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Cave un-roofing as a large-scale geomorphic process

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Author(s): Klimchouk Alexander

Journal: Speleogenesis and Evolution of Karst Aquifers
ISSN 1814-294X

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 3296;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: tiankeng | limestone gorges | karst collapse | cave un-roofing | cone karst | tower karst | tropical karst | fengcong | fenglin | China

ABSTRACT
A morphogenetic approach appears to be the most sensible in defining the tiankeng as a typological category. Tiankengs are giant collapse dolines formed over large river caves, with continuous precipitous perimeter and a diameter-to-depth ratio between 0.5 and 2. The term bears an evolutionary meaning, referring to the youthful stage of open collapse doline development, and the relationship of tiankengs to large underground rivers. The latter criterion separates tiankengs from other types of giant collapse features, such as caprock collapses over evaporates or large collapses over hydrothermal cavities. The South China karst offers evidence that un-roofing of caves is a large-scale geomorphic process playing an important role in the formation of cone and tower karst. It is probably the major process in the origin of large depressions, gorges and valleys in tropical karst, although other geomorphic processes contribute to shaping and maturation of a landscape and eventually obscure the origin in unroofed caves. Many saddles between hills and towers in fengcong and fenglin karst may owe their origin to cave un-roofing.

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