Grade Level: 9-12
Karst landscapes denote a specific type of terrain formed by the dissolution of carbonate rocks and are characterized by the presence of sinkholes, caves, springs, and sinking streams among other landforms. It is estimated that as much as a quarter of the world's population uses water supplies that are drawn from karst aquifers. Karst terrains are fragile environments vulnerable to ground water contamination. Understanding groundwater flow in karst terrains is critical for maintaining healthy and safe drinking water and protecting dependent wildlife in karst areas.
Caves are naturally occuring subterranean voids large enough for human entry. In general, they provide environments with constant temperature and humidity levels. They are natural traps for sediments which provide opportunities for the conservation of fossils and artifacts, and have the potential to provide detailed paleoclimate archives. Some caves provide habitat for rare or endangered species, and support unique bacteria not seen on the surface of the Earth.
Last updated: February 18, 2021