Rock discontinuities such as bedding planes and joints are important controls on the form that caves take. We examined structural controls on the development of Ohio Caverns. The cave formed in Devonian limestone underlying a small bedrock knob (Mt. Tabor) within the Interior Lowland province, United States. The area has been overridden by continental glaciation multiple times. The bedrock is pervasively fractured, with many curved and wavy near-vertical fractures showing many different orientations. In the case of Ohio Caverns, it appears that the controlling fractures in map view may not be joints sensu stricto, but rather some combination of tensile and shear (mode-1 and mode-2) fractures, probably forming in the regime transition between tensile and shear fracturing. This is easy to envision in a situation with ice advancing over this topographic high, and would result in the curved fractures that are observed in many places in the cave. It can also explain the numerous fracture directions. However, not all fractures are conduit-significant. The cave initiated on or near a single bedding plane, and the cave passages exhibit strong keyhole or plus-sign cross sections. Passage and fracture orientations are inconsistent with regionally expected directions. It is likely that mechanical, hydraulic, and thermal stresses related to glaciation caused the fracturing in Mt. Tabor. The cave then developed on this template according to local hydrologic conditions. This presents a newly documented structural template sub-type for cave development.
Watts, Adrienne M. and Ira D. Sasowsky.
Apparent glacially induced structural controls on limestone conduit development in Ohio Caverns, United States.
International Journal of Speleology,
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/ijs/vol45/iss1/7