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By C. Spötl, M. Luetscher, P. Rittig

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Extra info for 4th International Workshop on Ice Caves

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The following model for the formation of these speleo-particles is proposed: (1) permafrost conditions during the Weichselian cold period; (2) during an interstadial the 0oC isotherm reaches the Breitscheid-Erdbach Cave and an ice body forms in the cave; (3) cave pools form on the ice bodies during climate optima and calcite speleo-particles of noncryogenic origin (type a) form in these pools; (4) with subsequently decreasing temperatures in the following stadial, the cave pools freeze and cryo-calcites of type (b) and (c) form; (5) during the next interstadial the ice bodies melt and meltwater transports and re-deposits speleo-particles (a) through (c) on the cave floor and collapse blocks.

Once the outside temperature drops below 4°C descending cool air is recorded also in the deeper part of the shafts by rapid temperature decreases. This pattern leads to the winter regime whereby “old” cave air is replaced by very cold and dense, “fresh” winter air and the summer temperature profile in the shafts essentially reverses. 3 m depth between December and May. The fact that summer temperatures inside the rock are positive is consistent with the presence (and apparent widening) of the fissure between the walls and the adjacent ground ice.

Air in the lower parts of both shafts and in the cave proper is decoupled from the outside weather conditions during the warm season (no direct sunlight hits the middle and lower parts of the shafts). Once the outside temperature drops below 4°C descending cool air is recorded also in the deeper part of the shafts by rapid temperature decreases. This pattern leads to the winter regime whereby “old” cave air is replaced by very cold and dense, “fresh” winter air and the summer temperature profile in the shafts essentially reverses.

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