Speleothems show an array of shapes. Flowstones are commonly tabular sheet-like deposits, which cover cave floors and walls. They can procure detailed information about past hydrogeological conditions through their morphology, geochemical composition and stratigraphic properties, which in turn are related to the climate conditions at the surface. This is possible if the climate and environmental factors controlling the formation of these deposits are well understood. In Bossea Cave (north-east Italy), we have investigated highly symmetrical wavy flowstones that have never been described in detail before. These deposits show a cyclical repetition of sloped and sub-vertical layers, with knickpoints migrating downslope. This paper investigates the origin of these peculiar carbonate deposits, using: i) terrestrial laser scanning surveys; ii) petrographic observations; iii) oxygen and carbon stable isotope analyses; iv) hydrochemical monitoring data of feeding waters. According to these analyses, we have generated a genetic model that demonstrates: 1) laminar flow of CaCO3–rich water prevails during the deposition of the flowstone; in accordance, the final flowstone architecture does not appear to be influenced by random irregularities of the underlying bedrock substrate. 2) The peculiar morphology is inherited by ripples occurring in the flowing water films during carbonate deposition, which trigger the precipitation of regularly spaced CaCO3 deposits along the bedrock slopes. Because of these ripple-induced initial deposits, calcite then deposits as sloped and sub-vertical layers, giving rise to a wavy-like morphology. 3) Wavy calcite layers are only deposited after heavy rainfall events occurred within two to four consecutive rainy days (10 to 20 mm/hour during rainfall peaks; average rates between 3.5 and 7.0 mm/hour); in contrast, calcite deposition cannot occur during low rainfall events (less than 5 mm/hour during rainfall peaks, average rates around 0.8 mm/hour). We therefore propose that the studied wavy flowstones are hydroclimatic indicators, testifying the occurrence of flashy type recharge related to heavy rainfall events. Similar deposits could record these same hydro-climatic conditions in other karst areas. In recent decades, storms have caused more frequent flooding in highly populated Mediterranean areas, especially in Italy. Wavy flowstones may offer a new archive to gain a better understanding of the long-term dynamics of intense precipitation events and, thus, help to improve future climate scenarios.

Genesis of wavy carbonate flowstone deposits in Bossea Cave (North Italy) and their hydroclimatic significance / Columbu, Andrea; Nannoni, Alessia; Grasso, Nives; Dabove, Paolo; Fiorucci, Adriano; Vigna, Bartolomeo; Bertagni, Matteo B.; Camporeale, Carlo; Forti, Paolo; De Waele, Jo; Spötl, Christoph. - In: CATENA. - ISSN 0341-8162. - STAMPA. - 214:(2022), p. 106294. [10.1016/j.catena.2022.106294]

Genesis of wavy carbonate flowstone deposits in Bossea Cave (North Italy) and their hydroclimatic significance

Grasso, Nives;Dabove, Paolo;Fiorucci, Adriano;Vigna, Bartolomeo;Camporeale, Carlo;
2022

Abstract

Speleothems show an array of shapes. Flowstones are commonly tabular sheet-like deposits, which cover cave floors and walls. They can procure detailed information about past hydrogeological conditions through their morphology, geochemical composition and stratigraphic properties, which in turn are related to the climate conditions at the surface. This is possible if the climate and environmental factors controlling the formation of these deposits are well understood. In Bossea Cave (north-east Italy), we have investigated highly symmetrical wavy flowstones that have never been described in detail before. These deposits show a cyclical repetition of sloped and sub-vertical layers, with knickpoints migrating downslope. This paper investigates the origin of these peculiar carbonate deposits, using: i) terrestrial laser scanning surveys; ii) petrographic observations; iii) oxygen and carbon stable isotope analyses; iv) hydrochemical monitoring data of feeding waters. According to these analyses, we have generated a genetic model that demonstrates: 1) laminar flow of CaCO3–rich water prevails during the deposition of the flowstone; in accordance, the final flowstone architecture does not appear to be influenced by random irregularities of the underlying bedrock substrate. 2) The peculiar morphology is inherited by ripples occurring in the flowing water films during carbonate deposition, which trigger the precipitation of regularly spaced CaCO3 deposits along the bedrock slopes. Because of these ripple-induced initial deposits, calcite then deposits as sloped and sub-vertical layers, giving rise to a wavy-like morphology. 3) Wavy calcite layers are only deposited after heavy rainfall events occurred within two to four consecutive rainy days (10 to 20 mm/hour during rainfall peaks; average rates between 3.5 and 7.0 mm/hour); in contrast, calcite deposition cannot occur during low rainfall events (less than 5 mm/hour during rainfall peaks, average rates around 0.8 mm/hour). We therefore propose that the studied wavy flowstones are hydroclimatic indicators, testifying the occurrence of flashy type recharge related to heavy rainfall events. Similar deposits could record these same hydro-climatic conditions in other karst areas. In recent decades, storms have caused more frequent flooding in highly populated Mediterranean areas, especially in Italy. Wavy flowstones may offer a new archive to gain a better understanding of the long-term dynamics of intense precipitation events and, thus, help to improve future climate scenarios.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11583/2962071