Groundwater and karst topography
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Groundwater and karst topography. #1 factor in geoenvironmental problems of the Nittany Valley. Karst topography: dissolution of limestone along fractures. CO 2 + H 2 O = H 2 CO 3 (acid) H 2 CO 3 + CaCO 3 = Ca 2+ + 2 HCO 3 -

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Groundwater and karst topography l.jpg

Groundwater and karst topography

#1 factor in geoenvironmental problems of the Nittany Valley


Slide2 l.jpg

Karst topography: dissolution of limestone along fractures

  • CO2 + H2O = H2CO3 (acid)

  • H2CO3 + CaCO3 = Ca2+ + 2 HCO3-

  • Produces 50-100 mg/L Ca & HCO3 ions dissolved in groundwater; these are carried away, perpetuating the dissolution.

  • Collapse of land surface above caverns forms a KARST topography




Slide6 l.jpg

Two possible scenarios of sinkhole subsidence

  • (a) collapse above caves

  • (b) washout of plugs above chimneys to cave systems

  • Almost always, sinkhole collapse is NOT a problem if the underground caverns are below the water table or if groundwater flow is not downward. And in all cases, the caves are preexisting.







Flow of groundwater can be predicted from hydrogeologic measurements in wells and some math l.jpg
Flow of groundwater can be predicted from hydrogeologic measurements in wells and some math


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k is permeability (ability to transport water). Note last column, and relatively rapid transport in karst limestone