U.S. Geological Survey

Potential Environmental Impacts of Quarrying Stone in Karst -- A Literature Review

By William H. Langer

U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 01-0484

Version 1.0

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The results of this report can lead to better utilization of our valuable karst resources, in sustainable ways that minimize environmental damage.

This report is the result of an extensive literature search to determine the state-of-the-knowledge regarding environmental impacts from quarrying carbonate rocks in karst. There is widespread concern for the effects that human activities, such as deforestation, agricultural practices, urbanization, tourism, military activities, water exploitation, and quarrying, have upon the karst environment. Carbonate rocks, which are one of many natural resources that are extracted from karst areas, have numerous construction, agricultural, and industrial uses, and for some uses there is no substitute. Judging from the volumes of literature about environmental damage in areas of karst, it is much more likely that problems will result from activities that aggregate mining supports (highways, bridges, housing developments, commercial centers, and so forth), than from quarrying itself. At times, quarrying is wrongly blamed for the damage created by other activities. Nevertheless, if quarrying in karst is not conducted carefully, it can result in damage to the environment and associated increases in costs for environmental compliance or liability.

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