Glossary of Karst Terms

Aquifer - A layer of rock or sediment containing groundwater that can be drawn for use above ground.

Biospeleology - The study of cave life.

Calcite - the crystalized form of calcium carbonate. This is the major material in stalactites and other cave formations.

Carbonic Acid - A weak acid formed by rain or other water in contact with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or in soils and vegetation.

Cave-A natural cavity beneath the earth's surface. Example: Round Spring Cave

Groundwater - The naturally occurring water found beneath the earth's surface in layers of rock or sediment.

Joints - natural cracks of fractures in rock that do not show displacement.

Karst topography - a landscape characterized by the presence of sinkholes, caves, springs, and losing streams created by groundwater solution of sedimentary rock such as limestone.

Losing Stream-A surface stream that is diverted to the underground via a sinkhole or cave within the stream's valley.

Example: Sinking Creek

Natural Bridge-The roof remnant of a collapsed cave system. A good example is visible at Grand Gulf State Park, about 30 mile south of the Ozark Riverways.

Seep-A slow, oozing natural discharge of water from rock or soil to the surface.

Sinkhole-A rounded depression in the landscape formed by solution of bedrock or collapse of an underlying cavity.

Example: Devils Well

Speleology - The study of caves.

Speleothem - Cave formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, dripstone, rimstone, soda straws, helictites, columns, etc.

Spring-A natural discharge of water from rock or soil to the surface.

Examples: Big Spring, Alley Spring, Round Spring, Pulltite Spring, Blue Spring, etc

Troglobites - Animals that spend their entire lives in caves. Often with special adaptations to the cave environment, such as long sensitive limbs.

Example: Southern Cave Fish

Troglophiles - Animals that can and do live in caves, but are capable of surving outside. May be found in similar outside environments such as under rocks or in soil.

Example: Cave Salamander

Trogloxenes - Animals that visit caves but return to the surface regularly. Caves may be used as shelter, denning sites, etc.

Examples: Bats, bears, crickets, people.

Water-filled Conduit-The vertical cracks and spaces between sedimentary layers convey water.

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Last updated: April 10, 2015

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