U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1154

Preliminary Map of Potentially Karstic Carbonate Rocks in the Central and Southern Appalachian States

By D.J. Weary

Published 2008
Available online only

Karst is a landscape produced by dissolution of rocks and the development of integrated subterranean drainages dominated by the flow of ground water in solutionally enlarged conduits. Karst landscapes typically include cave entrances, sinkholes, blind valleys, losing streams, springs, and large and small-scale solution features on bedrock surfaces. Water-bearing rocks beneath the surface containing solutionally enlarged pores, fractures, or conduits are referred to as karst aquifers. About 40 percent of all ground water extracted in the United States comes from karst aquifers (Karst Waters Institute). Karst means many things to many people. To most cavers and many speleologists, karst means areas containing caves. To engineers, home builders, local governments, and insurance companies, karst is exemplified by the occurrence of sinkholes and subsidence hazard. To hydrologists, well drillers, and environmental consultants, the focus on karst may be more limited to karst aquifers and springs. Precise figures are not available, but ground collapses in karst areas in the United States require hundreds of millions of dollars in repair and mitigation costs each year. Most karst in the United States is formed in either carbonate or evaporite rocks. This map depicts only areas of carbonate rock outcrop, the chief host for karst formation in the eastern United States. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the National Cave and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI), the National Speleological Society (NSS), and various State geological surveys, is working on a new national karst map that will delineate areas of karst and karst-like features nationwide. This product attempts to identify potentially karstic areas of the Appalachian states as defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), with the addition of the state of Delaware. This map is labeled preliminary because there is an expectation that it will be revised and updated as part of a new national karst map.

Data Available in This Report

Preliminary Map of Potentially Karstic Carbonate Rocks in the Central and Southern Appalachian States: complete OF 2008-1154 map plate (Appalachian_karst.pdf – 35.7-MB PDF file)

README: file structure of data and other miscellaneous information (README.txt – 8-KB .txt file)

GIS data available as both compressed shapefiles and personal geodatabase files. The shapefiles are smaller (shapefiles.zip – 9.6-MB .zip file). An ArcMap file (Appalachian_karst.mxd) is included for display of the personal geodatabase data set (geodatabase.zip – 367.5-MB .zip file; ArcGIS V. 9.2 and above required).

Metadata: appalachian_karst_metadata.htm (38-KB .html file)

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  Thumbnail image of the Appalachian karst map

Thumbnail image of “Preliminary Map of Potentially Karstic Carbonate Rocks in the Central and Southern Appalachian States” (detailed graphic files may be downloaded at left).


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Direct questions and comments to:
David J. Weary
U.S. Geological Survey
Email: dweary@usgs.gov
Phone: (703) 648-6897