Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 67 Number 1: 3-13 - April 2005

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Genetic processes of cave minerals in volcanic environments: An overview
Paolo Forti


Volcanic caves have been considered of little mineralogic interest until recent years. As a consequence, very few papers have been printed on this topic in the past. In reality volcanic cavities are a very favorable environment for the development of different minerogenetic processes. Cave minerals actually present in volcanic environments constitute up to 40% of secondary chemical deposits found in all the caves of the world, and 35 of them (corresponding to ~10% of the actually known cave minerals) are restricted to such a environment. In the present paper, the six minerogenetic mechanisms active in the volcanic caves (degassing, solubilization, alteration, karst process, biogenic activity, phase change) are described following the decrease of cave temperature. The genesis of some of the most important secondary chemical deposits is discussed and a tentative list of the most interesting volcanic caves for hosted speleothems is given.

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