Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 65 Number 2: 130-151 - August 2003

A publication of the National Speleological Society

How speleothems grow: An introduction to the ontogeny of cave minerals
Charles A. Self and Carol A. Hill


Speleothems are secondary mineral deposits whose growth in caves can be studied by mineralogic techniques. One of these techniques is the ontogeny of minerals, which is the study of individual crystals and their aggregates as physical bodies rather than as mineral species. Ontogeny of cave minerals as a scientific subject has been developed in Russia but is poorly understood in the West. This paper introduces the basic principles of this subject and explains a hierarchy scheme whereby mineral bodies can be studied as crystal individuals, aggregates of individuals, associations of aggregates (termed koras), and as sequences of koras (ensembles).

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