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Evaporite-karst problems and studies in the USA

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DOI: 10.1007/s00254-007-0716-8

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Abstract

Evaporites, including rock salt (halite) and gypsum (or anhydrite), are the most soluble among common rocks; they dissolve readily to form the same types of karst features that commonly are found in limestones and dolomites. Evaporites are present in 32 of the 48 contiguous states in USA, and they underlie about 40% of the land area. Typical evaporite-karst features observed in outcrops include sinkholes, caves, disappearing streams, and springs, whereas other evidence of active evaporite karst includes surface-collapse structures and saline springs or saline plumes that result from salt dissolution. Many evaporites also contain evidence of paleokarst, such as dissolution breccias, breccia pipes, slumped beds, and collapse structures. All these natural karst phenomena can be sources of engineering or environmental problems. Dangerous sinkholes and caves can form rapidly in evaporite rocks, or pre-existing karst features can be reactivated and open up (collapse) under certain hydrologic conditions or when the land is put to new uses. Many karst features also propagate upward through overlying surficial deposits. Human activities also have caused development of evaporite karst, primarily in salt deposits. Boreholes (petroleum tests or solution-mining operations) or underground mines may enable unsaturated water to flow through or against salt deposits, either intentionally or accidentally, thus allowing development of small to large dissolution cavities. If the dissolution cavity is large enough and shallow enough, successive roof failures can cause land subsidence and/or catastrophic collapse. Evaporite karst, natural and human-induced, is far more prevalent than is commonly believed. ?? 2007 Springer-Verlag.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
Title:
Evaporite-karst problems and studies in the USA
DOI:
10.1007/s00254-007-0716-8
Volume
53
Issue:
5
Year Published:
2008
Language:
English
Larger Work Title:
Environmental Geology
First page:
937
Last page:
943