Origin of the palaeokarst in Miocene evaporites on the SW periphery of the Eastern European Platform in the light of palynological studies – a case study of the Zoloushka Cave, Bukovina, Western Ukraine

Viacheslav Andreychouk, Elżbieta Worobiec, Przemysław Gedl, Grzegorz Worobiec


The Zoloushka Cave belongs to a group of the largest gypsum caves in Western Ukraine (Bukovina region), developed in the middle Miocene (upper Badenian) evaporite series (Tyras Formation) on the SW periphery of the East European Platform. It is developed in the lower part of the evaporite series composed of gypsum, which is covered by a carbonate layer (Ratyn Limestone). The uneven upper surface of the gypsum at the contact with the limestone, the frequent occurrence of palaeokarst forms, and the presence of karstified fissures filled with allochthonous material indicate a sedimentation break between the gypsum and the overlying limestone. To support this thesis and to add new data on the age and palaeoenvironmental conditions of palaeokarst formation in the Bukovina region, palynological studies were carried out on material from the Zoloushka Cave. Palynofacies, sporomorphs and dinoflagellate cysts were studied. In total, over 70 sporomorph taxa and over 25 dinoflagellate cyst taxa have been identified in four samples collected from the filling of the palaeokarstic forms in the cave. The results of the analysis of sporomorphs and dinoflagellate cysts point to the formation of the palaeokarst during the sedimentation break that took place at the end of the late Badenian evaporitic cycle in the Western Ukraine region. The subsequent marine transgression led to the filling of the karst forms in gypsum with chemogenic carbonate material, precipitated from marine water (draperies) and with fine-grained, clastic material (pockets and fissures).

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