Abstract

The locus of formation of cave conduits in carbonate aquifers is dependent on hydraulic, structural, and solubility factors, and these can facilitate flow deep below the water table. Geothermal heating results in increasing temperatures and decreasing viscosity with depth. This favors deep conduit development for flow paths with lengths >3 km. Steeply dipping strata aid the flow of undersaturated water to depth along bedding planes. These factors indicate that flow deep below the water table should be associated with steep dips and long flow paths. Empirical evidence strongly supports this model and demonstrates that the flow depth of conduits is directly proportional to flow-path length and stratal dip.

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