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Broken Stalactite Cross-Section

Timpanogos Cave National Monument


ADDED: Sep 28, 2005 21:13VIEWS: 6,808
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Broken Stalactite Cross-Section
In some parts of the cave visitors can see broken speleothems. Thoughtless visitors broke some of the formations before the caves were protected. However, most of the broken formations were likely brought down in earthquakes. It is estimated that the area's most recent major earthquake occurred on the Middle Cave fault line between 400 and 700 years ago. The broken formations remind visitors that faults have played an important role in the development of the caves. Before any formations could develop, an air filled cavity had to be created. Faulting in the area pulverized rocks along fractures, thus facilitating the movement of acid-rich water along these pathways. The water slowly dissolved the surrounding rock and began to widen the passage. The area was completely submerged while most of the cave was dissolved out by a mild carbonic acid. If faults had not concentrated this dissolving process in one place it is less likely that caves would have formed in the area. This picture looks up at the cross-section of a broken stalactite. You may notice the bands of different colors. These bands indicate wet and dry phases of the stalactites growth. However because the cycles which form these bands are not necessarily annual and are affected by factors other than season, they are not useful for dating the age of the formation or tracing climate history as with tree rings.


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