Hypogenic Versus Epigenic Aspects of the Black Hills Caves, South Dakota

  • Arthur N. PalmerEmail author
Part of the Cave and Karst Systems of the World book series (CAKASYWO)


The Black Hills contain several extensive maze caves in the early Carboniferous Madison Limestone. They include Wind Cave and Jewel Cave, which are among the world’s longest and most complex. Their origin is debated, with diverse hypotheses ranging from artesian conditions to rising thermal water. Recent evidence indicates a polygenetic origin including early Carboniferous diagenesis and paleokarst; deep burial by Carboniferous–Cretaceous strata; re-exposure of the limestone by the Laramide Orogeny (early Paleogene); and major cave enlargement in the late Paleogene along old paleokarst zones. Cave enlargement depended mainly on diffuse recharge through overlying sandstone, mixing with lateral inflow through carbonate outcrops. Only a few of these processes were hypogenic, but recognizing them all helps to clarify the limits of that process.


Polygenetic caves Confined aquifer Paleokarst Diagenesis Mixing dissolution 



Thanks to the following people: My wife Peggy Palmer, collaboration on all field mapping and petrography; Victor Polyak (University of New Mexico), U/Pb dating; Jim Paces (US Geological Survey, Denver), U/Th dating and isotopic analysis; Dan Legnini (Argonne National Laboratory), X-ray fluorescence. Discussions of concepts: Dwight Deal, Mike Wiles, Derek Ford, Andy Long. Field assistance: Rod Horrocks, Marc Ohms, Jeri Frederick, Steve Baldwin, Herb and Jan Conn, Nathan Farrar, Rick Olson, Richard Zopf, Paula Provencio, Carl Bern, Jeff Hughes, Jennifer Back. Partial support was provided by the National Park Service, and the Research Foundation of State University of New York.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesState University of New YorkOneontaUSA

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