This course is part of the programme
Karstology (Third Cycle)

Objectives and competences

Equivalent to karst surface is karst underground where karst caves are essential. To understand caves and processes in the karst underground one must be aware of the origin of karst caves, the so-called speleogenesis. A student acquainted with the basic processes of speleogenesis, much easily comprehends a concept of the evolution of the karst as a whole and correlates the caves and the said processes. The knowledge of speleogenesis is also important as it points at the complexity of karst, at its processes and its evolution that means the connection between the genesis of the surface with the genesis of the underground. Speleogenesis is the base for the evaluation of karst porosity, of caves typology and their location considering the needs of works on karst (for example the construction of communications). Epiphreatic and hypogean caves are a special case showing a special underground environment and special processes during their origin and evolution and are therefore an indicator of the underground characteristics of a given karst region.




• Bases of a karst cave origin and evolution
• Processes of origin and evolution of an epiphreatic cave
• Underground forms due to epiphreatic processes (erosion and deposition)
• Structural conditions necessary for the origin of a hypogene cave
• Hypogene speleogenetic processes (phreatic zone, corrosion of condensation water)
• Groundplan of hypogene caves
• Typology of hypogene caves

Intended learning outcomes

The course offers an in-depth knowledge of speleogenesis and speleogenetic processes. Student recognises basic speleogenetic environments and factors influencing the speleogenesis. Based on general cave geometry, cave rock features and sediments, student is able to recognise speleogenetic environments and speleogenetic phases for a known cave system.


• Ford, D.C., Williams, P., 2007. Karst Hydrogeology and Geomorphology. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.
• Palmer, A.N., 2007. Cave geology. Cave Books, Dayton, Ohio.
• Bögli, Alfred, 1980: Karst hydrology and physical speleology.- Springer, Berlin.
• Choppy, Jacques, 1996: Karst et creusement karstique.- Synthèses spéléologiques et karstiques, Spéléo-Club de Paris, 1.partie, 63 pp, Paris.
• Gabrovšek, F. (Ed.), 2002: Evolution of Karst: from Prekarst to Cessation. 448 str., Založba ZRC, Ljubljana.
• Gillieson, David, 1996: Caves: Processes, Development and Management.- Blackwell Publishers, XI + 324, Oxford.
• Klimchouk, A. & D. C. Ford & A. N. Palmer & W. Dreybrodt (Eds.), 2000: Speleogenesis. NSS, Huntsville.
• Renault, Philippe, 1970: La formation des cavernes.- Que sais-je?, No. 1400, PUF, 126 pp, Paris.
• Lecture notes and materials provided by the lecturer.


Oral exam.examination (100 %), where student demonstrates knowledge and understanding of the topics given at the lectures

Lecturer's references

Full Professor of Geography


COLUMBU A., AUDRA P., GÁZQUEZ F., D’ANGELI I.M., BIGOT J.Y., KOLTAI G., CHIESA R., YU T.L., HU H.M., SHEN C.C., CARBONE C., HERESANU V., NOBÉCOURT J.C. & DE WAELE J. 2021 - A hypogenic cave system with late-stage condensation-corrosion and epigenic overprinting (Toirano, Liguria, Italy). Geomorphology, 376, 20 p., DOI

AUDRA P. 2017 - Hypogenic caves in France. In: KLIMCHOUK A., PALMER A.N., AUDRA P., DE WAELE J., AULER A. (ED.) - Hypogene Karst Regions and Caves of the Word. Springer, New York, 61-83. DOI

AUDRA P. & PALMER A.N. 2015 - Research frontiers in speleogenesis. Dominant processes, hydrogeologic conditions and resulting cave pattern. Acta Carsologica, 44, 3, 315-348. DOI

DE WAELE, GUTIERREZ F. & AUDRA P. 2015 — Karst geomorphology: from hydrological functioning to palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. Geomorphology, 229, 1-2. DOI

AUDRA P. & PALMER A. N. 2013 — The vertical dimension of karst. Controls of vertical cave pattern. In: Shroder J. (Ed. in chief), Frumkin, A. (Ed.) – Treatise on Geomorphology, vol. 6 (Karst Geomorphology), 186-206. Academic Press, San Diego, CA. DOI