Pseudokarst Regions

Pseudokarst regions contain caves in rocks that are much less soluble than limestone or that formed by means other than solution. Small, isolated areas of East and South Texas contain small caves in sandstone or sediments but are not detailed here.

1. Clastokarst

Map of Texas Karst and pseudokarst
Map of Texas Karst Regions
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Two notable regions of clastokarst are known in Texas: Palo Duro Canyon and Lajitas. Clastokarst is formed in clastics (sediments). In Palo Duro Canyon, caves have formed by suffosion (piping of sediments) along the contact of steeply sloping landslides on the canyon walls (e.g., Catarina-Confusion Cave Complex, Randall County). Similar caves apparently exist at the related Caprock Canyons State Park, Briscoe County. At Lajitas, a small area of upper Cretaceous or lower Tertiary clay is rife with sinkholes and small caves; it remains unstudied.

Passage at the bottom of Mount Emory Cave
Passage at the bottom of Mount Emory Cave, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas.
- photo George Veni

2. Igneous and metamorphic rocks

Caves are known from granite, marble, rhyolite, and lava. The caves are generally so isolated that they do not comprise a region. The exception is Enchanted Rock, centrally located in the Llano Region, where many caves are known under and between collapse blocks; some caves exhibit enlargement by "grusification," dissolution-enhanced erosion of the granite (e.g., Enchanted Rock Cave, Llano County).

Page updated 7/2014. Original page by A. Richard Smith and George Veni.