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CAVE GEOLOGY

CODE 108792
ACADEMIC YEAR 2022/2023
CREDITS
  • 4 cfu during the 2nd year of 9022 SCIENZE GEOLOGICHE (LM-74) - GENOVA
  • SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINARY SECTOR GEO/04
    TEACHING LOCATION
  • GENOVA
  • SEMESTER 2° Semester
    TEACHING MATERIALS AULAWEB

    OVERVIEW

    The cave deposits, both of physical and chemical origin, represent an important archive of geological data useful for the reconstruction of recent paleoenvironmental evolution (especially of the Quaternary) and for the understanding of speleogenetic mechanisms. The course aims to provide a synthetic review of the most common types of physical or chemical deposits present in natural and artificial cavities, and of their various applicative aspects in the field of Earth Sciences.

    AIMS AND CONTENT

    LEARNING OUTCOMES

    Specifically, it will be possible to provide the student with the cognitive tools to recognize and define the genesis of the main sediments, concretions (speleothems) and mineralizations in caves, the study of which is also a key tool in the field of paleoclimatic and paleo-environmental reconstructions. The visit to some caves in the region will broaden the knowledge of the underground environment and will allow to evaluate the environmental impact on karst areas and in more or less sensitive caves (caves closed to the public and tourist caves), their geomorphological importance and their value as a geo-archaeological and geo-mineralogical heritage.

    AIMS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES

    • To classify the various karst forms and describe the main speleogenetic processes
    • Recognize and characterize clastic cave sediments
    • Recognize and characterize concretions and secondary minerals
    • To understand the applications of the study of cave deposits in paleoenvironmental reconstructions
    • Know and evaluate the risks of human attendance in the cave

    PREREQUISITES

    Basic knowledge of Geomorphology, Mineralogy, Sedimentology

    TEACHING METHODS

    The course consists of lectures and field trips. Attendance to lessons and activities on the field is strongly recommended as practical and methodological activities are foreseen. Lectures in the classroom are delivered through multimedia presentations. At the end of each part of the program there are classroom tests for learning self-assessment.

     

    SYLLABUS/CONTENT

    The course content includes the presentation and discussion of the following topics:

    • PRINCIPLES OF CARSIC GEOMORPHOLOGY AND SPELEOGENESIS: Karst systems and karst systems. Chemistry of karst processes. Morphology and evolution of karst environments.

    • CLASTIC DEPOSITS: Texture of clastic sediments. Principles of stratigraphy. Allogenic and autogenic deposits. Main lithofacies.

    • CHEMICAL DEPOSITS: Carbonate concretions. Minerogenetic environments of caves. Calcite and aragonite. Secondary mineralizations. Sulphates and the sulfur cycle. Nitrate phosphates and guano deposits.

    • PALEOENVIRONMENTAL APPLICATIONS: Methods of isotopic and paleomagnetic dating. Speleothems and paleotemperatur / precipitation. Speleothems and paleoseismicity. Archaeological deposits in the cave

    • CONSERVATION AND SAFEGUARD OF CAVE DEPOSITS: Tourist and non-tourist caves. Abandoned mines and artificial cavities. Enhancement of caves and mines. The impact of man on the cave and the degradation of the deposits.

    FIELD TRIPS: three field trips in tourist and non-tourist caves are planned, in Liguria and in the lower Piedmont area

    RECOMMENDED READING/BIBLIOGRAPHY

    All the slides used during the lessons and other didactic material will be available on AulaWeb at the end of each cycle of lessons / laboratory exercises. The books listed below are suggested as supporting texts, but students can still use other university-level texts as well.

    • Sasowsky I. D., Mylroie J. (2007). Studies of Cave Sediments: Physical and Chemical Records of Paleoclimate. Springer
    • Hill, C.A., 1976, Cave Minerals. National Speleological Society, Huntsville, AL, p. 167.
    • Hill, C., & Forti, P. (1997). Cave minerals of the World, second ed. National Speleological Society, Huntsville, AL.

    TEACHERS AND EXAM BOARD

    LESSONS

    Class schedule

    All class schedules are posted on the EasyAcademy portal.

    EXAMS

    EXAM DESCRIPTION

    The exam consists of an oral test with questions asked by the teacher on topics covered during the course and of a written report about the field trips.

    ASSESSMENT METHODS

    The oral test will mainly focus on the topics covered during the lectures and will aim to assess the achievement of the appropriate level of knowledge, the ability to link different topics. The ability to present the topics clearly and with correct terminology will also be evaluated. Finally, the report about field trips will also be discussed to verify the real level of knowledge.