Karst [kahrst] topography is characterized by subterranean limestone caverns, carved by groundwater. It is a landscape shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, usually carbonate rock such as limestone or dolomite. Due to subterranean drainage, there may be very limited surface water, even to the absence of all rivers and lakes. Many karst regions display distinctive surface features, with sinkholes or dolines being the most common.

Some karst regions include thousands of caves, even though evidence of caves that are big enough for human exploration is not a required characteristic of karst. Serbian geographer, Jovan Cvijić (1865–1927) is recognized as the father of karst geomorphology. The international community has settled on ‘karst,’ the German name for Kras, a region in Slovenia partially extending into Italy, where it is called ‘Carso’ and where the first scientific research of a karst topography was made. The name has an Indo-European origin (from ‘karra’ meaning ‘stone’).

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