Sulfuric Acid Caves of the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming

  • Margaret V. Palmer
  • Arthur N. PalmerEmail author
  • Donald G. Davis
Part of the Cave and Karst Systems of the World book series (CAKASYWO)


The Bighorn Basin of Wyoming is a region of thermal springs and caves, some with lethal levels of H2S and CO2. It also contains many productive oil wells. In one of these caves, “sulfuric acid speleogenesis” was first recognized and documented in North America by Egemeier in 1973. He proposed that most of the cave dissolution was subaerial and the result of H2S oxidation to H2SO4. Later studies by microbiologists have refined his measurements and show that much of the H2SO4 is generated in the stream by sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, by the process of “microbial sulfuric acid speleogenesis.” Other caves with similar chemistry are known in the region, but they have only been partly explored because of the locally high sulfide concentrations in their atmospheres.


Sulfuric acid speleogenesis Petroleum reservoirs Sulfur Sulfur-oxidizing bacteria 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret V. Palmer
    • 1
  • Arthur N. Palmer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Donald G. Davis
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesState University of New YorkOneontaUSA
  2. 2.DenverUSA

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