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GEOREF RECORD

Cave development on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Peter L. Smart, Patricia A. Beddows, Jim Coke, Stefan Doerr, Samantha Smith and Fiona F. Whitaker
Cave development on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Quintana Roo, Mexico (in Perspectives on karst geomorphology, hydrology, and geochemistry; a tribute volume to Derek C. Ford and William B. White, Russell S. Harmon (editor) and Carol M. Wicks (editor))
Special Paper - Geological Society of America (2006) 404: 105-128

Abstract

Extensive flooded cave systems are developed in a zone 8-12 km inland of the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Quintana Roo, Mexico. In plan, the systems comprise cross-linked anastomosing networks composed of horizontal elliptical tubes (which are actively developing where associated with the present fresh water/saline water mixing zone) and canyon-shaped passages. Both forms are heavily modified by sediment and speleothem infill, and extensive collapse. The pattern of Quintana Roo caves differs both from the mixing chamber from of flank-margin eogenetic caves, and also the dedritic and rectilinear maze patterns of epigenetic continental (telogenetic) caves. Unlike the latter, Quintana Roo caves are formed by coastal zone fresh water/saline water mixing processes. While mixing dissolution is also responsible for development of flank-margin caves, these may be typical of small islands and arid areas with limited coastal discharge, whereas Quintana Roo-type caves are formed when coastal discharge is greater. In the Quintana Roo caves, multiple phases of cave development are associated with glacio-eustatic changes in sea level. Two critical conditions control cave development following lowstands: (1) if the passage remains occupied by the mixing zone and connected to underlying deep cave systems, and (2) for passages above the mixing zone, if active freshwater flow is maintained by tributaries. In the first case, inflow of saline water drives mixing dissolution, enabling removal of the lowstand carbonate fill and continued passage enlargement. In the second, despite limited dissolution in the fresh water, continued removal of uncemented sediments can maintain the cave void. Where neither of these conditions is met, enlargement will cease,and the cave void will become occluded by collapse and sediment infill.


ISSN: 0072-1077
EISSN: 2331-219X
Coden: GSAPAZ
Serial Title: Special Paper - Geological Society of America
Serial Volume: 404
Title: Cave development on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Title: Perspectives on karst geomorphology, hydrology, and geochemistry; a tribute volume to Derek C. Ford and William B. White
Author(s): Smart, Peter L.Beddows, Patricia A.Coke, JimDoerr, StefanSmith, SamanthaWhitaker, Fiona F.
Author(s): Harmon, Russell S.editor
Author(s): Wicks, Carol M.editor
Affiliation: University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences, Bristol, United Kingdom
Affiliation: U. S. Army Research Office, Environmental Sciences Division, Research Triangle Park, NC, United States
Pages: 105-128
Published: 2006
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
ISBN: 978-0-8137-2404-1
ISBN: 0-8137-2404-7
References: 45
Accession Number: 2006-075410
Categories: Geomorphology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sects., 1 table, sketch maps
N20°00'00" - N21°30'00", W88°00'00" - W86°30'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Missouri-Columbia, USA, United StatesUniversity of Wales College at Swansea, GBR, United Kingdom
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute.
Update Code: 200643
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