Bulletin of the National Speleological Society - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 26 Number 1: 7-16 - January 1964

A publication of the National Speleological Society

A Model for Cavern Development Under Artesian Ground Water Flow, With Special Reference to the Black Hills
Alan D. Howard


Three classes of ground water flow within limestone are responsible for the development of caverns: subsurface stream, integrated water table, and artesian. Subsurface streams are comparable in method of flow and properties to surface streams. Integrated water table flow occurs as lateral flow at the top of a nearly planar water table. Artesian flow of ground water is through enclosed solutional cavities in the completely saturated zone where there is no free water surface. In the Black Hills of South Dakota structural situations have promoted the develoment of artesian gorund water circulartion through limestone, and all three of the above classes of ground water flow are involved in the ground water movement through the limestone. Caverns formed through the action of the last two categories of flow within limestone are similar, but criteria are given to distinguish between the two classes of origin on the basis of cavern morphology. These criteria are applied to Wind Cave in South Dakota, and the balance of evidence indicates an artesian origin of the cavern system.

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