The fore-Ural is a classical region of intrastratal gypsum karst. The intensive development of karst in the Permian gypsums and anhydrites causes numerous practical problems, the subsidence hazard being the most severe. Mechanisms of karst breakdown formation were studied in detail in the Kunguskaya Cave area. The cave and its setting are characteristic to the region and, being a site of detalied stationary studies for many years, the cave represents a convenient location for various karst and speleological investigations. Breakdown structures related to cavities of the Kungurskaya Cave type develop by two mechanisms: gravitational (sagging and fall-in of the ceilings of cavities) and filtrational/gravitational (crumbling and fall-in of the ceilings of vertical solution pipes, facilitated by percolation). The former implies upward stoping of the breakout roof and cessation of the process at some height above the floor of the cave due to complete infilling by fallen clasts. This mechanism cannot generate surface deformation where the overburden thickness exceeds a certain value. The latter mechanism implies that breakdown will almost inevitably express itself at the surface, most commonly as a sudden collapse, even where the thickness of the overburden is large. These mechanisms resuit in different appearance, distribution and further evolution of the respective surface forms, so that subsidence hazard assessment should be performed differently for these types of breakdown. The conclusions reached by this study are representative for the region, although some of them bear more general validity for intrastratal karst conditions. This study underlines the ultimate importance of speleological investigations to the understanding of karst breakdown mechanisms.



Included in

Geology Commons