Abstract

A well-recognized spatial association exists between cavernous weathering and the presence of soluble salts. Disaggregation of rock in caverns is attributed to mechanical pressures exerted by crystallization and/or hydration of salts. However, scanning electron micrographic analysis demonstrates that solutional etching is the major weathering process in caverns in near-coastal locations in Western Australia and New South Wales, Australia. It is suggested here that the breakdown of the caverned sandstone is caused by sodium chloride which increases the rate of quartz dissolution.

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