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Interdisciplinary studies of karst terrains: development, natural hazards and anthropogenic pressures
Convener: Mario Parise  | Co-Conveners: Natasa Ravbar , CharLotte Krawczyk , Damien Closson , Torsten Dahm , Eoghan Holohan , Georg Kaufmann 
 / Mon, 13 Apr, 13:30–15:00
 / Attendance Mon, 13 Apr, 17:30–19:00

Karst areas are among the world’s most vulnerable settings to both man-induced and natural hazards. This is due to the peculiar geologic and hydrologic features of karst, including cavities and conduits, rapid and concentrated water flow, and direct surface to subsurface connectivity. Beside the classical natural hazards in karst (sinkholes and subsidence phenomena, flash floods, slope movements), many anthropogenic activities (e.g. agriculture, land use changes, quarrying) may result in degradation or loss of karst landscapes and resources. In particular, karst groundwater systems, which largely or entirely supply water to about 25% of the global population, are very susceptible to degradation of their quality (e.g., by over-exploitation, sea-water intrusion, and pollution). Many hazards affecting karst environments can be fully understood only through a multi-disciplinary approach, combining expertise from fields, such as geomorphology, engineering geology, hydrology, geotechnical engineering, remote sensing, modelling, geophysics, and geochemistry.
This session aims for better understanding and management of the highly fragile karst environments and their different hazards, particularly as regards interrelationships with man. A focal point of the session will be on the processes leading to sinkhole formation, by far the most typical geo-hazard in many regions across the globe. Several recent or ongoing sinkhole collapses (e.g. in Florida, Louisiana, China, Russia, Germany and the Dead Sea region) have led to infrastructural damage and related economic losses and even to loss of life. The session will be dedicated, but not limited to, the following topics:
(1) What are the driving mechanisms of karst dissolution and on what time scales to they operate?
(2) How do variations in geo-mechanical or hydrological factors affect the development of karstification and lead to formation of sinkholes, or development of other hazards?
(3) Are there geophysical, geodetic, or other precursors to sinkhole collapse or other hazards, and how might they be detected and monitored?
(4) What are the factors threatening karst resources quality and quantity?
(5) How can hazards in and to karst be mitigated?
The conveners look forward to receiving contributions that share experiences and case studies from karst areas worldwide. Contributions that present a multi-disciplinary approach to karst-related problems, and/or that discuss new methodologies and techniques, are particularly encouraged.

Note: A selection of studies presented at this session will be considered for publication in a special issue of a relevant international journal.