Krásnohorská jaskyna - Krásnohorská Cave
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Near the village Krásnohorská Dlhá Lúka in the northern edge of the Silická planina plateau in the Slovenský kras karst is the entrance to the Krásnohorská jaskyňa cave. Its pride is the biggest stalagmite in temperate climate area.
Geology of the cave and the surroundings The Krásnohorská Cave is located at the northern foothill of the Silická Plateau, an area of high geological interest. About 800 m wide and 1 km long zone south-east from the Krásnohorská Dlhá Lúka village is the only place of the northern slope of the Silická Plateau where Lower- Triassic schists and Verfen strata sandstones are tectonically reduced and limestones reach down to the erosion base of the surface streams of the Rožňava Valley. It is therefore obvious that these geological factors together with evident tectonic predisposition in that place caused a concentrated flow of karst waters to plateau's foothill. Predominant part of the cave from the entrance to Sieň obrov (the Hall of Giants) is formed in gutenstein dolomite and dolomitic limestones with singular limestone layers. Only back parts of the cave - Chodba perál (the Pearl Passage), Veľká sieň (the Great Hall), Zrkadlová sieň (the Mirror Hall) and probably also parts behind the ending siphon are located in chemically pure steinalm limestones. In the less soluble dolomites, significant passageways like Veľký kaňom (the Great Canyon) were formed as a result of striking tectonic faults in a tectonically highly affected area. This also helped to form large chambers in the back part of the cave. The presence of highly affected tectonic zone is proved by recrystalised, breccial and microbreccial carbonate structures, too. Veľký kaňom (the Great Canyon) can be considered as one of the most typical tectonically oriented cave passages in Slovakia formed at a tectonic fault. Local rich dripstone decoration in the cave has been created due to the occurrence of chemically pure steinalm limestones in the superincumbent beds of gutenstein carbonates. A different rock composition with the prevalence of limestones in the rear part of the cave (the Pearl Passage, the Great Hall, the Mirror Hall) is characterised by higher quality and quantity of morphological shapes there. Karst evolution in the vicinity of the Krásnohorská Cave A large number of published papers and unpublished reports were focused on the karst evolution of the Slovak- Aggtelek Karst (SAK), but many of them are based on presumptions and hypotheses, and not on the actual fossil record. We lack any reliable Pre-Quaternary dated karst infillings from the studied cave, but its vicinity may provide some clues to its history. Mesozoic: The oldest datable (palynology) karst infillings of sinkholes and shallow lakes are represented by Gombasek layers of Santon-Campanian origin (Upper Cretaceous). The fresh shallow water flyshoid strata of the calcareous siltstones and dark anoxic shales of the Campanian- Santonian age, corresponding to alternating hydrological conditions (probable monsoon cycle), was found in the Gombasek and Hosťovce Quarries in the Slovak Karst. The Gombasek strata contain a mixture of two different pollen assemblages of the Campanian and Santonian age, respectively, while pollen-poor Campanian layers were found in Hosťovce. We expect that the plateaus of the Slovak Karst may represent an inclined, generally flat, exhumed limestone surface, originally covered by unevenly developed, weakly consolidated fluvial-lacustrine sediments (shales, siltstones, calcareous siltstones, sandstones) and continental weathering products of the limonitic- bauxitic types. While Gombasek finds represent semiautochthonous relicts of the former sedimentary cover, the Hosťovce sinkhole is developed as single Upper Cretaceous lakelet, where in situ layers are almost touching the side walls of the undisturbed paleokarst structure. The occasional fallen blocks (up to 30 cm) of Triassic limestone suggest the existence of vertical wall close to the lakelet and thus to the (sub)tropical karst development. Tertiary: In Paleogene, the SAK area probably represented a rather monotonous plain covered by mostly insignificant elevations. Several cycles of marine transgressions and lacustrine phases took place at the southern margin of the SAK or under the slopes of the plateaus. The evidence of humid and warm Paleogene period of karstification is scarce in northern part of the SAK but abundant in its lower (Hungarian) part. The original Upper Creataceous limestone plateau was inclined from its highest point in the north to the south. The uneven uplift during the Tertiary led to differential denudation, thus the southern (Hungarian) part of the SAK contains abundant Paleogene sediments, which were denuded from the northern Slovak part. Even the general underground drainage pattern led from the contact zones in the north close to the Slovenské Rudohorie Hills to partly submerged limestone strata in the southern Pannonian lowlands. We thus expect that some caves of the plateau slopes may represent the relicts of former cavities, which have almost nothing in common with the present relief. One of the most important milestones in the SAK evolution was the formation of broad but steep valleys approx. 400 m deep during the Pannonian in the Upper Miocene that separated individual karst plateaus. The intensity of uplifting and thus downcutting probably exceeded 400- 500 m in the north but only less than 100 m in the south. The last event of this crucial erosional event was concluded by rapid sedimentation of diamictites of the Poltár layers (the Uppermost Miocene, probably the Lower Pliocene). The valley bottoms of the Slovak Karst may contain as much as 120 m of these sediments but the Poltár layers can be sometimes found as high as 150 m above the present floodplain. The consequences of the Poltár aggradation are undoubtly of basic importance for the underground development: the uplift was connected with vertical karstification and formation of the new generation of cave systems, whose lower ends could be located more than 100 m below the present surface of floodplain. Quaternary represents only last 2 Ma (millions of years) in at least 70 Ma old history of the SAK karstification. On one hand, we may expect that maybe the majority of large cave systems contains some older (Upper Mesozoic - Pliocene) elements but on the other hand, the erosional activity of Pleistocene climatic fluctuations led to the formation of new cave levels. On the basis of the given evidence, we may expect that the Krásnohorská Cave is formed by polycyclic processes that might have started not later than during Paleogene. They smoothed, remodelled or emptied older cavities possibly (according to the river terrace system) during last 1-3 glacial cycles. While large chambers can be attributed to the Pre-Quaternary paleokarst, a narrow passage under the plateau's slopes is obviously related to the Late Pleistocene river terrace system. The Dripstone of Rožňava Cavers is one of the biggest sinter forms in the world. A formation with such parameters (hight 32,6 m, weight about 2 000 tons) in temperate climate conditions and within a rather short period (approx. 13 000 years) evokes many questions. Its average growth rate is about 150 kg/year. Such growth intensity needs extraordinary conditions. A huge amount of solution pouring on the dripstone is collected by a large sinkhole situated just above that place on the surface of the plateau. Due to high CO2 concentration in the soil on the plain's surface, the solution is much saturated. In the Hall of Giants, carbon dioxide concentration is 6 times lower, what makes sufficient partial pressure for intensive sinter precipitation. CO2 content in drops falling from big heights decreases. Thus a drop is supersaturated when dripping down and a lot of sinter precipitates from it. After dripstone has grown up, the growth process changes to the formation of surface flowstone crust.
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum