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Small-scale Terraces and Isolated Rimstone Pools on Stalagmites in Caves Exhibit Striking Similarity to Large-scale Terrace Landscapes at Hot Springs

Wolfgang Dreybrodt, Franci Gabrovšek



We report on sinter terrace forms on the centimetre scale observed on the top and at the base of a stalagmite in Škocjanske jame (Škocjan caves). These exhibit connected rimstone dams, forming a net-like pattern with active water pools inside. The form is similar to those seen at the large travertine terraces, which form by precipitation of calcite from spring waters highly supersaturated with respect to calcite. In contrast to these patterns we have also found isolated sinter basins with dimensions of a few centimeter on stalagmite-like structures in the cave Dimnice, Slovenia. Similar basins a few meters wide are a tourist attraction in Pamukkale, Denizli, Turkey. The observed features have grown from supersaturated solutions of calcium carbonate in laminar flow. Large-scale landscapes originate under conditions of turbulent flow. Some ideas are presented why, in spite of the clear difference in flow, the shapes are similar on all scales.

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