Identify karst features on a topographic map and aerial photo

Note: Please refer to the GETTING STARTED module to learn how to maneuver through and answer the lab questions using Google Earth ().


Students should know and understand these terms:

CavernKarst landscapeSubsidence
Carbonate rockSinkholeTower karst
Disappearing streamSpeleothemsWater table


After successfully completing this module, you should be able to the following tasks:

·         Identify karst features on a topographic map and aerial photo

·         Identify land uses associated with karst topography

·         Identify components of the groundwater system

·         Explain how water enters, flows through, and exits the ground

·         Explain how caves and caverns are formed

·         Explain how the hydrologic cycle functions

·         Identify land uses associated with groundwater


This module examines Karst landscapes and groundwater. Topics include caves, caverns, sinkholes, aquifers, infiltration and groundwater movement. While these topics may appear to be disparate, you will learn how they are inherently related. The modules start with four opening topics, or vignettes, which are found in the accompanying Google Earth file. These vignettes introduce basic concepts karst landscapes and groundwater. Some of the vignettes have animations, videos, or short articles that will provide another perspective or visual explanation for the topic at hand.  After reading the vignette and associated links, answer the following questions. Please note that some links might take a while to download based on your Internet speed.

 Expand the INTRODUCTION folder and then select Topic 1: Introduction.

 Read Topic 1: Introduction.

Question 1: What human disturbance is evident in both surface and subterranean karst environments?

A.   Human dwellings

B.   Pollution

C.   Agricultural land use

D.   Dams for hydroelectric power

 Read Topic 2: Karst Landscapes.

Question 2: How are caves and caverns, once underground, now visible on the surface in mature tropical karst environment?

A.   A decrease in water levels exposed the caves and caverns

B.   Terracing of mountains for agricultural production exposed them

C.   Tectonic uplift and weathering and erosion of mountains exposed them

D.   Removal of vegetation exposed the caves and caverns