Physical speleology and speleogenesis


Earth and Environmental Sciences (2nd level)

Karstology (2nd Cycle)

Course code: MIK05
Year of study: 2nd year

Course principal:
Prof. Franci Gabrovšek, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 30hours, seminar 15 hours, field work 25 hours, individual work 80hours.
Course type: elective
Languages: Slovene, English
Learning and teaching methods: lectures, seminar, field work


Course syllabus (download)


First-cycle Bologna degree or a university degree in the natural sciences.


Content (Syllabus outline):

  • Mass and heat transport in karst;
  • Hydraulics of karst conduits;
  • Weather and climate of karst caves;
  • Sediment transport in caves;
  • Dissolution and precipitation of calcite;
  • Monitoring of cave environment: set-up of measurement system, data processing and interpretation;
  • Field work in caves: interpretation of recent and past environments by observation of channel geometry and forms.
  • Evolution of caves (initiation, growth, stagnation, cessation);
  • Speleogenetic environments (vadose, epiphreatic and phreatic zone; epigenic, hypogenic and coastal settings);
  • Fundamentals of speleogenetic processes;
  • Controls/factors in speleogenetic environment;
  • Cave patterns and micromorphology of caves;
  • Modeling of speleogenesis.



Basic textbook:

  • Palmer, A.N., 2007: Cave Geology. Cave Books.


Selected chapters from:

  • Ford, D.C. & Williams, P., 2007: Karst Hydrogeology and Geomorphology. Wiley.
  • Dreybrodt, W., 1988: Processes in Karst Systems, Springer.
  • Clark, M.M., 2009: Transport modeling for environmental engineers and scientists. WIley.


Objectives and competences:

  • Understanding of physical environment of caves;
  • Understanding caves as a part of the boundary zone between different earth spheres and the heat and mass transport within;
  • Use of basic physical laws to understand processes and forms in karst caves;
  • Monitoring of cave environment: Field data acquisition and interpretation;
  • Deducing processes and environments from the field observations.


Intended learning outcomes:

The student will deepen basic knowledge of speleology and speleogenesis by learning and applying basic physical principles. Student will learn how and what to observe in caves and how to set-up measurements, process and interpret data.



Exam (90 %), written paper (10 %).