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Science of caves and karst; a half century of progress

William B. White
Science of caves and karst; a half century of progress (in Caves and karst across time, Joshua Feinberg (editor), Yongli Gao (editor) and E. Calvin Alexander (editor))
Special Paper - Geological Society of America (August 2015) 516: 19-33


In the late 1950s to early 1960s, there was a paradigm shift in the study of caves and karst. Instead of a science of speleology, the focus changed to using caves and their contents to provide information of much wider geological interest. Cave and karst science has also borrowed heavily from other sciences. One technique that was borrowed was the restructuring of carbonate chemistry to define saturation index, CO (sub 2) partial pressure, and other parameters that are widely used to describe karst waters. Equilibrium chemistry was followed by chemical kinetics, which proved to be the key to understanding the development of conduit systems. Karst hydrology was advanced by recognizing the importance of the karst drainage basin in surface water-groundwater interactions and the hydrodynamics of conduit flow. Much new interpretation was made possible with data provided by greatly improved tracer techniques. Karst hydrology has moved from qualitative descriptions to computer models that take account of matrix, fracture, and conduit permeability. Sediment and contaminant transport as well as new understanding of sinkhole collapses and other land-use hazards have become part of the hydrogeologic framework of karst. All aspects of cave and karst science have been revolutionized by the development of accurate dating methods for speleothems and for clastic sediments in caves. Following from the dating techniques, one of the most important developments has been the use of speleothems as paleoclimate archives.

ISSN: 0072-1077
EISSN: 2331-219X
Serial Title: Special Paper - Geological Society of America
Serial Volume: 516
Title: Science of caves and karst; a half century of progress
Title: Caves and karst across time
Author(s): White, William B.
Author(s): Feinberg, Joshuaeditor
Author(s): Gao, Yonglieditor
Author(s): Alexander, E. Calvin, Jr.editor
Affiliation: Pennsylvania State University, Department of Geosciences, University Park, PA, United States
Pages: 19-33
Published: 20150806
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 57
Accession Number: 2015-091563
Categories: GeomorphologyHydrogeology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table, geol. sketch maps
Source Note: Online First
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201539
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