Structural Settings and Hypogenic Flow Paths for Three Colorado Caves

  • R. Mark MaslynEmail author
  • Harvey R. DuChene
  • Frederick G. Luiszer
Part of the Cave and Karst Systems of the World book series (CAKASYWO)


Colorado, a state with diverse geology and high topographic relief, contains several significant hypogene cave systems. Three are described here: the Orient Mine Cave System, Cave of the Winds, and Glenwood Caverns. All are located near present thermal springs, which help to determine the chemistry of the cave-forming water. The Orient Mine Caves were encountered during mining operations to extract limonite ore for the manufacture of steel. The ore follows the bedding, but hypogene cave galleries also cut across bedding and extend upward as domes. The galleries were formed by warm water rising along the San Luis fault and mixing with cool recharge from nearby mountains. Cave of the Winds follows the plunge of an anticline and probably formed when water with high CO2 rose along faults and mixed with shallow meteoric water. At Glenwood Caverns, carbonic acid in rising thermal water is responsible for most speleogenetic dissolution, but some dry parts of the cave have a sulfuric acid overprint.


Geologic structure Thermal springs CO2 Limonite H2



Several individuals and organizations contributed to the preparation of this chapter. All caves described here are privately owned, and their owners graciously provided access and information. Norm Thompson provided copies of the survey notes and maps of the Orient Mine caves, and Paul Burger contributed a version of his Cave of the Winds survey map specifically formatted for this article. Donald Davis provided information on the Orient Mine caves from his explorations in 1961 and 1986. He and Richard Rhinehart provided references to articles published in Rocky Mountain Caving, as well as helpful comments on early drafts of this chapter. Arthur and Margaret Palmer contributed valuable feedback and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Mark Maslyn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Harvey R. DuChene
    • 2
  • Frederick G. Luiszer
    • 3
  1. 1.LittletonUSA
  2. 2.Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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