Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 68 Number 2: 64-75 - August 2006

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Architecture of air-filled caves with the karst of the Brooksville Ridge, west-central Florida
Lee J. Florea


Air-filled caves surveyed in the Brooksville Ridge of west-central Florida provide insight into the organization of karstic permeability within the unconfined portions of the Upper Floridan Aquifer. The morphology of the passages that compose these caves in geologically young, high-permeability limestones is strikingly different from caves found in ancient carbonates far from the influence of the coast. Cave passages in west-central Florida are laterally extensive and tiered. Principal horizons of cave development occur between +3 m and +5 m, +12 m and +15 m, and +20 m and +22 m above modern sea level. The primary guide of cave passage orientations within these cave levels is widespread fractures oriented approximately NE-SW and NW-SE. Cave passages of human dimensions form at the intersection of the laterally extensive cavities and fractures and often acquire a characteristic plus-sign shape. The walls of cave passages in west-central Florida are porous and complex, with small-scale solution features such as pockets and tafoni structures extending into the host bedrock. Additionally, these cave passages often end in blind pockets, ever-narrowing fissures, sediment fills, and collapses. The passages do not appear to represent an integrated system of conduits between aquifer inputs and outputs.

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