Karst landscapes, in which dissolution of bedrock by water is the dominant geomorphic process, characterise almost 20 % of the continents and more than a quarter of the Earth's population lives on or nearby karst areas. Typical karst topography is essentially related to the subterranean drainage and geomorphology and hydrology are strictly interrelated. Karst and caves develops in many types of rock, including limestone, dolostone, gypsum, salt, quartzite and some others. These rocks, subjected to different climates, assume many morphologies and landforms. Due to a number of particular geologic and hydrogeologic features (fractured rocks, presence of karst cavities and conduits, rapid concentrated flow), karst areas are among the most vulnerable settings of the world to man-induced and/or natural hazards. Occurrence of subsidence phenomena, floods, and slope movements may be very frequent, causing serious damage in several karst areas. Agriculture and land use changes may lead to degradation of the karst landscape, potentially favouring development of erosion and eventually resulting in rocky desertification. At the same time, other anthropogenic activities such as intensive quarrying may cause partial or total destruction of the karst landscape and of near-surface caves, with the loss of their important geological and archaeological evidence. Fragility of karst environments is further evidenced by karst groundwater systems, which are extremely important water supplies (about 25% of the global population is supplied largely or entirely by karst waters), but whose quality is very susceptible to degradation. Many hazards affecting karst environments can be fully understood only through a multi-disciplinary approach, combining expertise from different fields, including but not limited to, geomorphology, engineering geology, hydrology, hydrogeology, geophysics, and geochemistry. The symposium dedicated to Geomorphology and Hazards in Karst Areas is organized within the framework of the Natural Hazards and of the Geomorphology programs of the EGU General Assembly, as an opportunity to share experiences from different areas of the world, to discuss methodologies and techniques for a better understanding of karst and the different hazards which may occur in these very fragile environments, and finally, to better understand more correct ways for karst management, particularly as regards the interrelationships with man. The aim of this session is to bring together researchers dealing with both surface and underground dissolutional and depositional karst features in different climatic and geographical situations, and the related hazards.
Co-sponsored by: International Union of Speleology, and the IGU Karst Commission and Commission of Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis