An Overview of the Hypogene Caves of Sicily
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Karst in Sicily develops in both Messinian gypsum and Mesozoic or Tertiary limestone rocks. Caves are also found in the basalts of Mount Etna. Except for some rare cases, until recently most caves developed in limestone were considered to be of epigenetic origin. The discovery of gypsum in some of these caves, and especially detailed morphological studies, have allowed defining a hypogenic origin for a dozen of caves up to now. In some of these, the hypogenic evidences are very clear, while others remain in doubt because of the widespread presence of well-developed condensation-corrosion morphologies not necessarily related to hydrothermal fluids. This paper reports the present knowledge of hypogenic caves in the Island of Sicily.
KeywordsHypogenic caves Sicily Sulfuric acid speleogenesis Condensation-corrosion Wall sculpturing
The authors wish to thank cavers from ANS Le Taddarite of Palermo, for the support in the field activities. We also wish to thank Augusto Auler and Alexander Klimchouk for their constructive comments that have significantly contributed to the improvement of this paper. The access to Grotta dell’Acqua Mintina was possible thanks to Mr. Giovanni Stuppia and Dr. Rosario Ruggieri.
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