposed more than 300 known caves, which range from systems like Lechuguilla Cave (>170 km) and Carlsbad Cavern (>49 km) in the east, to caves with less than 10 m of passage in the west. Erosion of the Capitan, Yates and Seven Rivers formations progressively removed more cave-bearing strata and destroyed more caves from east to west. It is likely that modern-day canyons in the central and western Guadalupe Mountains were once sites of long cave systems that have been truncated or destroyed by erosion and mass wasting.

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