Natural and anthropogenic hazards in karst areas: an introduction
Published:January 01, 2007
M. Parise, J. Gunn, 2007. "Natural and anthropogenic hazards in karst areas: an introduction", Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards in Karst Areas: Recognition, Analysis and Mitigation, M. Parise, J. Gunn
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The distinctive hydrology and landforms of karst create a very special environment. Although several types of karst have been identified worldwide, a common thread is the dominantly subterranean drainage. The paucity of water flowing at the surface, a consequence of rapid infiltration underground through a network of discontinuities in the soluble rock mass, results in two important but contrasting points: the considerable value of karst water resources (representing about 25% of the drinkable supply in the world) is strongly counteracted by the ease with which human activities can negatively impact this precious resource. The same narrow discontinuities, and the larger dissolution conduits and karst caves, are the main pathways through which potential pollutants may travel swiftly to regional groundwater bodies, or directly to springs. Contaminants can be introduced by means of dispersed infiltration as well as from point sources and are frequently transmitted with minimal filtering. This example, just one of the many natural and/or anthropogenic hazards that may affect karst areas, illustrates the fragility of karst environments. Their high vulnerability is further expressed by a very simple concept that is true for many other environments but probably shows its best evidence in karst: it is very easy to damage or destroy natural resources but restoration to a pristine situation is an extremely difficult and commonly impossible, task. Where some degree of remediation is possible, the economic cost is commonly very high.
Since the early 1960s there has been a great deal of progress in understanding the processes and landforms
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Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards in Karst Areas: Recognition, Analysis and Mitigation
The book presents an overview of the main hazards affecting karst, including collapse and subsidence phenomena, hydrological hazards and human-induced geohazards. Consideration is also given to the problems of geohazard management in karst. The geological and hydrological properties of karst terrains make them among the most fragile in the world and pose serious problems for land managers. Sustainable development in these terrains requires efforts to limit geohazards of anthropogenic origin and to recognize and mitigate against those of natural origin. Aimed at providing the reader with worldwide case studies, the contributions cover a range of geological and morphological settings. Geographically, the fourteen papers discuss very different karst areas, from North America, the Caribbean and Asia to several karst areas in Europe, including the British Isles, Spain, France and Italy.