Isla de Mona consists of a raised table-top Miocene-Pliocene reef platform bounded on three sides by vertical cliffs, up to 80 m high. Hundreds of caves ring the periphery of the island and are preferentially developed in, but not limited to, the Lirio Limestone/Isla de Mona Dolomite contact. These flank margin caves originally formed at sea level and are now exposed at various levels by tectonic uplift of the island (Franbk 1983; Mylroie et al. 1995b). Wall cusps, a characteristic feature of flank margin caves, are ubiquitois features. Comparisons among similar caves formed in the Bahamas and Isla de Mona reveal the same overall morphology throughout the entire range of sizes and complexities. The coincidence of the primary cave development zone with the Lirio Limestone/Isla de Mona Dolomite contact may result from syngenetic speleogenesis and dolomitization rather than preferential dissolution along a lithologic boundary. Tectonic uplift and glacioeustatic sea level fluctuations produced caves at a variety of elevations. Speleothem dissolution took place in many caves under phreatic conditions, evidence these caves were flooded after an initial period of subaerial exposure and speleothem growth. Several features around the perimeter of the island are interpreted to be caves whose roofs were removed by surficial denudation processes. Several large closed depressions and dense pit cave fields are further evidence of surficial karst features. The cliff retreat around the island perimeter since the speleogenesis of the major cave systems is small based upon the distribution of the remnant cave sections.
Additional publication details
Karst development and speleogenesis, Isla de Mona, Puerto Rico