by Tony Cerezo, Julie Dutil
The term “Karst terrain” refers to a distinctive landscape formed by the dissolution of rocks by surface or ground water. About 10% of the surface of the earth is occupied by karst landscape. It is estimated that as much as one quarter of the world’s population depends on water supplied from karst areas (USGS). Jagged hills, narrow gorges, pinnacles, sinkholes (dolines), disappearing streams, underground drainage systems, and caves characterize the karst topography.
According to the US Geological Survey, a cave is “a natural opening in the ground extending beyond the zone of light and large enough to permit the entry of man.” Throughout history, caverns and caves have provided safe shelter, protecting our ancestors from harsh environmental conditions. Paradoxically, they have been a source of fascination, fear, and have fed our appetite for exploration. With today’s technology, past frontiers are within our reach. We can continue exploring and push the limits even further.