The Info List - Karst

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is a topography formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves.[1] It has also been documented for more weathering-resistant rocks, such as quartzite, given the right conditions.[2] Subterranean drainage may limit surface water, with few to no rivers or lakes. However, in regions where the dissolved bedrock is covered (perhaps by debris) or confined by one or more superimposed non-soluble rock strata, distinctive karst features may occur only at subsurface levels and be totally missing above ground. The study of karst is considered of prime importance in petroleum geology since as much as 50% of the world's hydrocarbon reserves are hosted in porous karst systems.[3]


1 Etymology 2 Early studies 3 Chemistry

3.1 Dissolution mechanism

4 Morphology 5 Hydrology 6 Interstratal karst 7 Kegelkarst 8 Pseudokarst 9 Notable karst areas 10 List of terms for karst-related features 11 See also 12 References 13 Further reading 14 External links

Etymology[edit] The English word karst was borrowed from German Karst
in the late 19th century.[4] The German word came into use before the 19th century.[5] According to the prevalent interpretation, the term is derived from the German name for the Karst
region (Italian: Carso), a limestone plateau above the city of Trieste
in the northern Adriatic (now located on the border between Slovenia
and Italy, in the 19th century it was part of the Austrian Littoral).[6] Scholars disagree, however, on whether the German word (which shows no metathesis) was borrowed from Slovene.[7][8] The Slovene common noun kras was first attested in the 18th century, and the adjective form kraški in the 16th century.[9] As a proper noun, the Slovene form Grast was first attested in 1177,[10] referring to the Karst
Plateau—a region in Slovenia
partially extending into Italy, where the first research on karst topography was carried out. The Slovene words arose through metathesis from the reconstructed form *korsъ,[9] borrowed from Dalmatian Romance carsus.[10] Ultimately, the word is of Mediterranean origin,[10] believed to derive from some Romanized Illyrian base.[9] It has been suggested that the word may derive from the Proto-Indo-European root karra- "rock".[10][11] The name may also be connected to the oronym Kar(u)sádios oros cited by Ptolemy, and perhaps also to Latin Carusardius.[9][10] Early studies[edit]

Karstic limestones as statuary in Shenyang
Imperial Palace, Shenyang, China

Johann Weikhard von Valvasor, a pioneer of the study of karst in Slovenia
and a fellow of the Royal Society
Royal Society
for Improving Natural Knowledge, London, introduced the word karst to European scholars in 1689, describing the phenomenon of underground flows of rivers in his account of Lake Cerknica.[12] Jovan Cvijić
Jovan Cvijić
greatly advanced the knowledge of karst regions, so much that he became known as the "father of karst geomorphology". Primarily working with the karstic regions of the Balkans, Cvijić's 1893 publication Das Karstphänomen describes landforms such as karren, dolines and poljes.[3] In a 1918 publication Cvijić proposed a cyclical model for karstic landscape development.[3][13] Karst hydrology emerged as a discipline in the late 1950s and early 1960s in France. Previously, the activities of cave explorers, called speleologists, had been dismissed as more of a sport than a science, meaning that underground karstic caves and their associated watercourses were, from a scientific perspective, understudied.[14] Chemistry[edit]

lake (Doberdò del Lago, Italy) fed by an underground water source into a depression with no surface inlet or outlet

in the causse de Sauveterre, Lozère, France

The development of karst occurs whenever acidic water starts to break down the surface of bedrock near its cracks, or bedding planes. As the bedrock (typically limestone or dolostone) continues to degrade, its cracks tend to get bigger. As time goes on, these fractures will become wider, and eventually a drainage system of some sort may start to form underneath. If this underground drainage system does form, it will speed up the development of karst formations there because more water will be able to flow through the region, giving it more erosive power.[15] Dissolution mechanism[edit] The carbonic acid that causes karstic features is formed as rain passes through the atmosphere picking up carbon dioxide (CO2), which dissolves in the water. Once the rain reaches the ground, it may pass through soil that can provide much more CO2 to form a weak carbonic acid solution, which dissolves calcium carbonate. The primary reaction sequence in limestone dissolution is the following:

H2O + CO2 → H2CO3

CaCO3 + H2CO3 → Ca2+ + 2 HCO− 3

Lijiang River, Guilin, China

In particular and very rare conditions such as encountered in the past in Lechuguilla Cave
in New Mexico
New Mexico
(and more recently in the Frasassi Caves in Italy), other mechanisms may also play a role. The oxidation of sulfides leading to the formation of sulfuric acid can also be one of the corrosion factors in karst formation. As oxygen (O2)-rich surface waters seep into deep anoxic karst systems, they bring oxygen, which reacts with sulfide present in the system (pyrite or hydrogen sulfide) to form sulfuric acid (H2SO4). Sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid
then reacts with calcium carbonate, causing increased erosion within the limestone formation. This chain of reactions is:

H2S + 2 O2 → H2SO4 (sulfide oxidation)

H2SO4 + 2 H2O → SO2− 4 + 2 H3O+ (sulfuric acid dissociation)

CaCO3 + 2 H3O+ → Ca2+ + H2CO3 + 2 H2O (calcium carbonate dissolution)

CaCO3 + H2SO4 → CaSO4 + H2CO3 (global reaction leading to calcium sulfate)

CaSO4 + 2 H2O → CaSO4 · 2 H2O (hydration and gypsum formation)

This reaction chain forms gypsum.[16] Morphology[edit]

pavement in Dent de Crolles, France

The karstification of a landscape may result in a variety of large- or small-scale features both on the surface and beneath. On exposed surfaces, small features may include solution flutes (or rillenkarren), runnels, limestone pavement (clints and grikes), collectively called karren or lapiez. Medium-sized surface features may include sinkholes or cenotes (closed basins), vertical shafts, foibe (inverted funnel shaped sinkholes), disappearing streams, and reappearing springs. Large-scale features may include limestone pavements, poljes, and karst valleys. Mature karst landscapes, where more bedrock has been removed than remains, may result in karst towers, or haystack/eggbox landscapes. Beneath the surface, complex underground drainage systems (such as karst aquifers) and extensive caves and cavern systems may form. Erosion
along limestone shores, notably in the tropics, produces karst topography that includes a sharp makatea surface above the normal reach of the sea, and undercuts that are mostly the result of biological activity or bioerosion at or a little above mean sea level. Some of the most dramatic of these formations can be seen in Thailand's Phangnga Bay
Phangnga Bay
and at Halong Bay
Halong Bay
in Vietnam. Calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate
dissolved into water may precipitate out where the water discharges some of its dissolved carbon dioxide. Rivers which emerge from springs may produce tufa terraces, consisting of layers of calcite deposited over extended periods of time. In caves, a variety of features collectively called speleothems are formed by deposition of calcium carbonate and other dissolved minerals. Hydrology[edit]

A karst spring in the Jura mountains
Jura mountains
near Ouhans
in eastern France
at the source of the river Loue

Farming in karst areas must take into account the lack of surface water. The soils may be fertile enough, and rainfall may be adequate, but rainwater quickly moves through the crevices into the ground, sometimes leaving the surface soil parched between rains. A karst fenster occurs when an underground stream emerges onto the surface between layers of rock, cascades some distance, and then disappears back down, often into a sinkhole. Rivers in karst areas may disappear underground a number of times and spring up again in different places, usually under a different name (like Ljubljanica, the river of seven names). An example of this is the Popo Agie River in Fremont County, Wyoming. At a site simply named "The Sinks" in Sinks Canyon State Park, the river flows into a cave in a formation known as the Madison Limestone
and then rises again 800 m (1⁄2 mi) down the canyon in a placid pool. A turlough is a unique type of seasonal lake found in Irish karst areas which are formed through the annual welling-up of water from the underground water system. Water supplies from wells in karst topography may be unsafe, as the water may have run unimpeded from a sinkhole in a cattle pasture, through a cave and to the well, bypassing the normal filtering that occurs in a porous aquifer. Karst
formations are cavernous and therefore have high rates of permeability, resulting in reduced opportunity for contaminants to be filtered. Groundwater
in karst areas is just as easily polluted as surface streams. Sinkholes have often been used as farmstead or community trash dumps. Overloaded or malfunctioning septic tanks in karst landscapes may dump raw sewage directly into underground channels. The karst topography also poses difficulties for human inhabitants. Sinkholes can develop gradually as surface openings enlarge, but progressive erosion is frequently unseen until the roof of an underground cavern suddenly collapses. Such events have swallowed homes, cattle, cars, and farm machinery. In the United States, sudden collapse of such a cavern-sinkhole swallowed part of the collection of the National Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum
in Bowling Green, Kentucky
Bowling Green, Kentucky
in 2014.[17] Interstratal karst[edit] Interstratal karst is a karstic landscape which is developed beneath a cover of insoluble rocks. Typically this will involve a cover of sandstone overlying limestone strata undergoing solution. In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
extensive doline fields developed at Mynydd Llangynidr across a plateau of Twrch Sandstone
overlying concealed Carboniferous Limestone.[18] Kegelkarst[edit] Kegelkarst is a type of tropical karst terrain with numerous cone-like hills, formed by cockpits, mogotes, and poljes and without strong fluvial erosion processes. This terrain is found in Cuba, Jamaica, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.[19] Pseudokarst[edit] Pseudokarsts are similar in form or appearance to karst features but are created by different mechanisms. Examples include lava caves and granite tors—for example, Labertouche Cave
in Victoria, Australia—and paleocollapse features. Mud Caves
Mud Caves
are an example of pseudokarst. Notable karst areas[edit] Main article: List of notable karst areas The world's largest limestone karst is Australia's Nullarbor Plain. Slovenia
has the world's highest risk of sinkholes, while the western Highland Rim
Highland Rim
in the eastern United States is at the second-highest risk of karst sinkholes.[20][21] Mexico hosts important karstic regions in the Yucatán peninsula
Yucatán peninsula
and Chiapas.[22] The South China
in the provinces of Guizhou, Guangxi, and Yunnan provinces is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. List of terms for karst-related features[edit] See also: Speleothem Many karst-related terms derive from South Slavic languages, entering scientific vocabulary through early research in the Western Balkan Dinaric Alpine karst.

Abîme, a vertical shaft in karst that may be very deep and usually opens into a network of subterranean passages Cenote, a deep sinkhole, characteristic of Mexico, resulting from collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath Foibe, an inverted funnel-shaped sinkhole Scowle, porous irregular karstic landscape in a region of England Turlough (turlach), a type of disappearing lake characteristic of Irish karst Uvala, a collection of multiple smaller individual sinkholes that coalesce into a compound sinkhole. Word derives from South Slavic languages. Karren, bands of bare limestone forming a surface Limestone
pavement, a landform consisting of a flat, incised surface of exposed limestone that resembles an artificial pavement Polje
(karst polje, karst field), a large flat specifically karstic plain. The name "polje" derives from South Slavic languages. Doline, also sink or sinkhole, is a closed depression draining underground in karst areas. The name "doline" comes from dolina, meaning "valley", and derives from South Slavic languages. Karst
spring, a spring emerging from karst, originating a flow of water on the surface Ponor, also sink or sinkhole, where surface flow enters an underground system. Derived from Slovenian Sinking river, or ponornica in South Slavic languages Karst fenster ("karst window"), a feature where a spring emerges briefly, with the water discharge then abruptly disappearing into a nearby sinkhole

See also[edit]

Glaciokarst Thermokarst Speleology Scowle Subterranean river List of landforms Karstjäger


^ What is Karst, University of Texas at Austin ^ Geomorphological Landscapes of the World. ^ a b c Ford, Derek (2007). " Jovan Cvijić
Jovan Cvijić
and the founding of karst geomorphology". Environmental Geology. 51: 675–684. doi:10.1007/s00254-006-0379-x.  ^ Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. 2002. Vol. 1, A–M. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 1481. ^ Seebold, Elmar. 1999. Kluge Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, 23rd edition. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, p. 429. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary ^ Pfeiffer, Dieter. 1961. "Zur Definition von Begriffen der Karst-Hydrologie." Zeitschrift der Deutschen Geologischen Gesellschaft 113: 51–60, p. 52 ^ Pörtner, Rudolf. 1986. Bevor die Römer kamen: Städte und Stätten deutscher Urgeschichte. Rasatt: Pabel-Moewig Verlag, p. 88. ^ a b c d Snoj, Marko. 2003. Slovenski etimološki slovar. 2nd edition. Ljubljana: Modrijan, p. 318. ^ a b c d e Bezlaj, France
(ed.). 1982. Etimološki slovar slovenskega jezika, vol. 2, K–O. Ljubljana: SAZU, p. 82. ^ Gams, I., Kras v Sloveniji — v prostoru in casu ( Karst
in Slovenia
in space and time), 2003, ISBN 961-6500-46-5. ^ Paul Larsen, Scientific accounts of a vanishing lake: Janez Valvasor, Lake Cerknica
Lake Cerknica
and the New Philosophy, 2003. ^ Cvijić, Jovan (1918). "Hydrographie souterraine et évolution morphologique du Karst". Recueil des travaux de l'institut de géographie alpine (in French). 6 (4): 375–426. Retrieved June 5, 2017.  ^ Gilli, Éric; Mangan, Christian; Mudry, Jacques (2012). Hydrogeology: Objectives, Methods, Applications. Translated by Fandel, Choél. CRC Press. p. 7.  ^ "What is Karst
(and why is it important)?". Karst
Waters Institute.  ^ Galdenzi, S.; Cocchioni, M.; Morichetti, L.; Amici, V.; Scuri, S. (2008). "Sulfidic ground water chemistry in the Frasassi Cave, Italy" (PDF). Journal of Cave
and Karst
Studies. 70 (2): 94–107.  ^ Mood somber, repairs uncertain as Corvette museum opens. CNN.com ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-11-20. Retrieved 2013-03-03.  ^ Whittow, John (1984). Dictionary of Physical Geography. London: Penguin, 1984, p 292. ISBN 0-14-051094-X. ^ Austin Peay State University : Harned Bowl work not to blame for new sinkhole, say experts ^ What is Karst
topography and why should you care? - Clarksville, TN Online ^ Mora, L., Bonifaz, R., López-Martínez, R. (2016). "Unidades geomorfológicas de la cuenca del Río Grande de Comitán, Lagos de Montebello, Chiapas-México" (PDF). Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana (in Spanish). 68 (3): 377–394. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)

Further reading[edit]

Ford, D.C., Williams, P., Karst
Hydrogeology and Geomorphology, John Wiley and Sons Ltd., 2007, ISBN 978-0-470-84996-5 Jennings, J.N., Karst
Geomorphology, 2nd ed., Blackwell, 1985, ISBN 0-631-14032-8 Palmer, A.N., Cave
Geology, 2nd Printing, Cave
Books, 2009, ISBN 978-0-939748-66-2 Sweeting, M.M., Karst
Landforms, Macmillan, 1973, ISBN 0-231-03623-X van Beynen, P. (Ed.), Karst
management, Springer, 2011, ISBN 978-94-007-1206-5 Vermeulen, J.J., Whitten, T., "Biodiversity and Cultural Property in the Management of Limestone
Resources in East Asia: Lessons from East Asia", The World Bank, 1999, ISBN 978-0-821345-08-5

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
has media related to: Karst

has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Karst.

Speleogenesis Network, a communication platform for physical speleology and karst science research Speleogenesis and Karst
Aquifers – a large glossary of Karst
related terms Acta Carsologica – research papers and reviews in all the fields related to karst CDK Citizens of the Karst
– Citizens of the Karst, a non profit NGO dedicated to the protection of the Puerto Rican Karst
(English site available) The Virtual Cave's page on karst landforms

Information Portal
- an open-access digital library linking scientists, managers, and explorers

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