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Defining tafoni: Re-examining terminological ambiguity for cavernous rock decay phenomena

Groom, Kaelin M.; Allen, Casey D.; Paradise, Thomas R.; Mol, Lisa; Hall, Kevin

Authors

Kaelin M. Groom

Casey D. Allen

Thomas R. Paradise

Lisa Mol Lisa.Mol@uwe.ac.uk
Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography

Kevin Hall



Abstract

© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015. Cavernous rock decay processes represent a global phenomenon, ubiquitous to all environments, with the viewable-in-landscape form usually being the final descriptor (e.g. “alveoli”), sometimes alluding to the specific decay process (e.g. “pitting”), other times not (e.g. “honeycombing”). Yet, definitive terminology remains inconsistent, usually owing to variability in dimension, morphometry, distribution, and/or academic lineage. This lack of an established lexicon limits scientific collaboration and can generate scientific bias. With no official consensus on appropriate distinctions, researchers and scientists must either be familiar with all the possible terminology, or know the apparent distinction between “forms”—which can seem arbitrary and, even more frustrating, often differs from researcher to researcher, scientist to scientist. This article reviews the historical and contemporary progression of scientific inquiry into this decay—and, arguably, erosional—feature to identify lexical inconsistencies and promote a singular unifying term for future scholars. Ultimately, the authors support using “tafoni” (singular: “tafone”) as the non-scalar universal term—the form created by numerous processes involved in cavernous decay features—and strongly suggest researchers adopt the same vernacular in order to promote collaboration.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2015
Journal Progress in Physical Geography
Print ISSN 0309-1333
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 39
Issue 6
Pages 775-793
Institution Citation Paradise, T. R., Allen, C. D., Groom, K. M., Groom, K. M., Allen, C. D., Mol, L., …Hall, K. (2015). Defining tafoni: Re-examining terminological ambiguity for cavernous rock decay phenomena. Progress in Physical Geography, 39(6), 775-793. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309133315605037
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0309133315605037
Keywords cavernous weathering, honeycombing, tafoni, terminology, rock decay
Publisher URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0309133315605037