THE UNDERGROUND KARST – The Caves

The caves are unique and charming environments, are made thanks to the ceaseless work of the rainwater that, after a brief flow on the surface, infiltrates in the underground through the rock fractures and the sink. The water flow in the depth to an exit place making more and more big tunnels. Inside the rock can be created real underground rivers that will resurface after hundred or thousand meters through a resurgence.

  • Sinkhole (M. Conca – CL) into wich surface river water infiltrates.
  • Active gallery (M. Conca – CL) crossed by underground river water.
  • Collapse chamber (S. Angelo Muxaro – AG) made bigger by collapses of the overhead.
  • Resurgence (Cattolica E. – AG) from which underground water surface.

 

Galleries can have various shapes (a forra, a laminatoio, a sezione circolare, etc) depending on the rocks structure and the water movements. Along the walls we can observe sinuous morphologies (recesses and shelf) originated by water erosion.

Wells connect tunnels at different heights. Wells have different shapes depending on water speed and quantity. The waterfall shafts are made of underground rivers and often they show ponds or small lakes.

If the waters are enriched with carbon dioxide, carbonate speleothem (cannulas, stalactites and stalagmites, “sail”, etc.) are formed.

The water dissolves and erodes the rock making tunnels and wells, and in the same time the water fill up caves environments with sediments (sandy and clay deposits brought by torrents) and concretions.

Crossing the rock, water is enriched with chalk; when chalk reach caves environments it settles making amazing speleothems: stalactites, stalagmites, gypsum crystal, druse and balls.