Commune: Olsztyn (pow. częstochowski, woj. śląskie)

Framework element or context represented:
Cenozoic karst system formed in the Jurassic limestones of the Cracow-Silesian Monocline, Cracow-Wieluń Upland.

Primary geological/geomorphological interest:
Cenozoic karst.

Comparative assessment justification:
Morphology of the area – hills, cave systems and crags – represents one of the best example of geomorphological evolution of the region during the Cenozoic.

Protection status and accessibility:
Nature reserve “Sokole Góry” (since 1953), accessible by touristic trails.

Character of site: Hills with numerous limestone crags and caves.

Area: 216 ha

Altitude: 300-402 m a.s.l.

Lithology: limestones

Discipline: Geomorphology, Palaeoenvironment, Geology of mineral deposits

Process Age: *all periods

Bedrock Age: Neogene, Paleogene, Jurassic, *all periods

Description of primary interest:
“Sokole Góry” nature reserve covers an area of seven hills (rising 40-90 m above plains) formed of the Upper Jurassic limestone. About 160 limestone crags and 90 caves have been recorded on the hills. Several long caves (Koralowa cave – 370 m) and the deepest cave in the region (80 m – Studnisko cave) have been found here. The caves were characterised by picturesque speleothems and belonged to the most beautiful in Poland. But in the 19th and first half of 20th century calcite was excavated for economic reason. In spite of anthropogenic destruction, karst forms represent still very important objects for study of geo(morpho)logical evolution of the area. General features of the morphology formed during the Neogene (also the Paleogene?), in environmental conditions differing from present-days climate, owing to selective, structurally controlled karstification. Some morphological features have developed during Quaternary, due to chemical and mechanical denudation in cold and moderate climate. Consequently four types of cavities are distinguished: 1) caves representing large fragments of paleokarst systems, 2) short sections of paleokarst conduits, 3) paleocaves partly or entirely filled with calcite and calcite-detrital sediments and opened due to calcite excavation, 4) non-karst caves formed due to gravitational process. Relic and recent (still developed) microforms are also observed on the surfaces of the limestone crags. Development of the recent microrelief is controlled by surfaces’ exposition and plant and soil cover, what is illustrated by difference of limestone microforms on southern and northern slopes of the hills. Pleistocene-Holocene fossils have been studied in one cave.


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