Name this speleothem

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Name this speleothem

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 13, 2015 2:24 pm

I'm writing a (serious) description for a new cave. I wonder what you would call this formation. It is nothing too unusual, but I'm not sure how best to describe it:
Image
Image
You can get a better look by seeing the video linked in this post.
I would call this "rimstone-covered flowstone" or something of the sort, but the chutelike shape of the tiny gours makes me wonder if there is another designation for this sort of thing. Is it common for rimstone to develop a "trough" instead of a "dam"?
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Re: Name this speleothem

Postby caver.adam » Mar 13, 2015 6:35 pm

I like the name Serena. Oh, oops, that's not what you need.
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Re: Name this speleothem

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 13, 2015 7:45 pm

That's not too bad, maybe not quite frilly enough...
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Re: Name this speleothem

Postby driggs » Mar 14, 2015 2:23 pm

I have never seen anything like this. They don't appear to be rimstone, splattermites, or folia.

If I had to invent an explanation, I might say that they originated as tiny rimstone pools on flowstone, but fluctuating water chemistry due to the nearness of the surface caused the dams to be dissolved by recently-aggressive water. But, in truth, that explanation wouldn't account for the deposition of the rimstone in the first place unless the water remained supersaturated for a very extended amount of time.

The names "micro-gour" or "corroded-gour" sound believably technical if you'd like to run with this completely made-up explanation.

In case anyone missed Jonah's excellent video:

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Re: Name this speleothem

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 14, 2015 8:39 pm

driggs wrote: I might say that they originated as tiny rimstone pools on flowstone, but fluctuating water chemistry due to the nearness of the surface caused the dams to be dissolved by recently-aggressive water. But, in truth, that explanation wouldn't account for the deposition of the rimstone in the first place


I thought of this, but I don't know if corrosion could account for the shape either. The way the "leaves" protrude makes them look almost like a fungus. In fact, I thought that this was some biological growth when I first glimpsed it when crawling into this room. I can't find any other examples in online photos... maybe this is less common than I had assumed?
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Re: Name this speleothem

Postby submassabielle » Mar 17, 2015 11:16 am

Could it be calcified fungus? In the video, at 1:48, were those roots at the base of the formation? Were they calcified?
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Re: Name this speleothem

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 17, 2015 11:27 am

Yes, those are calcified roots. I'm wondering if it is possible for there to be a biological component to the "rimstone" as well. Are there other examples of that sort of thing in similar climates?
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Re: Name this speleothem

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 31, 2015 10:19 am

After some more futile research, emailed the Carol Hill, the co-author of Cave Minerals of the World, with a photo. She then contacted Paolo Forti, the other author. Their replies were interesting:
Carol Hill wrote: Off hand, these features look to me like they may have started off as micro-gours, but then maybe later dripping and flowing water down the wall started to transform them into "water spouts" (i.e., build up the chutelike lobes). I definitely feel that they are some kind of composite speleothem form; they don't look to me like they have a biological component.

Paolo Forti wrote:I am pretty sure that they are true microgours, as supposed by Carol.
This kind of forms develops over stalactites, stalagmites, protruding &/or degrading walls every time the deposition leads to monmilk-like deposits ( no matter what kind of minerals is involved: calcite, gypsum, hydrated iron oxides, opal .... and even pure organic matter (mucolites).
The microgour shape is maintained until the material maintains the moonmilk characteristics. Then, when it become less hydrated, the still growing deposit may partially change its shape due to the development of microcorallois or the deposition of layers of normally shaped speleotem (stalactite, stalagmite, flowstone etc...)

Carol Hill wrote:Not sure that a "moonmilk" origin is necessary... I think that the water-spout form may just be due to flowing water being siphoned into a microgour and then downward out the spout.


This answers some questions, raises others. Dunno what "microcorallois" is (microcorallosis maybe? Google doesn't know either), or how "flowing water being siphoned(?) into a microgour and then downward out the spout" creates a spout.

After Forti mentioned moonmilk, I recalled that just around the corner from this spot was a deposit of white slimy-looking gunk that I assumed was fungal. Then a couple of days ago I found another example of the same slime in another cave, this time with a few micro-gours of its own. :shrug:
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Re: Name this speleothem

Postby driggs » Mar 31, 2015 3:24 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:
Paolo Forti wrote:The microgour shape is maintained until the material maintains the moonmilk characteristics. Then, when it become less hydrated, the still growing deposit may partially change its shape due to the development of microcorallois or the deposition of layers of normally shaped speleotem (stalactite, stalagmite, flowstone etc...)


This answers some questions, raises others. Dunno what "microcorallois" is (microcorallosis maybe? Google doesn't know either), or how "flowing water being siphoned(?) into a microgour and then downward out the spout" creates a spout.


I think it was a misspelling of "micro-coralloids".

The only answer I'm truly convinced of is that what you have discovered is rare, and that there is immeasurable value in exploring and documenting even tiny caves in seemingly insignificant regions. Keep it up!

Perhaps you can convince the good Dr. Springer to visit this cave with you and examine the speleothems in person. I don't have a clue whether he can identify them or not, I just really want to see video of him squirming into that miserable entrance. :big grin:
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Re: Name this speleothem

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 31, 2015 7:54 pm

driggs wrote:I think it was a misspelling of "micro-coralloids".

Yes, that's better.

driggs wrote:Perhaps you can convince the good Dr. Springer to visit this cave with you and examine the speleothems in person. I don't have a clue whether he can identify them or not, I just really want to see video of him squirming into that miserable entrance. :big grin:

That would be quite jolly indeed. But, that cave entrance is a real treat compared to the entrance to the little room with the formations. It's terribly awkward, and you have to lie in bits of dead thing. I'd hate for him to travel so far for such ill treatment.
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Re: Name this speleothem

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 31, 2015 9:25 pm

Here's the example of the aqueous speleothem I found recently. I went back today to video it, and prod it, and compare it to the example from the other cave.
VIDEO
If this is in fact moonmilk (dunno what else it would be) I think that there's a good chance that the gours in the other cave have a moonmilk origin. There is, I noticed, a somewhat similar grey "lobe" in the above video that I failed to focus on, best visible around 34 seconds on the left side of the screen. Nothing so pronounced as the other example, but maybe related?
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Re: Name this speleothem

Postby JSDunham » Apr 4, 2015 11:05 am

This looks very much like a type of flowstone that I see all the time in the northeast. It is common in our marble caves, though I can't speak to how it forms.

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Re: Name this speleothem

Postby GroundquestMSA » Apr 5, 2015 7:48 am

The second photo does look similar. Can't really see the first but that looks more like the typical "micro-gours" I'm used to seeing, basically the same form responsible for "toothed draperies". Do you often see "moonmilk", or whatever that slimy glop is, in your caves?
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