Anastomotic Channeling

May 07, 2006


Provided by: Patrick Sullivan, Old Dominion University
Summary authors & editors: Patrick Sullivan

The curious photo above is an example of Anastomotic Channeling. My children and I explored Diamond Caverns near Park City, Kentucky in August 2003 -- a great way to beat the heat during those hot August days. These caverns were discovered in 1859 and in 1946 were dedicated as part of Mammoth Cave National Park (the world's largest mapped cave system). Diamond Caverns are classified as limestone caverns, with large deposits of calcite and dolomite. Drapery, stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, cave bacon, and flow stone deposits are all plentiful here. This picture of the ceiling of one of the caves reminded me of a dried up braided stream. These formations are referred to as Anastomotic Channeling -- channeling results from flow of water (erosion) inside the cavern. After the water recedes, deposits are left behind on the ceiling, the colors of which vary depending upon the mineral content of different types of sediment.

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