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Broadcast Audubon

Karst

An important aspect of managing the surface of the land, with the goal being to practice conservation landscape management, is to karst fig1also be aware of what is under the surface of the land being managed. One geologic feature that is very important is called Karst.

According to the United State Geological Survey Karst hydrogeology is typified by a network of interconnected fissures, fractures and conduits emplaced in a relatively low-permeability rock matrix. Most of the groundwater flow and transport occurs through the network of openings, while most of the groundwater storage occurs in the matrix. As a result, most karst aquifers are highly heterogeneous and anisotropic, and much of karst research has focused on developing innovative approaches for better understanding and managing these valuable water resources.

Karst is a terrain with distinctive landforms and hydrology created from the dissolution of soluble rocks, principally limestone and dolomite. Karst terrain is characterized by springs, caves, sinkholes, and a unique hydrogeology that results in aquifers that are highly productive but extremely vulnerable to contamination. In the United States, about 40% of the groundwater used for drinking comes from karst aquifers.

Some karst areas in the United States are famous, such as the springs of Florida, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, but in fact about 20 percent of the land surface in the U.S. is classified as karst. Other parts of the world with large areas of karst include China, Europe, the Caribbean, and Australia.

Karst topography is a geological formation shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, usually carbonate rock such as limestone or dolomite, but also in gypsum. It has also been documented for weathering-resistant rocks, such as quartzite, given the right conditions.

Subterranean drainage may limit surface water with few to no rivers or lakes. Many karst regions display distinctive surface features, with sinkholes being the most common. However, distinctive karst surface features may be completely absent where the soluble rock is mantled, such as by glacial debris, or confined by one or more superimposed non-soluble rock strata. Some karst regions include thousands of caves, although evidence of caves large enough for human exploration is not a required characteristic of karst.

Karst landforms are generally the result of mildly acidic water acting on weakly soluble bedrock such as limestone or dolostone. The mildly acidic water begins to dissolve the surface along fractures or bedding planes in the bedrock. Over time, these fractures enlarge as the bedrock continues to dissolve. Openings in the rock increase in size, and an underground drainage system begins to develop, allowing more water to pass through the area and accelerating the formation of underground karst features.

The video below was produced by the Ohio Department of Environmental Resources and the Ohio Geological Survey. While it is specifically about Karst in Ohio, it is of value to anyone interested in geology and Karst.

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Choosing a Green Hotel

Green HotelThere are a number of Web sites that list environmentally friendly hotels, B&B's and lodges around the world; these are a good place to start. Keep in mind that each site has its own guidelines for rating properties, so you'll want to do your homework to make sure that the hotel meets the standards you're looking for.

A few questions to ask before booking your hotel:

  • Is the hotel locally owned and operated? If not, is it at least staffed by local employees?
  • What kind of recycling programs does the hotel have (aluminum, plastic, paper, gray water, composting)?
  • Do guests have the option to reuse towels and sheets instead of having them changed every day?
  • What programs does the hotel have to reduce consumption? Examples include energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets and showers, and alternative energy sources like solar or wind power.
  • How does the hotel contribute to the local community?

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References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles
www.audubonlifestyles.com

The International Sustainability Council
www.thesustainabilitycouncil.org

MSNBC
www.msnbc.com

Green Cities
www.greencities.com

The Daily Green
www.thedailygreen.com

LandDesign
www.landdesign.com

Sustainability Campaign
sustainabilitycampaign.blogspot.com

Energy Star
www.energystar.gov

Green Hotels List
www.independenttraveler.com

 

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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

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