Standard Article

Karst Topography

Ground Water Hydrology

  1. David M. Bednar Jr.

Published Online: 15 APR 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.gw601

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Bednar, D. M. 2005. Karst Topography. Water Encyclopedia. 5:243–248.

Author Information

  1. Michael Baker, Jr. Inc., Shreveport, Louisiana

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2005


Karst is an irregularly shaped area of land where underground drainage dominates and has resulted in dissolving the bedrock to form distinctive surface and subsurface features. Karst predominately develops on lands underlain by soluble bedrock such as limestone and dolomite, but can also form in marble, gypsum, and halite. Due to differences in climate, cover, rock type, hydrology, and geologic structure, some areas show significant expression of karst development at the surface, and others show no obvious signs at all. Chemical solution of the bedrock by groundwater leads to the formation of open passageways into and through the subsurface. The degree of development of these features varies greatly from one region to another.


  • karst;
  • dissolution;
  • epikarst;
  • sinkhole;
  • springs;
  • speleothems;
  • recharge