Cryogenic Cave Calcite - have you seen them?

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Cryogenic Cave Calcite - have you seen them?

Postby kwendt » Jan 21, 2019 5:21 pm

Howdy folks,

I'm a MN researcher looking for Cryogenic Cave Calcites (CCCs). CCCs form when water enters a cave and turns to ice. As the water freezes, it becomes increasingly enriched in ions to the point of supersaturation and precipitation of calcite. CCCs are typically white to light brown in color and a few millimeters in size. The shapes are extremely varied, from distinct crystals to rafts to balls with concave and convex sides. For more photos, please see here:

Why are they important? Many caves in the US do not contain ice today, but the presence of CCCs are an indicator that there may have been ice in the past, e.g. during the last glacial period. By dating CCCs, we can find out more about the environmental and temperature conditions at the time of formation.

Why do we care? my team and I hope to kick-start a larger research project that will aim to map the presence of permafrost in space and time during the last glacial period. Permafrost occupies 24% of the Northern Hemisphere land surface but is under threat of degradation from increased surface temperature. Understanding more about permafrost dynamics is therefore really important for improving future predictions of permafrost retreat.

For more information and photos of CCCs, please follow this link to the British Caving Association's forum:

If you're in the US and you've spotted some before and/or see them this upcoming season, shoot me a message or photo! But please don't collect them :cave softly:

Feel free to contact me if you have questions. Until then, happy caving!

Last edited by kwendt on Apr 13, 2019 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cryogenic Cave Calcite - have you seen them?

Postby trogman » Feb 4, 2019 12:35 pm

Very interesting topic, thanks for posting!
I don't think the caves in my area (TAG) have any potential to have any of these. But I enjoyed reading about them all the same.

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