Unlike the spectacular speleothems that can often be found in numerous caves, vermiculations are rather unassuming formations, whose origin and evolution still subject of several heated debates. In order to provide a quantitative basis for the understanding of the nature and evolution of vermiculations in karst environments, the geochemical properties of one of the most important karst systems of southern Italy, the Pertosa-Auletta Cave, were studied through a comprehensive approach which included elemental, mineralogical and microscopy analyses. The chemical element abundances, mineral composition and microstructure of the vermiculations covering the entire range of morphologies and colours observed in the case-study cave were investigated, thus providing the first quantitative record of these traits. The vermiculations presented exceptional diversity in their morphology, colour, chemical and mineral composition, with it being due to exogenous determinants such as the deposition of stream sediments or organic matter as well as the development of photoautotrophic communities. They were invariably composed of calcite, associated to quartz as well as clays and other secondary minerals, the formation of which may be biologically mediated. This occurrence, and the evidences of microbial activity observed through dissolution traces, support the possible involvement of biogenic processes in vermiculation development.

Vermiculations from karst caves: The case of Pertosa-Auletta system (Italy)

Addesso R.;Bellino A.;Baldantoni D.
2019

Abstract

Unlike the spectacular speleothems that can often be found in numerous caves, vermiculations are rather unassuming formations, whose origin and evolution still subject of several heated debates. In order to provide a quantitative basis for the understanding of the nature and evolution of vermiculations in karst environments, the geochemical properties of one of the most important karst systems of southern Italy, the Pertosa-Auletta Cave, were studied through a comprehensive approach which included elemental, mineralogical and microscopy analyses. The chemical element abundances, mineral composition and microstructure of the vermiculations covering the entire range of morphologies and colours observed in the case-study cave were investigated, thus providing the first quantitative record of these traits. The vermiculations presented exceptional diversity in their morphology, colour, chemical and mineral composition, with it being due to exogenous determinants such as the deposition of stream sediments or organic matter as well as the development of photoautotrophic communities. They were invariably composed of calcite, associated to quartz as well as clays and other secondary minerals, the formation of which may be biologically mediated. This occurrence, and the evidences of microbial activity observed through dissolution traces, support the possible involvement of biogenic processes in vermiculation development.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11386/4734504
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