Did you know that a quarter of the world’s population gets drinking water from karst aquifers? Karst is the type of landscape that forms by dissolution of carbonate rocks (limestone, dolomite) or other highly soluble rocks such as evaporates (gypsum and rock salt). Karst includes caves, sinkholes, sinking streams, and springs. Karst environments are vulnerable to groundwater contamination. Understanding groundwater flow in karst terrains is critical for safe drinking water.
Karst and caves are important features of our nation’s geologic heritage. About 20 percent of the United States is underlain by karst. Caves are natural laboratories with constant temperature and humidity preserving fossils, minerals, ecosystems, and records of past climates. Today they also provide recreation opportunities for visitors.
In this activity, you will construct a 3-D paper model to explore a karst system and how water flows through it.
• Glue or tape
• Color pencils, crayons, or markers
• Cave patterns (pages 4–6 from the Karst Topography Paper Model Student Page at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/caves/upload/StudentPages_karsttopography_508c.pdf)
• Computer with internet access and printer