Late Dinantian palaeokarst of England and Wales: implications for exposure surface development
Article first published online: 11 JAN 2002
Volume 45, Issue 1, pages 19–37, January 1998
How to Cite
Vanstone, S. D. (1998), Late Dinantian palaeokarst of England and Wales: implications for exposure surface development. Sedimentology, 45: 19–37. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3091.1998.00132.x
- Issue published online: 11 JAN 2002
- Article first published online: 11 JAN 2002
Palaeokarst is an important feature of late Dinantian exposure surfaces. Soil-filled depressions are widely developed. These are comparable to modern day solution dolines and were probably interspersed by areas of relatively bare limestone pavement. The palaeokarst primarily exhibits a smooth, mamillated to potholed surface form, consistent with its formation beneath a soil cover. Areas between the depressions have been extensively stylolitised and would likely have originally been characterized by small-scale fretted and sculpted karren forms typical of subaerial karstification. Palaeokarst pits making up the depressions are thought to have been initiated through stem-flow drainage from trees. Rain water, intercepted by the crown of the tree, was concentrated at specific sites on the emergent surface and dissolution beneath the trunk produced cylindrical pits that propagated vertically downwards. Trees responsible for concentrating drainage may also have enhanced the acidic nature of the rain water through leaching of organic acids from foliar and woody tissues. Downward propagation of the pits was limited to the uppermost 1–2 m and enlargement primarily occurred through lateral amalgamation of adjacent pits. Once initiated, continued development of the depressions would have been self perpetuating; the preferential accumulation of volcanic ash and organic matter enhancing water retention and encouraging further vegetation growth. In contrast, intervening areas would have been characterized by slow vertical denudation only. Karstification likely took of the order of a few hundred years in the case of potholed palaeokarstic surfaces formed solely by stem-flow drainage, to a few tens of thousands of years where the palaeokarst is more mature.