Speleothems - Flowstone/Dripstone

Flowstone, stalactities, stalagmites and columns
Flowstone, stalactites, stalagmites and columns in Fairy Palace

NPS Photo


Where the deposition of calcite is concentrated along cracks, calcite is deposited as flowstone, or dripstone. Dripstone includes such features as stalactites and stalagmites, speleothems common in many limestone caves but relatively rare at Wind Cave. The comparative scarcity of these features in Wind Cave is another puzzle for geologists. Perhaps a lack of water would explain it. Alternately, the difference may be the way the water passes through the rock. Rather than just flowing along cracks, much of the water which enters Wind Cave today passes more-or-less uniformly through the rock by seeping between pore spaces. Consequently, when the water reaches the cave it coats the cave walls with a frosting-like layer of calcite rather than concentrating the calcite only along cracks.


Last updated: October 20, 2018

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