Speleothem-like dripstone and flowstone deposits can form in the non-spelean environments of marine notches on tropical carbonate coastlines. Hereby termed “littoral dripstone” and “littoral flowstone” to distinguish them from genuine cave deposits, they reflect the basic speleothem types: draperies, stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. Nevertheless, these formations lack the luster and crystallinity of cave analogues, and are not nearly as well-developed, dense, and massive. They are composed of layered microcrystalline aragonite and calcite, are generally highly porous, and invariably overlie dissolutional and bioerosional karren. Because true speleothems, often found in the remnants of solution voids breached by coastal erosion, are also commonly present in the modern littoral environments on tropical carbonate islands, they could be confused with littoral dripstone and flowstone deposits. The distinction between the two is crucial, because the true speleothems are indicators of karst cave paleoenvironments, while littoral dripstone and flowstone are contemporary parts of the modern coastal landscape.



Included in

Geology Commons