Introduction to Karst Aquifers is designed for upper-level undergraduate science and engineering students (that is, students in geology, earth science, hydrology, hydrogeology, water resources management, or civil and environmental engineering), but will be of interest to all readers with some science and math background who want to know more about karst. The topic of karst is extremely broad. However, the focus of this book is narrow, addressing groundwater flow in karst aquifers.

An aquifer is a geologic formation, a group of formations, or a part of a formation that contains enough saturated permeable material to yield significant quantities of useable water to wells and springs. Thus, the focus of a karst aquifer book is on water supply in formations composed of rocks that can dissolve (aquifers composed predominantly of carbonate and evaporite rocks). The study of carbonate and evaporite sedimentary rocks is a complex field in geology involving physical, chemical, and biological processes along with an understanding of sedimentation in fluvial and marine environments. Thus, the study of karst aquifers is interdisciplinary because investigating them involves geologic mapping, geophysics, geochemistry, fluid mechanics, geomorphology, hydrology, numerical modeling, and microbiology. Most hydrogeologists develop their skills related to karst aquifers on the job or through study for an advanced degree and continue learning throughout their careers. The purpose of this introductory book is to expose readers to the complexity of flow in karst aquifers and the many methods from various disciplines that have been applied to study and characterize karst aquifers for water supply.

Sections 1 through 3 present the important topics pertaining to groundwater flow in karst aquifers in a general way. The rest of the book provides details about the methods of characterization mentioned in the first section. Section 6 describes mathematical models to provide a general understanding of the types of models applied in Karst settings. The extensive Section 10, References, provides hyperlinks to the original articles, when possible, for interested readers who have access to them. Additionally, an abbreviated glossary of terms is provided after the references section. Most terms in the glossary are often defined within the text at their first introduction with italicized text. However, a few terms, such as hysteresis or stream hydrograph, are too complex to adequately describe within the text so the definition is included in the abbreviated glossary.

For readers interested in pursuing a career specializing in karst hydrogeology, we recommend becoming proficient in basic mathematics (algebra, geometry, calculus, differential equations and statistics with probability); inorganic chemistry; physics at a level requiring knowledge of calculus; and computer programming. Programming skills are important because many commercial packages for simulating groundwater flow in karst often lack some functionality such that customization is required. Also, programming knowledge helps one understand how data are manipulated by software which is vital to using the software wisely.


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