During the last Conference of the FEALC (Speleological Federation of Latin America and Caribbean Islands) which was held in the town of Malargue, Mendoza, in February 1997, two volcanic caves not far from that town were visited and sampled for cave mineral studies. The first cave (Cueva del Tigre) opens close to the Llancanelo lake, some 40 kms far from Malargue and it is a classical lava tube. Part of the walls and of the fallen lava blocks are covered by white translucent fibres and grains. The second visited cave is a small tectonic cavity opened on a lava bed some 100 km southward of Malargue. The cave “El Abrigo de el Manzano” is long no more than 10-12 meters with an average width of 3 meters and it hosts several bird nests, the larger of which is characterized by the presence of a relatively thick pale yellow, pale pink flowstone. Small broken or fallen samples of the secondary chemical deposits of both these caves have been collected in order to detect their mineralogical composition. In the present paper the results of the detailed mineralogical analyses carried out on the sampled material are shortly reported. In the Cueva del Tigre lava tube the main detected minerals are Sylvite, Thenardite, Bloedite and Kieserite, all related to the peculiar dry climate of that area. The flowstone of “El Abrigo de el Manzano” consists of a rather complex admixture of several minerals, the large majority of which are phosphates but also sulfates and silicates, not all yet identified. The origin of all these minerals is related to the interaction between bird guano and volcanic rock.
Benedetto, Carlos; Paolo Forti; Ermanno Galli; and Antonio Rossi.
Chemical deposits in volcanic caves of Argentina.
International Journal of Speleology,
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/ijs/vol27/iss1/16