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A Compilation of Provisional Karst Geospatial Data for the Interior Low Plateaus Physiographic Region, Central United States

U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 339

By Charles J. Taylor and Hugh L. Nelson Jr.


This report is available below as a 26–page PDF for viewing and printing.


Geospatial data needed to visualize and evaluate the hydrogeologic framework and distribution of karst features in the Interior Low Plateaus physiographic region of the central United States were compiled during 2004–2007 as part of the Ground–Water Resources Program Karst Hydrology Initiative (KHI) project. Because of the potential usefulness to environmental and water–resources regulators, private consultants, academic researchers, and others, the geospatial data files created during the KHI project are being made available to the public as a provisional regional karst dataset. To enhance accessibility and visualization, the geospatial data files have been compiled as ESRI ArcReader data folders and userinteractive Published Map Files (.pmf files), all of which are catalogued by the boundaries of surface watersheds using U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) eight–digit hydrologic unit codes (HUC–8s). Specific karst features included in the dataset include mapped sinkhole locations, sinking (or disappearing) streams, internally drained catchments, karst springs inventoried in the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) database, relic stream valleys, and karst flow paths obtained from results of previously reported water–tracer tests.




Regional Study Area

Methods of Data Compilation

ArcReader Data Folders and Files

Mapped Karst Features

Sinkholes and Internally Drained Catchments

Karst Springs

Sinking Streams

Karst Flow Paths

Relic Streams



References Cited

Appendix 1. Process for delineation of internally drained catchments using ArcGIS

Appendix 2. Process for delineation of relic stream valleys using ArcGIS


         1. Map showing geographic boundaries of the Interior Low Plateaus regional study area and major regional karst terranes.

         2. Map showing locations and boundaries of eight–digit Hydrologic Units and their identifying codes within the regional
             study area.

     3–13. Screen–capture images showing:

            3. The ArcReader user interface used for viewing and manipulating karst geospatial data files.

            4. The two topographic base maps available with the ArcReader datasets: (A) shaded–relief topography,
             and (B) contoured–map topography.

            5. Example of digital–map image plotted in ArcReader data frame, including locations of identified sinkhole depressions
             and surficial bedrock units in a portion of the Blue River Hydrologic Unit (05140104IN) in south–central Indiana.

            6. Example of plotted dye–tracer flow paths, internally drained catchments, and locations of inventoried karst springs
             in a portion of the White River Hydrologic Unit (05140104IN) in south–central Indiana.

            7. The difference in symbols used to denote sinkhole–depression locations in Kentucky and Tennessee, in a portion
             of the Red River eight–digit Hydrologic Unit (05130206), Kentucky–Tennessee.

            8. Example of plotted internally drained catchments in a portion of the Red River eight–digit Hydrologic Unit (05130206),

            9. Example of sinking streams delineated by highlighting disconnected stream reaches identified in part of the
             Lower East Fork White River eight–digit Hydrologic Unit (05120208), in south–central Indiana.

          10. Catchments for sinking streams delineated in a portion of the Lower East Fork White River eight–digit Hydrologic
             Unit (05120208), south–central Indiana.

          11. The apparent close correlation between relic streams and tracer–inferred subsurface flow paths in a portion
             of the Sinking Creek/Otter Creek Hydrologic Unit (05140104KY), in north–central Kentucky.

          12. Catchments for a portion of the Red River Hydrologic Unit (05130206), Kentucky–Tennessee, with traces of relic
             streams delineated by Geographic Information System (GIS)–terrain–processing methods: (A) relic streams “on”
             and (B) same area shown with relic streams “off.”

          13. An unnatural linear delineation of relic streams.


   1. List of major regional karst terranes and their general hydrogeologic features.

   2. List of eight-digit Hydrologic Units in the regional study area, major named streams, States, and karst terranes.

   3. General contents of ArcReader geospatial data folders.


This document is available in Portable Document Format (PDF)

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small image of front cover

Whole report (4.07 MB) – 26 pages (8.5" by 11" paper)

Suggested Citation:

Taylor, C.J., and Nelson Jr., H.L., 2008, A compilation of provisional karst geospatial data for the Interior Low Plateaus physiographic region, central United States: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 339, 26 p.

For more information about activities of the USGS Ground-Water Resources Program (GWRP), visit the GWRP program activities page.

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