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Earth triangle2 Karst

Karst topography is a landscape created by groundwater dissolving sedimentary rock such as limestone.

This creates land forms such as shafts, tunnels, caves, and sinkholes. Groundwater seeps into and through these land forms. The result is a scenic landscape which is beautiful but fragile, and vulnerable to erosion and pollution.

Components of karst:

Springs: Natural resurgence, or discharge, of groundwater from rock or soil to the surface.

Caves: Natural cavities beneath the surface of the earth, created by groundwater dissolving rock.

Sinkholes: Rounded depressions in the landscape. Sinkholes are often collapsed caves and can be quite deep, or they can be shallow holes. Sinkholes collect surface water running off the surrounding land, and the runoff goes directly into the groundwater.

Losing Streams: Losing streams, or sinking streams, lose part or all of their flow to the groundwater system by suddenly disappearing underground. Bryant Creek is a losing stream, typical of the karst topography found in the Ozarks. 

Natural bridges: Arches that are the remnants of collapsed caves, usually fairly short.

Seeps: Slow, small discharges of water from rock or soil to the surface. 

Karst in the Watershed

From the Karst Series in the West Plains Daily Quill.

Part 1 presents an overview of water movement in the region's karst topography, and looks at the dye tracings which help locate the recharge areas for springs. 

Part 2  presents discoveries on why groundwater becomes cloudy at times, and the connection to our drinking water. Lots of information on losing streams, springs and sinkholes.

Streamflow between Bryant and North Fork:
A 1968 journal article that established the early observations about the underground relationship between Bryant Creek and North Fork River. Includes maps.

triangle In This Section

documentary "Karst in the Ozarks"
a video documentary, shows origins of Ozark rocks, caves, and springs, and explains dye traces, which reveal sources for spring water.

For Teachers: extensive curriculum to accompany "Karst in the Ozarks" video.

Karst Cutaway Animation
This interactive graphic explains karst features and  sources of pollution.
landscape Karst Features: Photos Karst Structures: Interactive diagram with definitions.Illustration: Geo-HydrologyMore for Teachers:Karst Resource Packet: Support materials on karst with lesson plans and student worksheets.Sinkhole Animation
Interactive animation shows how sinkholes form.