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Morphogenesis of the Postojna Basin karst periphery : dissertation
Astrid Švara, 2023, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: This thesis represents a karstological study on the drainage of the Postojna Basin. It focuses on a multidisciplinary approach, based on fieldwork, computer analyses and dating. The northern study area has the highest: doline density of 108 dolines/km2, number of contact karst features (i.e. 9), and number of collapse dolines (i.e. 19). It has three catchments. The Lokva cuts into the flysch ridges and sinks in the Predjama Cave System at the lowest point of the basin (i.e. 474 m a.s.l.). Between 37 selected caves, 14 were longer than 150 m. The Predjama Cave System was developed in 3 levels and the Postojna Cave System was developed in 2 levels. The vertical passages connecting them are deepest in the Predjama cave, where the vadose zone is up to 250 m deep. By the favourable ponor steepheads and 140 m deep vadose passages, the Hrušica Plateau shows a major uplift phase. The Postojna Cave System, Risovec blind valley and 17 collapse dolines indicate significant past hydrological changes. First, Nanoščica formed the Risovec blind valley, followed by Otoška jama, Tartarus, Male jame, and Artificial tunnel toward E/NE, forming the Vodni dol. At the same time, the ponor of Pivka shifted in the Postojnska jama (at present “Stara jama”), flowing towards N, forming Jeršanove doline. The successive subsidence of the erosional base and the Postojna karst uplift redirected the Nanoščica in Pivka. Now they sink into active parts of the Postojna cave at 511 m a.s.l. The eastern study area has the Unroofed cave Kriva dolina as a former ponor of Pivka. At present the area has springs and favourable (sub)vertical passages. The southern study area has the highest variety of contact karst features (i.e. 5). The Prestranški ravnik represents an aquifer with ponors and springs. It is separated from the Slavinski ravnik, by a flysch belt. In the southern study area, 10 caves were longer than 150 m among 49 selected caves. The Loza Cave System, a case study in Slavinski ravnik, is developed in 3 epiphreatic levels that followed two phases of tectonic uplift with a successive formation of diversion routes through 30-40 m deep vadose passages. The oldest upper cave level has sediments from at least the Gilbert Chron with CW rotations. U-Th dates from speleothems prove vadose speleogenesis before the cave ceiling denudation and collapse from 210 ka to 550 ka (≤1.2 Ma). The middle cave level has epiphreatic sediments at least in the Gauss Chron (i.e. 2.59-3.59 Ma) and reveals 35-38° CCW rotations. The allogenic sediments in the lower cave level show Brunhes and Matuyama Chrons (i.e. <0.78-2.58 Ma). We generally discussed ponor steepheads that develop on steepest slopes on the thrust/fault contact, while blind valleys and border depressions develop on normal stratigraphic contact with mildest slopes. The speleogenesis was mainly driven by relatively quick tectonic uplift, followed by vadose speleogenesis, with intermediate speleogenesis in the epiphreatic zone. Speleogenesis and contact karst features follow the subsidence of the water table, evidenced by cave levels, and active and relict features. Allogenic sediments are followed by speleothems as shift of caves between hydrological zones. The sequence of events repeated 2-3 times. The main local source of allogenic sediments is in the Postojna Basin, represented by the erosion of flysch rocks and alluvium. The mineralogical composition between catchments is similar with no significant change. The regional compressional-tectonic regime has significantly influenced the changes in the drainage of the Postojna Basin during the last 7 Ma, with different uplifts and drop of the karst water table. The major uplift was reflected by the change in the Nanoščica course from the Slavinski ravnik to the Postojna karst from S to N, presumably between 3.59 Ma and >1.77 Ma and represented the last important general shift in the drainage of the Postojna Basin.
Keywords: karst, contact karst, regional tectonic uplift, cave levels, shift from epiphreatic to vadose speleogenesis, Loza Cave System, Postojna drainage basin
Published in RUNG: 05.12.2023; Views: 769; Downloads: 53
.pdf Full text (29,89 MB)

Speleogenetic factors and processes in the karst conduits of Zagorska Mrežnica Spring Cave (Croatia)
Petra Kovač Konrad, 2018, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: Zagorska Mrežnica spring cave is in the Desmerice village, 7.59 km SW from the town of Ogulin. The coordinates of the entrance are X: 399563 m, Y: 5006974 m, and Z: 314 m (HTRS96). The cave system is positioned in the contact zone of Jurassic limestone and the thrust front composed of Triassic Dolomite. The karst drainage system has elements of point recharge through a set of ponors in the hinterland karst poljes and diffuse infiltration through numerous dolines on Velika Kapela Mountain. The karst of Ogulinsko Zagorje area and its epiphreatic and phreatic cave systems have been intensively explored for the last eight years, resulting in the mapping of 1134 m of submerged passages of the Zagorska Mrežnica spring cave. Until 2014 it was the longest mapped submerged system in Croatia explored by cave diving techniques only. Altogether, over 3.5 km of submerged passages in seven caves of Ogulinsko Zagorje (Zagorska Mrežnica spring cave, Spring of Rupečica, Ponor of Rupečica, Cave system Pećine-Veliko vrelo, Spring of Bistrac, Cave Zagorska Peć and Pit Klisura) were explored during 500 hours of diving over a ten-year period. The goal of the research was to determine speleogenetic factors and processes in phreatic conditions. A new methodology for mapping of cave cross-sections, microrelief forms, and structural elements was developed, sediment and petrographic analysis were done, hydrological analysis before and after the building of the accumulation lake Sabljaci, 48 cross-sections of the cave passaged and a 3D model of the cave system was created, water chemistry as well as geomorphological analysis was carried out. In the end, a simplified (modified) vulnerability assessment was also done. The results of my research showed that the distribution of the cave passages is a result of complex tectonic activities that are reflected in the orientation of cave passages. The general orientation of the measured fissures, measured during cave diving, show a dominance of a NWW-SEE direction but also the pattern of cave passages shows a significant dominance of the NE-SW orientation indicating the existence of multiple secondary traverse faults originating from main NW-SE faults. The morphology of the cave passages shows a transition between epiphreatic (possibly vadose) and phreatic phases as well as the presence of paragenetic developments in the ceiling. This indicates the existence of several epiphreatic (possibly vadose) and phreatic speleogenetic phases. The initial shape of the cross-sections was identified by sub-horizontal beds and bedding planes. The mapping of microrelief forms showed that the mechanical erosion was a very intensive process shaping the morphology of the cave passages. The sediment mineralogy coincides with the lithology of the catchment area, and the sub- angular grains reveal relatively short transport distances. Further analysis of the catchment area’s geomorphology and its relevance for the speleogenesis of Zagorska Mrežnica cave show influence of relief structures that have a Dinaric orientation (NW-SE) with cave structures and passage orientations, great relative relief, steep slopes on Velika Kapela, and flat areas of karst poljes dictate the allogenic and autogenic hydrological regime of the cave. A 3D model of the cave system reveals a relationship between the cave system and the landscape, as well as a possible connection with the nearby Zagorska Peć cave. The modified karst vulnerability assessment shows that the catchment area of Zagorska Mrežnica spring cave has a high vulnerability ranking, mainly due to high doline density and the potential large diffuse capacity of infiltration of pollutants.
Keywords: Ogulin Zagorje, karst, spring, speleogenesis, Zagorska Mrežnica spring cave
Published in RUNG: 02.03.2018; Views: 5032; Downloads: 198
.pdf Full text (5,26 MB)

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