Definition of speleothem in English:



  • A structure formed in a cave by the deposition of minerals from water, e.g. a stalactite or stalagmite.

    • ‘Stalactites, stalagmites, and other speleothems - or cave formations - grow as water travels through rocks, dissolves minerals, and then seeps into caves and redeposits those substances.’
    • ‘I am also aware that speleothems are rarely pure calcium carbonate, but often contain large amounts of impurities such as soil or clay particles or surface organic material.’
    • ‘Water chemical data are important for palaeohydrological interpretations, but in this case we restrict the discussion to available water data from close to the studied speleothems.’
    • ‘The agencies enforce the 1988 Federal Cave Resources Protection Act, which does little to protect caves other than sending those caught removing speleothems to jail for up to a year.’
    • ‘The most common type of speleothems studied for palaeoclimate are cylindrical stalagmites.’


1950s: from Greek spēlaion ‘cave’ + thema ‘deposit’.