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Photo: karst landscape A. Introduction

Photo: USGS

Karst connotes an assemblage of landforms and a set of processes

Distribution of karst in the US

Map: distribution of karst in the US
Map source: USGS Open File Report 2004-1352

Learning outcomes: you should be able to:

Photo: Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy, Division of Geology and Mineral Resources, Sinkholes and Karst Terrain.

Photo: karst landscape, VirginiaB. Driving Forces


Factors controlling the solution rate

Photo: sinkhole dye injection C. Resisting Framework

Photo: USGS Utah Water Science Center, Mammoth Spring Hydrology.

Lithology: ideal conditions requires limestone that is:

Structure: porosity and permeability

D. Karst Hydrology

Surface drainage

Map: sinking streams

Red line: karst basin boundary. Blue lines: sinking streams. Dashed purple lines: tracer inferred flow paths.
Image: USGS Kentucky Water Science Center, Ground-water Resources Program Karst Hydrology Initiative.

Subsurface drainage model 1

  • Q = KIA

    Q = discharge

    K = hydraulic conductivity

    I = hydraulic gradient

    A = cross-sectional area

Subsurface drainage model 2

E. Karst Landforms

Dolines (sinkholes)

Map: topographic map Florida sinkholes

Photo: Airphoto Florida sinkholes

Map and Image:

Diagram: solution sinkhole formation
Image: Tihansky (1999) USGS Circular 1182

Diagram: cover subsidence sinkhole 
Image: Tihansky (1999) USGS Circular 1182

Diagram: cover collapse sinkhole formation
Image: Tihansky (1999) USGS Circular 1182

Photo: Sinkhole, Winter Park, FL
Winter Park, Florida
Photo: NGDC-NOAA Natural Hazards Slide Sets, Landslides Set 2.

Photo: Pseudokarst on a stagnant glacier
Pseudokarst on stagnant Bering Glacier, Alaska.
Photo: Bruce Molnia, Terraphotographics. Earth Science World Image Bank image hgmzal.

Karst valleys

Cockpit karst, mogotes, and tower karst Link: cockpit karst photo

Image: cockpit karst in Jamaica; GoogleEarth
Cockpit karst, Jamaica. Image from GoogleEarth.
Image: mogotes in Puerto Rico; GoogleEarth
Mogotes, Puerto Rica. Image from GoogleEarth.
Image: tower karst in China; GoogleEarth
Tower Karst, China. Image from GoogleEarth.


More karst images

F. Summary

Driving and resisting forces

Karst hydrology

Karst landforms

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©Karen A. Lemke:
Last revised November 4, 2014