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Caves of the Kőszegi Mountains

The Kőszegi Mountains are to be found in the eastern foothills of the Alps between the Göngyös and Pinka Creeks. They cover an area of 220 km 2. Three-quarters of the mountains belong to Austria (Günsengebierge) and only one-quarter of them are in Hungarian territory. The mountains are a block range of metamorphic rocks, which show a typical alpine tectonic formation such as tectonic windows and fold carpets. The blocks are divided by deep erosion valleys.

The rocks were developed as marine deposits and submarine volcanic rocks in the Jurassic and Cretaceous Age. Due to the thrust of the East-Alpine Carpet in the Tertiary, a load metamorphism took place. As a consequence of this the marine and volcanic rocks were metamorphosed into crystalline schists.

Quartz phyllite is common. In this rock 10 caves were formed. The material and structure of the different sericite phyllites and calcareous phyllites are more suitable for cave development. Thirty-two caves have been found in these rocks. In the volcanic rocks which originated as green schists 17 caves have been found. In the rare metasedimentary rocks (sandstone and conglomerate) 4 caves were found. There are no caves in the serpentine rocks, though these have been well explored by different mining operations.

In the whole of the mountains 63 natural caves are known (43 in Hungary). 18 artificial mining tunnels were listed containing interesting speleothem minerals.

The caves were formed by pseudokarstic effects, such as tectonic movements, rock fragmentation and weathering. Most usual are the caves formed along tectonic fissures. Kalapos-kői Cave and Atlantishöhle which has now been destroyed by mining operations, were formed parallel to the outcropping rim of the rock formation. Gotthartkluft and Limax Cave were formed perpendicular to the rim of the outcrop. Tűzifás Cave and the Fledermausspalte were developed along several vertical faults. Holler Cave, Szalamandrás Cave, Dreifrauenhöhle and several other caves are the result of rock fragmentation, mainly the fragmentation of the grainy rocks due to fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

Kurta-völgy Cave, Seybold-kőfejtői Cave and Budiriegelhöhlen resulted from dissolution. The weathering caused by ion exchange had a widening effect in the caves. The only pseudocave in the mountains is the Weinberger Pseudohöhle.

The 8 artificial tunnels were deepened with the aim of prospecting in the graphite schist. We consider some of these mined passages as caves formed as a consequence of the breakdown of the natural cavity . They contain some nicely developed speleothems.

The caves longer than 10 m in the K őszegi Mountains:

1.

Atlantishöhle

Sericite phyllite

Rechnitz

Appr. 80

/-5 m

2.

Budiriegelkluft

Green schist

Rechnitz

67

/-14 m

3.

Kalapos-kői Cave

Green schist

Bozsok

30,2

/+4,5 m

4.

Seybold-kőfejtői Cave

Metasandstone

Kőszeg

25,3

/+4,7 m

5.

Gotthartkluft

Sericite phyllite

Markt Neuhodis

25

/-7 m

6.

Fledermausspalte

Sericite phyllite

Markt Neuhodis

15

/+3 m

7.

Dreifrauenhöhle

Sericite phyllite

Althodis

14

/-3 m

8.

Szent Donát Cave

quartz phyllite

Kőszeg

13,2

/-3,2 m

9.

Limax Cave

Green schist

Bozsok

12,9

/+1 m

10.

Budiriegelhöhle I.

Calcareous phyllit

Rechnitz

11,7

/+1 m

Most of the caves can be found in Bozsok (17 caves), in Kőszeg (16 caves) and in Velem (7 caves). The total length of the natural caves in the Hungarian region of the mountains is 240 m and in the Austrian region is 270 m. The 8 listed artificial prospecting tunnels are 353 m in length.

 

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