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“In Bowling Green, we live on a karst landscape. The term karst gets its name from the Kras Plateau that extends across portions of Slovenia and Italy.”


Under your feet exists a world of darkness , where caverns are formed by flowing water, to create a distinctive landscape known as karst. Karst landscapes form in areas where soluble rock is found. The most common soluble bedrock that karst landscapes form in is limestone. Karst areas form slowly over thousands of years as slightly acidic water (known as carbonic acid) seeps into the ground and dissolves the soluble bedrock underground. Carbonic acid forms when water (H2O) mixes with carbon dioxide (CO2) that is naturally occurring in the atmosphere and soil. Eventually, as the soluble bedrock dissolves away through the dissolution process, the characteristic features of a karst landscape, such as networks of sinkholes, springs, caves, underground rivers and aquifers, are formed.


A large portion of Kentucky is considered a karst landscape. Other places known for their karst environment include parts of Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, amongst many other states. Examples of international locations where karst landscapes are found include Slovenia, Italy, France, Germany, Belize, Jamaica, China, Australia, and the United Kingdom. In each of these places, the karst landscape plays an important role in the quantity and quality of each area’s water resources. Bowling Green, Kentucky is no exception! Because we live in a karst area our actions on the surface can directly impact the health and quality of the world that is situated below, so we must think differently about how we manage our water resources and what we do on the land surface.

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