Saturday, February 16, 2013

What is Karst?

Karst is a specific land-form that is made from mainly carbonic rocks which slowly dissolves when exposed to slightly acidic water.  This is why Karstic landforms feature so many caves and sinkholes.  Other unique features include sunken streams (which resurfaces later on, sometimes miles away from sinking under), numerous springs (often times from streams resurfacing) and rolling hills alongside deep valleys (even though the rocks underneath may not be “folded”).
 (Geology Cafe)
We got the name “Karst” from the German “Karst.”  Karst, in German, comes from the Slovakian “Krass,” which is the name of a region in the Slovakian Republic that has many karstic features and is indeed Karstic.
What exactly causes an area to have these features such as caves and sinkholes?  It is basically carbon chemistry.  When slightly acidic water comes in contact with carbonic materials on bedrock, the carbons dissolve in the water.  The water sinks quickly down to the ground, dissolving other carbonic material that gets in the way.  Before long, holes (aka caverns or caves) are created under the surface.  Eventually, the roof of these caves will collapse. Above ground, this collapse is seen as a “sinkhole.”

Ten to fifteen percent of the Earth’s surface has this type of landform as the map from will show (  

Unfortunately, millions of people around the world populate karstic regions around the world.  This is does cause some environmental hazards. These hazards include sinkholes.  When a large cave collapses, sinkholes big enough to swallow houses and buildings could easily form very quickly and without warning.  Farmlands could be lost forever.

There is, however, another hazard associated with Karstic regions that really needs to be considered here.  That is the water filtering system underneath the population.  Water goes through the ground much quicker in Karstic areas, bypassing the normal filtering system that cleanses the water from many things that would contaminate it.  Water drawn up from a well could easily get polluted by a nearby septic tank that is leaking everywhere, or by fuel tanks up the road underneath the filling station there.  Loss of fresh clean water is a serious hazard!  Unfortunately, in a lot of Karstic areas, sinkholes are used as dumping grounds for garbage.  If it rains, you can bet that the groundwater is NOT going to be potable!

In the United States, Karstic areas are all over the place.  Major areas include the Appalachian Mountains in the Eastern U.S., the Ozark Plateau in the Mid-South, Southern Rocky Mountains in New Mexico, Edwards Plateau in Central Texas and just about the whole northern half of Florida.  On this blog page, I will concentrate on the first two (mainly the Ozarks, but a lot of the Appalachians as well), though I will also go elsewhere to see what all I can find.  

I personally love the Ozarks.  My family has lived in or at the edge of this plateau for about 6 generations now.  I also have ancestral roots going to the Southern Appalachians (like Tennessee and North Carolina).  This blog page is only a small part of a much bigger research into my family background.  However, information presented here will be general enough to where I can easily share the information and have others interested in matters of history, geology, anthropology, geography, meteorology, sociology, climatology and other fields thoroughly enjoy the material.   



(n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2013, from Geology Cafe:
(n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2013, from;_ylu=X3oDMTBtdXBkbHJyBHNlYwNmcC1hdHRyaWIEc2xrA3J1cmw-/SIG=12t9cumal/EXP=1361070440/**http%3a//
Geography. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2013, from Ohio Wesleyan University:

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