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Past surface conditions and speleogenesis as inferred from cave sediments in the Great Cave of Șălitrari Mountain (SW Romania)
Studia UBB Geologia
  • Cristina M Pușcaș, Department of Geology, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • Ciprian C Stremtan, Department of Geology, University of South Florida, USA
  • Ferenc Kristály, Department of Mineralogy and Petrology, University of Miskolc, Hungary

Abstract In one of the passages in the Great Cave of Șălitrari Mountain the floor is completely covered by an alluvial deposit at least 6 m in thickness, ranging from boulders, and cobbles, to sand and clay, topped by a layer of dry bat guano. Sediment and mineral samples collected from six profiles underwent broad analyses to determine their petrological and mineralogical makeup, grain-size distribution, and paleoclimatic significance. The complicated facies alternation suggests frequent changes in the former stream’s hydrological parameters, with frequent flooding, leading to the hypothesis that the climate was somewhat wetter than today. Both the mineralogical composition of the sediment (ranging from quartz, mica, gypsum, phosphates, and calcite to garnet, zircon, titanite, olivine, serpentine, tourmaline, sphalerite, pyrite/chalcopyrite, and feldspars) and the petrological composition of the larger clasts (limestone, sandstone, mudstone, granitoids, serpentinite, amphibolite, diorite, gneiss, quartzite, microconglomerate, and schist) ascribe the potential source rocks to an area with contrasting lithologies, such as amphibolites, felsic and basic metaigneous, and metasedimentary rocks, mixed with a variety of detritic rocks. These rock types are not entirely comprised by the catchment area of the modern Presacina Brook, thus implying that due either to hydrological conditions, or to changes in the base level caused by river down cutting or active tectonics, the former source area was much more extensive. Based on morphological and sedimentological criteria, the cave started under pipe-full flow conditions, and further evolved during a prolonged and complex vadose phase. Evidence to support the existence of hypogene conditions is also present. Once the underground stream left the cave and most of the sediment was removed, speleothem precipitation was initiated. In this contribution we put forward evidence that argue for an extra-basinal origin of some of the alluvial sediments, an uncommon fact documented in few cave environments so far.

Citation Information
Cristina M Pușcaș, Ciprian C Stremtan and Ferenc Kristály. "Past surface conditions and speleogenesis as inferred from cave sediments in the Great Cave of Șălitrari Mountain (SW Romania)" p. 51-57
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