Insights into the speleogenesis of Ejulve cave (Iberian Range, NE Spain): quaternary hydrothermal karstification?

Carlos Pérez-Mejías, Carlos Sancho, Fernando Gázquez, Ana Moreno, Miguel Bartolomé, M. Cinta Osácar, Hai Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We provide first insights into the speleogenesis of Ejulve cave (Teruel province, Iberian Range, NE Spain) by studying cave morphologies and cave deposits, combined with regional geomorphological and hydrothermal observations. Three main hydrogeomorphic evolutionary stages can be distinguised to explain the origin and evolution of the Ejulve endokarstic system. Cave pattern and cave solutional features (calcite vein fillings, tubes with rising ceiling cupolas, pendants and cusps, spongework and micro-corrosion features) suggest that the cave generated in a phreatic environment by ascending water. Cave morphologies and regional hydrothermal springs in this region suggest, but not prove, the involvement of thermal waters and related convection and condensation-corrosion mechanisms in the origin of the cave. Subsequently, the cave underwent a change to epigenic conditions driven by denudation, as a result of regional uplift. Once the karstic system was exhumated, carbonate speleothems formed in a vadose environment. Mineralogical, petrographic, isotopic and chronological (U-series dating) analyses of carbonate speleothems (i.e. stalagmites, flowstones, botryoids, spars, acicular crystals and farmed carbonate) are provided. Calcite, high-Mg calcite and aragonite are the most common minerals, whereas columnar, dendritic, micrite, mosaics and fans are the main fabrics. Mean δ18O values of − 7.3‰ and δ13C values of − 9.1‰ indicate carbonate precipitation from meteoric waters without a hydrothermal origin. Carbonate deposits formed at least since 650 ka BP. Our study suggests that hydrothermal fluid flow may explain, although the evidences are not fully conclusive, the speleogenesis of this cave.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-527
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Iberian Geology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the predoctoral research Grant from the Government of Arag?n (B158/13) and CTM2013-48639-C2-2-R (OPERA) and CGL2016-77479-R (SPYRIT) projects for funding. Fernando G?zquez was financially supported by the ?HIPATIA? research program of the University of Almeria. This is a contribution of ?Procesos geoambientales y cambio global? group (E02_17R). We are also grateful to Bel?n Oliva-Urc?a for her help in the fault measurements, Alfonso Mel?ndez for field examination of bedrock stratigraphy, Josep Elvira and Joaquin Perona for XRD analyses and stable isotope analyses, respectively. We also acknowledge the Ejulve Council for cave management, the use of Servicio General de Apoyo a la Investigaci?n-SAI (University of Zaragoza), and the editor and two anonymous reviewers that improved the paper. This article is dedicated to the memory of Professor Carlos Sancho.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Universidad Complutense de Madrid.


  • Carbonate speleothems
  • Cave morphologies
  • Iberian range
  • Meteoric regime
  • Speleogenesis


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