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Flow diversions and landform transitions between channelized surface (fluvial) and concentrated subsurface (karst conduit) flows may be common in fluviokarst landscapes. Identifying landforms associated with fluvialto- karst or karst-To-fluvial transitions shows this to be the case at three study sites in the Inner Bluegrass karst region of Kentucky. Forms representing the capture or diversion of stream flow to subsurface conduits include sinking streams, dry karst valleys, paleovalleys resulting from karst stream piracy, and alluvial collapse dolines. Features indicating karst-To-fluvial transitions include stream incision into dry karst valleys, doline breaching by surface runoff or stream incision, and formation of karst pocket valleys and karst windows. Many smaller transitional landforms also exist (e.g., stream swallets). The three study sites have about three larger transitional landform features per km2, with karst-To-fluvial features slightly more common. Dissolution in bedrock-controlled stream channels leading to karst piracy is the most common cause of fluvial to karst transitions, while general stream incision driven by Kentucky River downcutting is the main driver of karst-To-fluvial shifts. The landform transitions are examined via a network model based on hydrological probability and flow partitioning. The model is dynamically unstable. Instability indicates that local changes and disturbances that modify moisture fluxes, local relief, conduit or surface channel conveyance capacity, or hydraulic slopes are likely to persist and grow, resulting in hydrogeomorphic transitions. Evolution of the Kentucky fluviokarst is best understood as mutual reinforcement, whereby fluvial dissection can be intensified and accelerated by the presence of karst features, and karstification is enhanced by stream incision. © 2017 Gebr. Borntraeger Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany.
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Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, Vol. 61/2 (2017), 109–122 Article
Published online June 2017; published in print August 2017
© 2017 Gebr. Borntraeger Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany
DOI: 10.1127/zfg/2017/0452 0372-8854/zfg/2017/0452 $ 3.50
Landform transitions in a uviokarst landscape
Jonathan D. Phillips
Department of Geography, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40508, USA.
With 12 gures and 3 tables
Abstract: Flow diversions and landform transitions between channelized surface (uvial) and concentrated subsur-
face (karst conduit) ows may be common in uviokarst landscapes. Identifying landforms associated with uvial-
to-karst or karst-to-uvial transitions shows this to be the case at three study sites in the Inner Bluegrass karst region
of Kentucky. Forms representing the capture or diversion of stream ow to subsurface conduits include sinking
streams, dry karst valleys, paleovalleys resulting from karst stream piracy, and alluvial collapse dolines. Features
indicating karst-to-uvial transitions include stream incision into dry karst valleys, doline breaching by surface run-
off or stream incision, and formation of karst pocket valleys and karst windows. Many smaller transitional landforms
also exist (e.g., stream swallets). The three study sites have about three larger transitional landform features per km2,
with karst-to-uvial features slightly more common. Dissolution in bedrock-controlled stream channels leading to
karst piracy is the most common cause of uvial to karst transitions, while general stream incision driven by Kentucky
River downcutting is the main driver of karst-to-uvial shifts. The landform transitions are examined via a network
model based on hydrological probability and ow partitioning. The model is dynamically unstable. Instability indi-
cates that local changes and disturbances that modify moisture uxes, local relief, conduit or surface channel convey-
ance capacity, or hydraulic slopes are likely to persist and grow, resulting in hydrogeomorphic transitions. Evolution
of the Kentucky uviokarst is best understood as mutual reinforcement, whereby uvial dissection can be intensied
and accelerated by the presence of karst features, and karstication is enhanced by stream incision.
Keywords: Fluviokarst; geomorphic transitions; hydrological probability; ow partitioning, mutual reinforcement
1. Introduction
Fluviokarst systems are characterized by an intercon-
nected combination of surface and subsurface hydrologi-
cal processes and ux paths, and both uvial and karst
landforms. Mass ux patterns in uviokarst can be quite
complex, and landforms may be transitional or hybrid
forms. Both the uvial and karst components of the sys-
tem are linked to the same base level and regional drain-
age controls, and coevolve accordingly. Previous work in
a variety of uviokarst settings and over a range of time
scales has identied both karst-to-uvial and uvial-to-
karst transitions as landscapes evolve (see below). A
better understanding of these transitions is not only rel-
evant to uviokarst landscape processes and evolution
per se, but also to landscape evolution more broadly,
as several studies indicate that a combination of uvial
and karst processes produces denudation rates consider-
ably higher than either process alone (Kaufman & Braun
2001, Jaillet et al. 2004, Simms 2004, Worthington 2005,
Bahtijarevic & Faivre 2016). Further, geomorphic pro-
cesses and hydrologic uxes are not as well understood
in bedrock-controlled streams or in karst systems as
compared to alluvial streams and non-karst groundwater
systems. The uvial-karst interactions make these phe-
nomena even more complex, with important implica-
tions for water resource and land management (see, e.g.,
Thrailkill et al. 1991, Currens & Graham 1993, Ray &
Blair 2005, Reed et al. 2010, and Currens 2012 for exam-
ples relevant to the central Kentucky study area). The
purpose of this study is to document uvial:karst geo-
morphic transitions in a uviokarst landscape in central
Kentucky, USA; to gain insight into the factors driving
them; and to evaluate the signicance of such transitions
in landscape evolution. Specically, this research seeks
to determine: (1) the extent to which karst-to-uvial or
uvial-to-karst transitions are dominant in the region; (2)
whether such transitions appear to be unidirectional at
the landscape scale (i.e., progressive development of a
more karst- or uvial-dominated landscape; and (3) the
dynamical stability of uviokarst transitions.
Previous research has identied various uvial-to-
karst (FK) shifts, where uvially dominated forms and
surface ow paths transition to karst and subsurface domi-
nation (e.g., Jennings et al. 1976, Mylroie & Mylroie 1990,
110 J.D. Phillips
Fabel et al. 1996, Mills & Mills 2001, Jaillet et al. 2004,
Ortega Becerril et al. 2010, Woodside et al. 2015). Like-
wise, karst-to-uvial (KF) transformations have also been
documented (e.g., Jaillet et al. 2004, Ortega Becerril et al.
2010, Tiria & Vijulie 2013, Lipar & Ferk 2015). The Inner
Bluegrass karst region of Kentucky, the study area for this
project, is no exception (Thrailkill et al. 1991, Currens &
Graham 1993, Phillips et al. 2004, Phillips & Walls 2004,
Ray & Blair 2005, Phillips 2015, Jerin & Phillips 2017).
Previous studies of geomorphic transitions in uviokarst
have generally focused on specic features or phenomena
(e.g., karst capture or meander cutoffs in streams; Jennings
et al. 1976, Mylroie & Mylroie 1990, Fabel et al. 1996,
Jerin & Phillips 2017), or landscape scale transformations
(e.g., Sauro 2002, Bocic et al. 2015). This study focuses
on FK and KF transitions at the scale of reaches of surface
or cave streams, low-order valleys, and dolines.
An evolutionary progression from an initially u-
vial landscape to uviokarst and nally to holokarst was
postulated by a number of karst researchers (e.g., Cvijic
1918, Roglic 1964, Ford 2007). However, early on it was
recognized that this progression is both far from inevita-
ble, and potentially reversible (e.g., Sawicki 1909, White
2009). For instance, Sauro’s (2002) analysis of the Monte
Berici karst, Italy, shows uvial development as the main
morphogenetic process, driven by climate change and
tectonic uplift. Karst forms developed later on relatively
inactive or relict uvial forms as the river abandoned its
uplifted planation surface. By contrast, Ortega Becerril
et al. (2010) examined a switch from domination by karst
and dissolutional erosion to dominance by uvial forms
and mechanical erosion in Spain. In central Kentucky,
there exists a tendency for divergent evolution into
channel-rich, karst-poor and karst-rich, channel-poor
zones within the broader uviokarst landscape (Phillips
et al. 2004, Phillips & Walls 2004).
Some landscapes, such as the Una-Korana plateau
in the Dinaric karst, do approximate the uvial-to-karst
sequence (Bocic et al. 2015). However, even here the
palaeodrainage network is still evident, the uvial-to-
karst transition is still underway, and the uvial network
contains both active, intermittently active, and relic or
inactive segments (Bocic et al. 2015). In other areas there
exist strong contrasts between nearby karst- and uvi-
ally-dominated landscapes, or between karst areas with
or without uvial imprints (e.g., Benac et al. 2013, Bahti-
jarevic & Faivre 2016).
1.1. Diagnostic landforms
The landforms identied and mapped for this project
include four associated with conversion of uvially-
dominated to karst-dominated landforms or diversion of
stream ow to groundwater conduits: sinking streams,
dry karst valleys, palaeochannels, and alluvial collapse
dolines. Landforms representing KF transformations
inventoried here include karst pocket valleys, karst
windows, headcuts that convert karst valleys to incised
stream channels, and breached dolines. These are dened
and described below.
A sinking stream (also called a losing stream) is
a characterized by surface ow in the channel that is
diverted to groundwater via swallets or sinks in the val-
ley bottom, or by inltration into the bed via joints and
fractures (Fig. 1). Such streams include reaches that have
Fig. 1. Examples of dry karst valley/sinking stream and incision into dry
karst valley landforms in the Raven Run study area. The basin indicated as
a possible breached doline likely has this origin, but could also be formed by
other processes. Such features were not included in the inventory unless
they could be condently identied. Base topographic relief map derived
from 1.5 m LiDAR data.
Landform transitions in a uviokarst landscape 111
Fig. 2. Examples of karst window, paleovalley created by
karst capture, and karst pocket valley landforms in the
Shawnee Run study area. Base topographic relief map
derived from 1.5 m LiDAR data.
perennial or seasonal surface ow, and reaches that are
entirely underground (no surface channel) or where the
surface channel or valley is ephemeral and conveys ow
only during wet periods when karst cavities and conduits
are lled. A dry karst valley (Fig. 1) is predominantly
under-drained by conduits, but may convey surface dis-
charge during wet periods when conveyance capacity of
conduits is exceeded. From a surface hydrology perspec-
tive they are considered ephemeral streams or unchan-
nelled valleys. Dry karst valleys in the study region occur
only on unincised uplands, and have generally low slopes
(<0.004; all slopes are given as gradients in m m–1). A
swallet is a vertical or subvertical depression connected
to karst conduits. They may be small or incipient dolines,
drains within dolines or other depressions, or openings to
vertical shafts. Of interest here are valley bottom stream
swallets representing FK transitions. Individual swal-
lets are not mapped separately in this study, but play an
important role in sinking streams and dry karst valleys.
Piracy or cutoff of surface streams may occur due to
subsurface ow diversions, leaving uvial palaeovalleys
(Fig. 2) that indicate FK transitions. Most often these
occur in the form of meander cutoffs (see Jennings 1976,
Mylroie & Mylroie 1990, Fabel et al. 1996, Mills & Mills
2001), though other types of capture also occur (Ortega
Becerill et al. 2010, Jerin & Phillips 2017). In the incis-
ing Kentucky River gorge area, these cutoffs are elevated
above modern channels. That the process is active is indi-
cated by the fact that about 25 percent of the perennial
springs in the area studied by Ray & Blair (2005) are
associated with cutoff or bypassing by conduits of short
segments of surface stream. Alluvial collapse dolines
(Fig. 3) occur along Kentucky River oodplains and
alluvial terraces due to the collapse of insoluble alluvium
into karst cavities in the underlying carbonate rocks.
Karst pocket valleys (Tiria & Vijulie 2013, Lipar &
Ferk 2015) are formed by collapse or erosional exhu-
mation of cave passages or larger conduits (see Fig. 2).
They are characterized by limited surface drainage areas,
steep, often ampitheater-like valley heads, exposed bed-
rock within the valley, and groundwater seepage along
joints, bedding planes, and small conduits exposed within
the valley. In Kentucky, these have a perennial trickle of
downvalley ow, and sometimes larger discharges. In
the study region pocket valleys have mean slopes >0.04.
Karst windows are underground karst streams exposed by
erosional exhumation, and have perennial ow (Fig. 2).
Mean slopes are lower than those of pocket valleys. They
are exposed portions of subsurface streams, as opposed
to broader scale transitions from underground to surface
streams. A breached doline occurs when a karst depres-
sion is penetrated by a uvial channel, such that the
doline is incorporated into the surface watershed (Fig. 4).
This can occur externally, due to headward migration
of incising streams into sinkholes. Breaches can also be
generated internally, as plugging or clogging of doline
drains or swallets, or of underlying conduits, leads to sur-
face overow and resulting erosion.
As the incision signal from the Kentucky River
migrates up the tributaries over time (see below), the
headcuts of downcutting streams incise into dry karst
valleys, converting these to dominantly uvial forms and
ow. These are termed karst valley to incision transitions
(Fig. 1). Photographic examples of the indicator land-
forms are shown in Figures 5 and 6.
Fig. 3. Examples of alluvial collapse dolines on the Kentucky
River oodplain in the Polly’s Bend study area. Base topo-
graphic relief map derived from 1.5 m LiDAR data.
112 J.D. Phillips
2. Study area and methods
The Inner Bluegrass physiographic region of Kentucky
is characterized by a humid subtropical climate. Land
use is predominantly agriculture, particularly grazing,
with forests concentrated mainly along river and stream
corridors. Bedrock is dominated by horizontally bedded
Ordovician limestones, with small amounts of dolomite,
calcitic shale, and bentonite. Karst features, particularly
surface landforms, are concentrated (but by no means
limited) to the Lexington Limestone formation, which
comprises the unincised upland surfaces. Older literature
characterized this surface as the Lexington peneplain, but
it was apparently formed by unroong during uplift of
an epeirogenic feature (the Cincinnati Arch) and is not a
planation surface. Older faults are found throughout the
region, but the area has not been tectonically active dur-
ing the Quaternary.
The Inner Bluegrass is drained by the Kentucky River,
which provides the base level for both karst and uvial
systems (Fig. 7). The river began incising through the
Ordovician limestones 1.3 to 1.8 Ma in response to gla-
cial rearrangement of the ancestral Ohio River system to
which the Kentucky River drained (Teller & Goldthwait
1991, Andrews 2004). The river has incised 60 to 130 m
in that time, forming the Kentucky River gorge, and the
tributaries have downcut in response. Larger tributar-
ies include a strongly incised lower reach graded to the
Kentucky River (though often with structurally-controlled
knickpoints), and smaller tributaries may have hanging
valley morphology where the tributary downcutting could
not keep pace (Phillips & Lutz 2008). The incisional
response has typically not reached the upper portions of
the larger tributaries, which are unincised and include
sinking streams and dry karst valleys.
Three study areas were selected within the Inner
Bluegrass, based on access, minimal topographic dis-
turbance (by construction, agriculture, mining, etc.),
and inclusion of both uvially incised and unincised
areas (Fig. 7). Sites were selected to also include areas
on the inside and outside of Kentucky River meander
bends, as these have experienced fundamentally dif-
ferent landscape responses with respect to uviokarst
development (Phillips 2015).
Raven Run is on the outside of a meander bend,
and the core of the area is managed as a public park
and nature preserve. The site is mostly forested, but
includes some areas of grassy meadow. The 7.55 km2
study area includes a small portion on the east (left)
bank of the river. The Polly’s Bend site is at Dupree
Nature Preserve, on the interior of a bend at Polly’s
Bend, a compound Kentucky River meander loop. The
3.68 km2 study area is mainly forested, with small areas
of meadow. The 9.14 km2 Shaker Preserve study site is
within the Shaker Village Nature Preserve, within the
watershed of Shawnee Run. This site includes a combi-
nation of forest, recently ungrazed meadow, and grazed
pastures. Shawnee Run joins the river on the outside of
a meander bend.
2.1. Landform mapping
The FK and KF transition landforms were mapped using
a combination of geographical information system and
eld approaches. The study areas were rst extensively
reconnoitered in the eld on foot, and via kayak from the
Kentucky River. Based on this (and literature review),
the key FK and KF landforms were identied, and the
locations of some individual landforms mapped.
GIS data were used to delineate the indicative land-
forms throughout the study sites. This included digital
elevation model (DEM) data at a 1.5 m (5 ft) horizon-
tal resolution, derived from LiDAR data. Both true and
false-color imagery at horizontal resolutions as ne as
0.3 m (1 ft), was used, with imagery taken between
2006 and 2015. Supporting GIS layers included sur-
face geological maps at a 1:24,000 scale, and cover-
age of springs and water wells. A karst potential map
of Kentucky (1:24,000 scale), and coverage of sinkhole
outlines were also used. All data (except for some of
the true-color aerial photographs, accessed through
Google EarthTM) were obtained through the Kentucky
Geological Survey (KGS;
main.asp#tabs-2 ). The Harrodsburg sheet of the Karst
Fig. 4. Examples of breached dolines in the Polly’s Bend
study area. Base topographic relief map derived from 1.5 m
LiDAR data.
Landform transitions in a uviokarst landscape 113
Atlas of Kentucky (Currens et al. 2003) was also used.
The atlas shows groundwater ow paths determined by
dye tracing, mapped karst groundwater basins, springs,
and stream sinks.
The DEM data proved most useful. The imagery was
useful mainly in the nonforested portions of the study
sites, due to heavy canopy cover in other sections. The
karst potential maps are based on surface lithology, and
provided redundant information to the geological maps.
The sinkhole layer was useful but incomplete, as some
dolines identied in the eld and via the DEM do not
appear in this data.
The FK and KF landforms identied from the GIS
data were then visited individually in the eld to verify
or ground-truth the interpretations. Landforms which
turned out to have equivocal properties when examined
in the eld, or which could not be accessed, were not
included in the nal maps (see e.g., Fig. 1).
Fig. 5. Indicator landform examples in the study areas. (A) Dry karst valley. (B) Dry karst valley with incipient chan-
nel active during wet weather. (C) Incised channel just downstream of a dry valley. (D) Sediment transported by
surface runoff transported into recently opened swallet (arrow). (E) Icicle Bend on Shawnee Run. While not a clas-
sic karst window, this section is part of an exhumed underground stream (see Jerin & Phillips 2017). (F) Alluvial
collapse dolines on the Kentucky River oodplain. All photos by author.
114 J.D. Phillips
Fig. 6. Indicator landform examples in the study areas. (A) Karst pocket valley. (B) Breached doline. Photo A by
author; B is Google EarthTM image with relief exaggerated 3X.
Fig. 7. Study areas (boxes) within the Inner Bluegrass region of Kentucky.
Landform transitions in a uviokarst landscape 115
2.2. Fluviokarst transition model
To explore transitions and evolutionary trajectories in
uviokarst systems, Smart (1988) developed a model
based on hydrological probabilities. The essence of the
model is that karst conduit conveyance capacity is related
to relief, dened as height or thickness of the karst aqui-
fer above its base level. When imposed discharge is less
than this conveyance capacity, ow is dominantly sub-
surface and karst evolution is dominant. When imposed
discharge is higher than conduit conveyance capac-
ity, ow is displaced to the surface, triggering surcial
hydrological processes and uvially-dominated land-
scape evolution. The model accounts for ow rates as a
function of hydraulic head and conduit size, exceedence
probabilities of discharge, conduit enlargement via disso-
lution, and sedimentation. Details are provided by Smart
(1988), but key for the current study are the feedback
mechanisms identied by Smart involving surface and
groundwater ow, conduit size, and relief.
Fluvial-karst interactions in Kentucky uviokarst
were previously analyzed by the author using a ow
partitioning model considering the apportioning of
surplus moisture to surface concentrated (channel)
discharge, overland diffuse (sheet) ow, concentrated
groundwater (conduit) discharge, and subsurface dif-
fuse ow. Phillips & Walls (2004) developed the origi-
nal conceptual model based on competition between
the ow paths, and Phillips (2015) developed threshold
criteria for the likelihood of competing ow paths. For
sub-banktop or sub-conduit-lling ow, cross-sectional
area or hydraulic radius do not limit discharge. In these
cases the threshold criterion is dominated by hydraulic
slopes (though roughness or friction factors may also
play a role).
These conceptual frameworks lead to the model
shown in Figure 8, showing the interrelationships among
surface and groundwater ow, conduit size and slope,
ground or surface slope, and karst relief (as dened by
Smart 1988). Surface and groundwater ow are com-
petitive (negatively inuence each other) due to a nite
amount of surplus moisture. Groundwater ow and con-
duit size are mutually reinforcing, due to the positive
feedbacks between discharge and dissolutional enlarge-
ment. As in Smart’s (1988) model, karst relief inu-
ences groundwater conveyance capacity by providing
additional space for subsurface ow. Thus karst relief
positively inuences groundwater and negatively affects
surface ow. In karst, ground and conduit slopes must
be treated separately. Steeper conduit slopes promote
groundwater ows, and inhibit surface runoff by direct-
ing more ow to the subsurface. Ground surface slopes
have the opposite effect steeper slopes promote over-
land runoff and negatively inuence groundwater ow.
Ground slopes are also shown as self-limiting, owing
to nite available elevation above base level, and to
geomech anical limits on slope stability.
In addition to the models of Smart (1988) and Phillips
(2015), a number of empirical studies support the feed-
back links shown in Fig. 8. The discussion of factors
determining cave patterns by Audra & Palmer (2015)
either explicitly includes or implies feedbacks indicated
in Fig. 2, as does Bailly-Comte et al.’s (2009) work on
groundwater-surface water interactions on an event
(rather than landscape evolution) time scale.
In south central Kentucky karst, Lavalle (1967)
showed that structurally aligned karst depression con-
centrations and elongation are both positively related to
karst relief and subsurface hydraulic gradients. Williams
(1985) laid out the critical role of topographic slope in
favoring either karst or uvial features, which was con-
rmed for central Kentucky by Phillips & Walls (2004).
Tüfeçki & Sener (2007) identied the importance of base
level (related to karst relief) and slope in evolution of a
Turkish karst landscape. The key role of base level low-
ering for both karstication and uvial incision was out-
lined by Worthington (2005), among others.
Dissolution and chemical denudation are not directly
gradient dependent, as long as the base of the epikarst is
above the water table. However, slope advantages play a
role in ow partitioning, and strongly impact ow veloci-
ties. When slows are too slow, water becomes Ca satu-
rated and non-aggressive. More importantly, to the extent
hydraulic gradients increase conduit discharge, positive
feedbacks tend to increase conduit size via dissolution,
at least until reaction kinetics rather than moisture sup-
ply become limiting. These feedbacks have long been
included in simulation models, and Worthington (2015)
showed their applicability to channel (conduit) develop-
ment in carbonate aquifers. He also found that hydraulic
gradients are dominant for guiding channel development
Fig. 8. Fluvial-karst transition feedback model. Positive
feedback indicates that an increase or decrease in one com-
ponent results in a change in the component at the end of the
arrow in the same direction. Negative feedback indicates a
change in the opposite direction.
116 J.D. Phillips
at the regional scale. Interestingly, Worthington (2015)
also showed that development of caves (vs. smaller con-
duits) is favored where sinking stream recharge rather
than matrix percolation is dominant, implying that FK
transitions enhance cave development. Filipponi et al.
(2009, 2010) demonstrated the importance of initial
permeability or conduits, as well as the ow/dissolution
An alternative version of the feedback model is
shown in Figure 9, which incorporates effects of topo-
graphic change on relief and slope. Aggregate conduit
capacity (inuencing exceedence probability; Smart
1988) may be reduced by surface denudation associated
with surface ow and uvial erosion that is, surface
lowering increases the probability of “spillover” from
karst conduits. Fluvial downcutting increases relief, and
as the tributaries are partly incised this can be considered
as an internal feedback as well as an external control due
to Kentucky River incision. One could also postulate – or
for a specic case, identify – various positive and nega-
tive links between relief and surface slope, as indicated
by the double arrow in Fig. 9.
The network of interactions shown in Figures 8 and
9 was analyzed for dynamical stability using the Routh-
Hurwitz criteria. The rst criterion is that the system is
dynamically stable if and only if the (real parts of the)
eigenvalues of the interaction matrix of the network
are all negative. The interaction matrix is constructed
based on positive, negative, or zero entries according to
whether the row component has a positive, negative, or
no effect on the column component (components are the
boxes in Figs. 2, 3). Methods are standard in qualitative
asymptotic stability analysis (Puccia & Levins 1985),
and are described in detail in a geomorphological context
by Phillips (1999). The analysis was performed for the
situation shown in Fig. 8, and for Fig. 9 with the surface
ow to relief link as both positive and negative, and vari-
ous positive and negative links between relief and ground
Dynamical stability in this context means that the
effects of disturbances and changes tend to be dimin-
ished or offset over time, returning the uviokarst sys-
tem toward its predisturbance state. Thus, for example,
a newly-opened or widened swallet, or storm-related
headcut migration, would deterioriate or become clogged
with sediment or vegetation. Dynamical instability indi-
cates that the effects of disturbances tend to persist or
grow disproportionately large – thus a relatively small or
localized change to a stream or karst feature could result
in a transition. This analysis can thus provide insight as to
whether large events or major disturbances are required
to drive KF and FK transformations.
3. Results
Figures 10 to 12 show the mapped indicator landforms,
and summaries are shown in Tables 1 and 2. At Raven
Run, a total of 17 features were mapped and conrmed
(seven FK and 10 KF), with a density of 2.25 features
km–2. Note that these are minima, as only unequivo-
cally classiable features that were directly observed in
the eld were included, and small individual features
such as stream swallets are not included. Polly’s Bend
had the highest density of features (5.43 km–2), which
were dominantly (70 percent) FK. At Shaker Preserve
two thirds of the 24 mapped features were KF, with a
density of 2.63 km–2. The sites are discussed individu-
ally below.
3.1. Raven Run
The Raven Run site on the west side of the river and in
the nature sanctuary has a prevalence of KF transitions
(Fig. 10). Fluvial dissection is common on the outside of
Kentucky River bends in the gorge area (Phillips 2015).
As Raven Run and its tributaries actively incise, the
headcuts encroach on sinking streams and dry karst val-
leys in the upper reaches of the watershed. Similar pro-
cesses have breached at least one doline. There are also
at least three cases of pocket valleys on the steepening
valley side slopes of the incising streams. However, in
the lower reaches of Raven Run, two paleovalleys asso-
ciated with karst piracy exist, indicating FK transitions.
The other FK transitions are on the other side of the river
in the form of alluvial collapse dolines on the Kentucky
River oodplain or lower alluvial terrace.
The karst window feature in lower Raven Run is not
a classic window, exposing a portion of an otherwise
underground stream. Rather, it represents an exposed
conduit or cave passage that was apparently part of a
karst piracy event that was later subaerially exposed.
This is indicated both by the channel/valley morphology,
Fig. 9. Modied version of Fig. 8, including potential surface
erosion-relief and ground slope-relief feedbacks.
Landform transitions in a uviokarst landscape 117
and the relationship to the abandoned channels in the
lower portion of the creek valley.
3.2. Polly’s Bend
This site is mainly on the interior of a river meander
bend. In addition to the FK and KF features, Fig. 11
shows a linear zone of dolines across the bend. A high
density of dolines on meander bend interiors is typical
in the Kentucky River gorge, and more-or-less linear
alignments are not uncommon (Phillips 2015). Some-
times these are associated with mapped faults or struc-
tural trends. The formation of these features is unclear,
though they are associated with generally lower surface
slopes on bend interiors, and may be formed by col-
lapse into cross-bend conduits that convey groundwater
bypass ow (Phillips 2015). Though they are not
included in the inventory of FK or KF features, they are
clearly associated with uvial-karst interactions due to
their concentration relative to river meander bends, and
their presence on slip-off slopes associated with river
bend migration.
The dominance of FK transition features here is
mainly due to a large number (10 conrmed) of alluvial
collapse dolines on the river oodplain. No large tributar-
ies join the Kentucky River on meander bend interiors,
apparently being diverted during downcutting and bend
migration (Phillips 2015). Thus there are no karst valley-
incised channel transitions or paleochannels here, though
incision of small, local features has resulted in a breached
doline and several pocket valleys.
Table 1. Indicator landforms of uvial-karst transitions (number mapped in Figures 10–12).
Landform Transition Raven Run Polly’s Bend Shaker Preserve
Karst valley→incised channel Karst to uvial 5 09
Karst pocket valley Karst to uvial 3 5 5
Karst window Karst to uvial 101
Breached doline Karst to uvial 111
Sinking stream/dry karst valley Fluvial to karst 2 4 6
Stream swallet Fluvial to karst NM NM NM
Paleovalley: karst piracy Fluvial to karst 2 0 2
Alluvial collapse doline Fluvial to karst 310 0
NM = present but not mapped
Table 2. FK and KF landforms by study site.
Study site Area (km2) Maximum
Elevation (masl)
Total relief
Fluvial to Karst
(N, N/km2)
Karst to Fluvial
(N, N/km2)
(N, N/km2)
Raven Run 7.55 307 139 7
Polly’s Bend 3.68 288 129 14
Shaker Preserve 9.14 285 129 8
All sites 20.37 29
Table 3. Interaction matrix for the uviokarst transition feedback model shown in Fig. 8, with positive and negative links shown
as 1 or –1.
Con size Sconduit Sground Relief Qsurface Qgroundwater
Conduit size 0 0 0 0 –1 1
Slope, conduit 0 0 0 0 –1 1
Slope, ground 0 0 0 0 1 –1
Relief 0 0 0 0 –1 1
Surface discharge (Q) 0 0 1 –1 0 –1
Groundwater discharge 1 0 0 0 –1 0
118 J.D. Phillips
3.3. Shaker preserve
Though this study area does not include the Kentucky
River, the Shaker site otherwise contains the greatest
variety of transitional features. Undercounting is likely
more pronounced here, as the establishment of a number
of stock ponds in the upper areas of the Shawnee Run
watershed has obscured or modied potential transitional
The incision of Shawnee Run and its tributaries
has apparently triggered a number of KF transitions
as upstream migration of knickpoints and headcuts
encroaches on karst valleys and depressions. Pocket val-
leys are probably more common than the ve mapped in
Fig. 12, because many candidate features lack the amphi-
theater-like upper valley and/or the conduit inputs could
not be observed during eldwork.
Like Raven Run, the karst window shown in Fig. 12
is not a true window, but an exposed portion of a karst
capture (described in detail by Jerin & Phillips 2017).
3.4. Stability analysis
The network of interactions shown in Fig. 8 and Table 3 are
dynamically unstable by the Routh-Hurwitz criteria. The
addition of various combinations of the additional links
shown in Fig. 9 does not change this outcome. The results
are qualitatively insensitive – that is, given the interaction
matrix values greater than, less than, or equal to zero, vary-
ing the quantitative values will not produce a negative larg-
est eigenvalue (Lyapunov exponent). Thus the interactions
among surface and groundwater ow, ground surface and
conduit slope, conduit size, and karst relief are dynamically
unstable and prone to persistence and growth of perturba-
tions. Implications are discussed further below.
4. Discussion
The study sites include abundant evidence of both FK
and KF transitions, and do not indicate a landscape
Fig. 10. Fluvial-karst transition indicator landforms at the Raven Run study site. Base map is shaded relief from
~1.5 m (5 ft) resolution DEM.
Landform transitions in a uviokarst landscape 119
proceeding along a monotonic pathway toward either
karst or uvial domination. This is primarily due to three
factors. First, both uvial and karst processes are strongly
inuenced by base level and hydraulic gradients. The
geologically recent incision of the Kentucky River is the
single most important factor driving landscape evolution
in the study area, and strongly inuences and promotes
both karst and uvial processes. Second, karst and uvial
processes and subsurface and surface ows are strongly
interconnected and cannot change independently of each
other. Finally, the network of interconnections is dynami-
cally unstable, indicating that relatively small local dis-
turbances or variations can trigger transformations, thus
mitigating against either karst or uvial dominance. Thus
neither the primary driving factor of landscape change,
the karst-uvial interactions, or the system dynamics
promote landscape-scale dominance of either karstic or
uvial development.
The dynamical instability explains, at least phe-
nomenologically, the variety of KF and FK transitional
landforms. Local changes or perturbations tend to per-
sist and grow, so at any moment both FK and KF forms
are present, rather than a systematic landscape-scale
trend toward either a uvial or holokarst system. Karst
to uvial transitions are driven primarily by incision of
the Kentucky River and its tributaries, as channel inci-
sion and headward erosion encroach on dry karst valleys,
occasionally breach dolines, and form pocket valleys.
Shifts from uvial to karst dominance occur in both
incising and unincised areas. This in turn reects the rela-
tive independence of subsurface processes from surface
topographic slope gradients.
While the changing baselevel of the downcut-
ting Kentucky River and the incision of tributaries are
major drivers of both uvial and karst activity, the per-
vasive soluble bedrock makes karst processes common
throughout the Inner Bluegrass. Thus uvial and allu-
vial landforms are always liable to FK transformations,
particularly alluvial collapse dolines and karst capture
of stream ows. Slip-off slopes on river meander bend
Fig. 11. Fluvial-karst transition indicator landforms at the Polly’s Bend study site. The polygon outlined in the
heavier black line is a line of dolines (see text). Base map is shaded relief from ~1.5 m (5 ft) resolution DEM.
120 J.D. Phillips
interiors are hotspots for karstication created by long-
term uvial system evolution (Phillips & Walls 2004,
Phillips 2015) and upland paleochannels are also favora-
ble locations for doline development (Andrews 2004,
Phillips & Walls 2004).
Overall, a picture emerges of mutually reinforc-
ing uvial and karst activity that transcends both types
of activity responding to the same baselevel controls.
This implication is at least broadly consistent with ear-
lier studies. Karst processes such as cave collapse and
stream piracy were found by Woodside et al. (2015)
to strongly inuence stream longitudinal proles in a
uviokarst setting, for example. Conversely, Jaillet
et al. (2004) showed that uvial erosion opens “hydro-
geological windows” into karst systems, and forms
groundwater springs that stimulate new karstication.
Karst-uvial interaction can accelerate either process,
as in the formation of pocket valleys along valley side
slopes of incising streams in the study area, and the
stimulation of cave development by karst capture of
surface channels (Worthington 2015).
The uviokarst interaction model in this study, and
previous work supporting it, are based on the partition-
ing of ow and a competition metaphor for available
runoff. Other work also invokes similar metaphors for
uviokarst, such as White (2009), who portrayed the
evolution of Appalachian uviokarst in terms of compe-
tition between stream erosion, cave development, sur-
face denudation, and tectonics. While local divergence
into karst-rich or uvial-rich zones occurs on inner and
outer Kentucky River meander bends (Phillips et al.
2004, Phillips 2015) as a whole the Inner Bluegrass u-
viokarst region is similar to the Appalachian uviokarst
described by White (2009) in that endpoint situations
(karst-rich, channel-poor zones or limestone uplands
planated to local based levels vs. channel-rich, karst
poor zones or uvial dissection by deep canyons) are
rare. Rather, active, variable, and reversible uvial-karst
Fig. 12. Fluvial-karst transition indicator landforms at the Shaker Preserve study site. Base map is shaded relief
from ~1.5 m (5 ft) resolution DEM.
Landform transitions in a uviokarst landscape 121
interactions rather than progressive dominance by one
or the other are the rule.
5. Conclusions
Four major landform types representing transitions from
karst to uvially-dominated landforms and processes
were identied in the Inner Bluegrass region of central
Kentucky. These are sinking streams, dry karst valleys,
paleovalleys resulting from karst stream piracy, and
alluvial collapse dolines. Four other common landforms
indicate shifts from uvial to karst: stream incision into
dry karst valleys, doline breaching by surface runoff or
stream incision, karst pocket valleys, and karst windows.
These features were mapped at three study sites. All three
showed both KF and FK transitional landforms, with a
mean density of about three such landforms per km2.
Because of constraints on denitive identication of tran-
sitional forms, conservative criteria for inclusion, and the
fact that smaller features (such as stream swallets) were
not mapped, the actual occurrence of landforms indicat-
ing shifts in process dominance is higher.
A uviokarst structural network interaction model
representing interactions among surface channel ow,
subsurface conduit ow, surface topographic slope, sub-
surface gradients, and relief was analyzed. These inter-
actions are dynamically unstable under any plausible
conguration, indicating that local disturbances altering
hydrologic ow paths are likely to persist and grow over
time, facilitating transformations between surface ow
and uvial domination vs. subsurface ow and karst
domination. Thus, while local divergence into karst or
uvial domination is common, the uviokarst landscape
as a whole is characterized by variable and reversible
karst-uvial interactions, with no general long-term trend
toward a holokarst or a uvially-dominated landscape.
A competition metaphor based on ow partitioning
at the process scale or river vs. karst at the landscape
evolution scale is useful in understanding uviokarst
development. However, the functioning of the Kentucky
uviokarst studied here is better understood as mutual
reinforcement. Fluvial dissection can be intensied and
accelerated by the presence of karst features, and karsti-
cation is enhanced by stream incision.
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Manuscript received: February 7, 2017
Revised version accepted: May 16, 2017
... As dolinas são as formas de relevo mais comuns e representativas das paisagens cársticas, e estão relacionadas à maneira como se deu o processo de formação (morfogênese). Segundo Tavassos (2019, p. 78-81) 2016;BOČIĆ et al., 2015;JERIN;PHILLIPS, 2017;KOŠUTNIK, 2007;PHILLIPS, 2017PHILLIPS, , 2018PHILLIPS et al., 2004;TÎRLǍ et al., 2016). ...
... As dolinas são as formas de relevo mais comuns e representativas das paisagens cársticas, e estão relacionadas à maneira como se deu o processo de formação (morfogênese). Segundo Tavassos (2019, p. 78-81) 2016;BOČIĆ et al., 2015;JERIN;PHILLIPS, 2017;KOŠUTNIK, 2007;PHILLIPS, 2017PHILLIPS, , 2018PHILLIPS et al., 2004;TÎRLǍ et al., 2016). ...
Full-text available
Abstract The vast occurence of Bambuí group carbonate rocks (Neoproterozoic), in Brazilian Central-West region, allows the realocation of great superficial rivers to the fragile underground ambient. In this sense, this work aims the identification of areas with the possibility of occurrence of sinkholes in Rio Corrente Basin, located in the northeast portion of Goiás state. These features are typical in karstic ambients, being responsible for the superficial hydrography capture to the subterranean area. Using the Geographic Information System (GIS), operating the softwares QGIS and SAGA GIS, attempts were made to the location of such areas from visual identification (considering criteria such as hydrography, altitude, contours and vegetation). From the application of these filters 170 polygons of were identified, representing areas of possibility of sinkholes occurrence, being necessary field work to validate them.
... Information from these studies was used to construct signed digraphs of two historical sequences representing landscape evolution trends over the past~1.8 Ma, the time frame over which base level change driving both fluvial and karst processes and soil development has occurred (Phillips, 2017a). The first (Fig. 5.7) represents landform transitions among the six major types upland landforms. ...
... For the landform transitions, positive links were assigned where multiple examples of apparent transitions from one form to another were recognized in the field (Phillips, 2017a), where the "destination" landform did not precede the "origin" landform in the chronosequence (Phillips, 2018a), and where the basic principles of fluviokarst landform development support the transition (Phillips, 2015a(Phillips, , 2017a. Negative links were assigned where no evidence of a transition was observed, and principles suggest that a transition would be extremely unlikely, if not impossible. ...
History matters. Global (independent of place and time) principles are necessary to explain landscape evolution, as are place factors (geographical and environmental context). But, by themselves, they are not sufficient. To explain landscape evolution—which by definition has important temporal dimensions—history must also be incorporated. Landscape evolution is historically contingent. This chapter outlines several different types of historical contingency, discusses multiple pathways and outcomes in landscape evolution, and evaluates why some imaginable pathways are rare and others common, and some trends are divergent and others convergent. Methods for evaluating path stability of historical trajectories are introduced and applied to several different Earth surface systems. The chapter concludes with a consideration of landscape evolution in the context of convergence, divergence, and equifinality.
... The abandoned valley reaches can be affected by solutional deepening, becoming internally drained depressions, plus lateral solution planation resulting in the expansion of the poljes. Some authors (e.g., Phillips, 2017) document in carbonate karst areas geomorphic evidence of fluvial-to-karst (e.g., dry valleys) and karst-tofluvial transitions (e.g., sinkholes breached by drainages). However, to our knowledge, this is the first case study that documents an evolutionary trend involving the transformation of fluvial landforms (i.e., relict valleys, and abandoned valley sections) into gypsum poljes. ...
Karst poljes, despite their large dimensions and significant applied interest, have received limited attention in the geomorphological literature, and references to gypsum poljes are incidental. This work analyses the morpho-structural setting, characteristics, origin and controlling factors of thirteen poljes mapped in the gypsum karst of Sivas, Turkey. The poljes occur along a 38 km long belt associated with the allogenic Kızılırmak and Acısu rivers, which constitute the regional base level of the karst system. The path of these drainages is controlled by the trailing morpho-structural trough of the antiformal ridge associated with the front of the active Sivas Thrust. The floor of most of the poljes is connected with the floodplain of the main rivers, but largely lies at lower elevation, functioning as semi-closed basins that can be flooded by water table rise and the incorporation of floodwaters from the adjacent fluvial systems. The depressions, with their floors situated within the epiphreatic zone, are classified as base-level poljes. Three types of base-level poljes are differentiated based on cartographic relationships and attending to their evolutionary path: poljes associated with relict valleys; poljes developed in abandoned valley sections, poljes related to the coalescence of bedrock collapse sinkholes. The poljes expand by lateral solution planation, involving the retreat of the marginal slopes and their replacement by a solution plain (polje floor) controlled by the water table. The retreat of the slopes is mainly achieved by solutional undercutting during floods, mass movements, and the rapid removal of the gypsiferous landslide deposits. These processes are expected to operate in gypsum bedrock at much higher rates than in carbonate rocks. Dissolution acting at the foot of the scarped gypsum slopes during floods locally produce floodwater footcaves with the typical water injection features (e.g., spongework, solution pockets, tapering dead-end passages). These caves locally produce bedrock collapse sinkholes that can be incorporated into the polje depressions generating characteristic embayments. The main factors that seem to favor the development of poljes in Sivas include: (1) a morpho-structural trough with relatively low uplift rate that confined the path of the main drainages; (2) abundant aggressive water supplied by allogenic rivers; (3) a fluviokarst landscape including fluvial landforms that can transform into poljes; and (4) presence of clusters of bedrock collapse sinkholes that experience rapid expansion.
... Sendo assim, a compreensão dessas transições não é apenas relevante para os processos da evolução da paisagem fluviocárstica em si, mas também para a evolução da paisagem de forma mais ampla. No entanto, os processos geomórficos e os fluxos hidrológicos não são bem compreendidos em riachos controlados por leito de rocha ou em sistemas cársticos, em comparação com riachos aluviais e sistemas de águas subterrâneas não cársticas (PHILLIPS, 2017). A incisão do rio resulta no abandono das superfícies erosivas da planície de inundação, e as passagens das cavernas se desenvolvem durante os períodos de estabilidade do nível de base, podendo resultar na formação de terraços vinculados à migração de knickpoint, pois, formas antigas são exemplos que caracterizam a estabilidade na paisagem com baixas taxas de incisão. ...
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O carste apresenta regiões de conexões entre os sistemas fluviais e cársticos o fluviocarste, dispondo de feições típicas, como os vales secos. Tais feições vêm sendo estudadas de diversas formas para contribuir no entendimento da dinâmica geomorfológica do carste. Este estudo visa fazer uma revisão sobre vales secos em sistemas cársticos, tendo em vista observar o potencial científico destas áreas para diversas aplicabilidades. A revisão utilizou como principal forma de busca a plataforma Web Of Science (todas as bases), abrangendo o período entre 1945-2020, que abordavam sobre tais feições, com o uso das seguintes palavras-chave: karstic valley, dry valleys, blind valley, relict valley, ancient valley, fossil valley, solution valley, paleovalley e paleokarst valley, resultando em vinte e sete trabalhos, com diversas propostas de análise, evidenciando os fatores envolvidos na dinâmica fluviocárstica. O levantamento permite observar que são poucos estudos considerando a extensão de ocorrência de rochas carbonáticas no mundo, havendo concentração das pesquisas no continente europeu. No Brasil, apesar de dispor de regiões carbonáticas e das várias áreas mapeadas com ocorrência de cavernas, principalmente no bioma Cerrado, não há pesquisas sobre o tema, mesmo que viabilizem a identificação dos fatores que influenciam evoluções dos sistemas fluviocársticos.
... Caves in the other two relict valley systems are significantly deeper than the previous ones: Fluvial karst in its broadest sense represents karst region having both, the fluvial and the karst relief forms (Gams 2004;Bognar et al. 2012;Furlani et al. 2016;Phillips 2017;Donnaloia et al. 2019). It is found in the northern and northeastern parts of Montenegro. ...
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The most significant caves in Montenegro were distinguished in response to their physical-geographic, biological, archeological and morphometric characteristics (length and depth). Caves distribute in four distinctive regions: coastal karst, karst plateau (relict valley system), fluvial karst (recent hydrologic systems) and the high mountainous karst area. The most outstanding within the last, due to abundances of the major caves with depths from a few hundred meters to 1,162 m, are four mountain regions: Mt. Durmitor, Mt. Lovćen-Orjen, Mt. Maganik and Mt. Bjelič.
... The analysis below treats a state factor model as a structural graph. Graph nodes are the key components of system structure, and graph links or edges are based on causal or functional relationships (e.g., Phillips, 2017;Delmas et al., 2019). ...
Ecosystems and landscapes are supraorganisms (not superorganisms), defined as highly interconnected biotic-abiotic systems which meet two criteria: (1) Significant changes to any component result in changes to the system as a whole, and responses and adaptations occur at the ecosystem level (in addition to responses of ecosystem constituents) and involve multiple system components. (2) Developmental and evolutionary changes occur contemporaneously within the system. This does not imply simultaneity but does require that changes within the ecosystem are contemporaneous or temporally overlapping. This points to an approach to landscape evolution that confronts the holistic nature of historical development and responses to environmental change, rather than (or in addition to) evolution or responses of individual constituents such as biota, soils, or landforms.
From the morphological perspective, poljes are large depressions in karst terrain characterized by extremely flat floors. Corrosion plains have been reported in a wide range of climatic environments and geomorphic settings, such as tropical tower and cone karst landscapes, the floor of poljes, uplifted plateaus in mountain regions, alluvial plains, coastal areas, or the margins of sedimentary basins. The Chinese geomorphologists differentiate two types of landscapes with carbonate residual hills on the basis of morphological and hydrological criteria: fenglin karst and fengcong karst. However, most karst terrains display valleys carved by surface waters, indicating that fluvial activity and mechanical water erosion have played a role in the development of the landscape. Calcium carbonate can precipitate from supersaturated waters at springs, rivers (autogenic and allogenic), lakes and palustrine environments, generating deposits and constructional features with a wide diversity of facies and geometries known as calcareous tufas and travertines.
Concentrated or preferential flow patterns occur at all scales in hydrologic systems. They shape, and are shaped by, geomorphic and pedologic patterns and structures. Preferential flow patterns in surface channel networks and dual-porosity subsurface flow systems are a way of achieiving maximum efficiency, as predicted by dissipative systems, constructal, network evolution, percolation, and ecohydrological theories. These all converge on the same predictions and interpretations of preferential flow, which satisfactorily answer “why” these patterns form and persist. However, as geomorphic and hydrologic systems have no intentionality or agency, and thus no ability to actively seek improved efficiency, how these systems evolve is an open question. I propose an emergent explanation based on five phenomena. First, concentrated flows form due to principles of gradient and resistance selection. Second, positive feedback reinforces the concentrated preferential flow paths and their relationship to potential moisture storage zones. Third, intersecting flow paths form networks. Fourth, the expansion of concentrated flow paths and networks is limited by thresholds of flow needed for channel, macropore, or conduit growth and maintenance. This results in a “store and pour” flow system that can retain water during dry periods and transport it efficiently during wet periods. These systems survive provided they develop “spillway” and/or secondary storage mechanisms to accommodate excess water inputs. Finally, store-and-pour systems are maintained (selected for) because they are often stable. Store-and-pour structures are advantageous for flow systems, and for vegetation and ecosystems. These entities cannot actively pursue goals, and no laws dictate evolution toward such patterns. Their development is an emergent phenomenon and their persistence a matter of selection, i.e., survival of the most stable.
Structural analogs. These comprise analogs assisting the interpretation for regional structural styles such as rifting and pull-apart settings and delineation of regional faults through the alignment of karst features. Structural trap risking analogs comprise relay ramps and extensional fault settings. Salt tectonic analogs can be used for both, potential trap delineation as well as trap risking.
Darwinian natural selection acting on individuals is one of only several types of selection influencing landscape evolution. Ecological filtering and abiotic selection (including the least action principle and preferential flows) apply. The overarching principle is one of efficiency selection, whereby more efficient, stable, and durable forms, structures, patterns, networks, and flux pathways are more likely to occur, grow, and persist than less efficient ones. Particularly important forms are gradient selection, favoring steeper and faster flow paths; resistance selection, whereby more resistant features are preferentially preserved; biogeochemical selection, which favors more rapid elemental cycling; network selection, which makes more efficient flux and interaction networks more likely; and thermodynamic selection, reflecting the advantages of energy use efficiency. Efficiency selection is highly local, however, one of several reasons that landscapes and environmental systems are not always inevitably becoming more efficient overall. A case study illustrating selection principles is given.
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This book provides a theory to overcome the problem of identifying the principles behind the interdependence of different aspects of nature. Climate, vegetation, geology, landforms, soils, hydrology, and other environmental factors are all linked. Many scientists agree that there must be some general principles about the way in which earth surface systems operate, and about the ways in which the interactions of the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere manifest themselves. Yet there may be inherent limits on our ability to understand and isolate these interactions using traditional reductionist science. The argument of this book is that the simultaneous presence of order and chaos reflects fundamental, common properties of earth surface processes and systems. It shows how and why this is the case, with examples ranging from evolutionary and geological times scales to microscale examinations of process mechanics.
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Karst relief of Central Florida and fluvial relief of the Florida Panhandle were analyzed and compared on the basis of standardized samples of karst and fluvial topography derived from digital databases in a GIS environment. Comparative geomorphological analyses of the two distinct genetic relief types were performed on the basis of morphometric parameters derived for each type of relief in general as well as differentially for hypsometric intervals of paleo-marine terraces with the assumption of relative stability of tectonic conditions of the underlying carbonate platform. The comparative analyses conducted indicate overall higher values of the morphometric parameters in the fluvial relief compared to those in the karst relief. This is a consequence of more than two times higher rates of fluvial denudation compared to the karst denudation rates (0.23 vs. 0.11 mm/year, respectively). Differential analyses with respect to the paleo-marine terrace intervals reveal significant quantitative morphological differences between the upper, older and lower, younger terrace intervals in the karst and fluvial relief. In the two older terrace intervals, fluvial and karst denudation rates range from 0.07 to 0.09 mm/year, while in the younger terrace intervals fluvial denudation shows more than two times higher rates than the karst denudation (0.22 and 0.55 vs. 0.11 and 0.19 mm/year), indicating that fluvial processes in the study area are more effective than the respective karst processes. This is clearly reflected in the higher values of vertical dissection and denudated sediment volume in the fluvial relief in the younger terrace intervals, while the increased karst denudation rates are not yet reflected in the respective morphometric parameters due to the slower morphologic response. Overall, long-term karst denudation ranging from 0.07 to 0.19 mm/year is derived by volumetric analysis of the denudated sediment and as such accounts for the effects of both chemical and mechanical denudation. Consequently, they are significantly higher than the previously calculated short-term solutional denudation rates, although their values fall in the mid range of theoretical estimations with respect to climatic conditions of the study area. The obtained fluvial denudation rates ranging from 0.07 to 0.55 mm/year are similar to previous estimates of long-term fluvial denudation.
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Speleogenesis is the development of well-organized cave systems by fluids moving through fissures of a soluble rock. Epigenic caves induced by biogenic CO2soil production are dominant, whereas hypogenic caves resulting from uprising deep flow not directly connected to adjacent recharge areas appear to be more frequent than previously considered. The conceptual models of epigenic cave development moved from early models, through the “four-states model” involving fracture influence to explain deep loops, to the digital models demonstrating the adjustment of the main flow to the water table. The relationships with base level are complex and cave levels must be determined from the elevation of the vadose-phreatic transitions. Since flooding in the epiphreatic zone may be important, the top of the loops in the epiphreatic zone can be found significantly high above the base level. The term Paragenesis is used to describe the upward development of conduits as their lower parts fill with sediments. This process often records a general baselevel rise. Sediment influx is responsible for the regulation of long profiles by paragenesis and contributes to the evolution of profiles from looping to water table caves. Dating methods allow identification of the timing of cave level evolution. The term Ghost-rock karstification is used to describe a 2-phase process of speleogenesis, with a first phase of partial solution of rock along fractures in low gradient conditions leaving a porous matrix, the ghost-rock, then a second phase of mechanical removing of the ghost-rock mainly by turbulent flow in high gradient conditions opening the passages and forming maze caves. The first weathering phase can be related either to epigenic infiltration or to hypogenic upflow, especially in marginal areas of sedimentary basins. The vertical pattern of epigenic caves is mainly controlled by timing, geological structure, types of flow and base-level changes. We define several cave types as (1) juvenile, where they are perched above underlying aquicludes; (2) looping, where recharge varies greatly with time, to produce epiphreatic loops; (3) water-table caves where flow is regulated by a semi-pervious cover; and (4) caves in the equilibrium stage where flow is transmitted without significant flooding. Successive base-level drops caused by valley entrenchment make cave levels, whereas baselevel rise is defined in the frame of the Per ascensum Model of Speleogenesis (PAMS), where deep passages are flooded and drain through vauclusian springs. The PAMS can be active after any type of baselevel rise (transgression, fluvial aggradation, tectonic subsidence) and explains most of the deep phreatic cave systems except for hypogenic. The term Hypogenic speleogenesis is used to describe cave development by deep upflow independent of adjacent recharge areas. Due to its deep origin, water frequently has a high CO2-H2S concentration and a thermal anomaly, but not systematically. Numerous dissolution processes can be involved in hypogenic speleogenesis, which often include deep-seated acidic sources of CO2and H2S, “hydrothermal” cooling, mixing corrosion, Sulfuric Acid Speleogenesis (SAS), etc. SAS particularly involves the condensation-corrosion processes, resulting in the fast expansion of caves above the water table, i.e. in an atmospheric environment. The hydrogeological setting of hypogenic speleogenesis is based on the Regional Gravity Flow concept, which shows at the basin scales the sites of convergences and upflows where dissolution focuses. Each part of a basin (marginal, internal, deep zone) has specific conditions. The coastal basin is a sub-type. In deformed strata, flow is more complex according to the geological structure. However, upflow and hypogenic speleogenesis concentrate in structural highs (buried anticlines) and zones of major disruption (faults, overthrusts). In disrupted basins, the geothermal gradient “pumps” the meteoric water at depth, making loops of different depths and characteristics. Volcanism and magmatism also produce deep hypogenic loops with “hyperkarst” characteristics due to a combination of deep-seated CO2, H2S, thermalism, and microbial activity. In phreatic conditions, the resulting cave patterns can include geodes, 2–3D caves, and giant ascending shafts. Along the water table, SAS with thermal air convection induces powerful condensation-corrosion and the development of upwardly dendritic caves, isolated chambers, water table sulfuricacid caves. In the vadose zone, “smoking” shafts evolve under the influence of geothermal gradients producing air convection and condensation-corrosion. Likely future directions for research will probably involve analytical and modeling methods, especially using isotopes, dating, chemical simulations, and field investigations focused on the relationships between processes and resulting morphologies.
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Base-level lowering plays an important role in cave passage development and morphology. Cave conduits are commonly formed at depth below the water table, and subhorizontal conduits can form at depths of more than 100 m below the water table. Subsequent base-level lowering is responsible for evolution from a deep phreatic to a shallow phreatic to a vadose, water table setting. Most caves do not evolve to a vadose passage stretching from sink to spring because the flow is captured by undercaptures: passages at a lower elevation and below the water table. Undercaptures provide much of the complexity seen in cave maps. Distributary springs and bypass passages can also be formed during short-term rises in base level that also produce wall notches.
When meander incision occurs into soluble rock materials such as limestone, karst processes can alter river flow patterns in a manner, and with a rapidity, that is not available on insoluble rocks. The development of dissolution conduits or caves through meander necks is especially important. Efficient self-piracy of a stream through a meander cutoff cave causes abandonment of the meander loop. Abandonment of the meander loop will inhibit further development of any meander cutoff cave draining the abandoned meander loop to the next meander downstream. Examples of meander cutoff cave formation from flatlying Paleozoic limestones in Kentucky, and from glaciated Precambrian marbles in New York demonstrate the complex interaction of meander cutoff cave development. Structure, carbonate lithology and climate in this type of speleogenesis is subordinate to the geomorphologic and hydrologic setting of the surface meanders. -from Authors
The key to understanding the development of most solution depressions in karst is concluded to lie in subcutaneous processes in the epikarstic aquifer at the top of the vadose zone but beneath the soil. The epikarstic water-table is drawn-down above highly permeable vertical leakage paths at the base of the subcutaneous zone. This focuses stream-lines and hence corrosion activity. The radius of the cone of depression initially determines doline size. Positive feed-back factors reinforce these processes. A distinction can be made between 'draw-down depressions' and 'point-recharge depressions'. -from Author