Neogene karst sinkhole and its deposits from Górażdże Quarry, Upper Silesia - archive for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions

Joachim Szulc, Elżbieta Worobiec

Abstract


A sinkhole, developed in Middle Triassic limestones and filled with clastic and organic deposits, including lignite, was studied, in terms of its origin and age. The sinkhole represents a solution sinkhole, which originated through the subsidence of surficial deposits into an underlying cave system. The study permitted the recognition of three main stages of sinkhole evolution. During the initial stage, subterranean and surface karstification proceeded concurrently. As a result, a terra rossa cover developed at the surface and a cavern system was formed in the underlying bedrocks. During the second phase, both systems became connected and the soil cover subsided. This, in turn, involved the formation of a depression at the land surface and ponding of the drainage water. The pond was filled with plant debris, later giving rise to lignite formation. During the third and final stage, the sinkhole was filled with quartz sands with kaolinite, derived from eroded, Upper Cretaceous sandstones and marls.
Results of pollen analysis from the sinkhole indicate the presence of mesophytic forests and show a significant role of riparian forests and herbaceous vegetation. The occurrence of abundant, freshwater algae and the pollen of aquatic plants evidences sedimentation of the infill in a water body (pond). The apparent dominance of arctotertiary and cosmopolitan, palaeofloristical elements, as well as the occurrence of only sparse, palaeotropical elements (mainly subtropical), indicate a warm-temperate climate (cooler than during the Early and Middle Miocene period). A comparison of the sporomorph association from the sinkhole with those from other Neogene sites provides evidence of its Late Miocene age (Late Pannonian–Early Pontian).

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