Sulfides in the Mammoth Cave Area, Kentucky

  • Rickard A. OlsonEmail author
Part of the Cave and Karst Systems of the World book series (CAKASYWO)


The Mammoth Cave area is best known for its epigenic caves. However, the area also contains examples formed or modified by sulfide-rich brines, some associated with petroleum. These include hydrogen sulfide in shallow aquifers generated by reduction in gypsum and anhydrite beds and nodules a few tens of meters beneath the lowest cave passages in Mammoth Cave; sulfides generated in oil reservoirs located in structural traps; and rare sulfide seeps intruding into the cave system that cause local dissolution and a proliferation of cave biota. A highly acidic stream enters at least one cave in the region, and although its effect is subdued by nearby sources of meteoric water, it demonstrates the potential for significant hypogene cave development in the region. Oxidation of iron sulfide inclusions in the host limestones has produced weathering rinds and minor solutional effects on cave passages.


Mammoth Cave Hydrogen sulfide Hydrocarbons Hypogenic seeps Biota 



Many thanks to Art and Peg Palmer, Horton Hobbs III, and Rickard Toomey III for help with the fieldwork, and to Kurt Helf for reviewing this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cave CityUSA

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