Karst is of great importance to humanity and ecological systems because karst terrain makes up about 10 percent of the Earth’s surface, provides fresh drinking water to an estimated 10 percent of the world’s population and by some estimates supplies up to 25 percent of groundwater withdrawn for agricultural and industrial water use. Karst occurs in more than 100 countries, hence there is an immense scientific literature in many languages about karst. Many karst books are planned for publication by the Groundwater Project to cover many aspects of karst. This book: Introduction to Karst Aquifers in the topic domain: Introduction to Physical and Chemical processes is the first of the karst books.

Previous books published by the GW-Project and most of those yet to be published are about groundwater flow represented by Darcy’s law with flow concepts founded on porous media flow theory and hydraulic conductivity of granular or fractured media. In contrast, flow in karst is often non-Darcian. Karst systems have focused outlets, mostly at springs, and the hydraulic conductivity is dominated by solution channels and cavities. Understanding karst systems is a multidisciplinary endeavor aimed at unlocking the mysteries of this most majestic part of the Earth’s subsurface to underpin water use and management. This introductory book provides a brief discussion of: karst-aquifer features; genesis of karst; water flow in karst and pertinent fluid mechanics; many types of investigative methods for characterizing and understanding karst; and mathematical modeling applied to karst. This lays the foundation for other karst books being written by the GW-Project and is aimed at introducing readers to groundwater flow in karst with recognition of key differences from other types of aquifer systems.

The authors of this book are senior researchers of Geological Surveys. In combination, they have broad experience in applying diverse methods to understanding a variety of karst systems. In her 35-year career at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) where she attained the level of Regional Groundwater Specialist, Eve Kuniansky provided technical assistance to groundwater projects throughout the southeastern USA, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and in China, Israel, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa through the USGS International Water Resources Branch, and led the USGS Karst Interest Group. Chuck Taylor heads the Water Resources Section of the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) where his primary research is in karst hydrogeology and aquifer characterization. John Williams has advised many government agencies in multiple nations (including the United States, Canada, United Arab Emirates, and Iraq) on issues related to contaminated fractured-bedrock aquifers. Fred Paillet was Chief of the USGS Borehole Geophysics Research Project for many years and has held visiting appointments at universities throughout the world, improving characterization of karst aquifers through advanced analysis of geophysical well logs that are key to determining flow in karst.

John Cherry, The Groundwater Project Leader
Guelph, Ontario, Canada, January 2022


Introduction to Karst Aquifers Copyright © 2022 by Eve L. Kuniansky, Charles J. Taylor, and Frederick Paillet. All Rights Reserved.