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Kentucky Karst Landscapes

Samuel N. Dicken
The Journal of Geology
Vol. 43, No. 7 (Oct. - Nov., 1935), pp. 708-728
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30057941
Page Count: 21
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Kentucky Karst Landscapes
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Abstract

The fundamental quality of the Kentucky karst is the underground drainage developed on the Upper Mississippian limestones, a factor which makes for distinctive forms on the surface as well as great caverns beneath it. Since geologic structure controls the distribution of the different phases of the karst, and since the Kentucky karst is located on the outer margin of the Western Coal Basin, the major area in Kentucky is in the form of a rude crescent, with the early phases of the karst on the inner margin of the crescent and the later stages on the outer margin. In the first stage the surface streams, intrenched in the Chester elastics, are captured by underground drainage. The transfer of surface run-off to underground channels is followed by a change in surface forms, closed solution depressions superseding the valleys of surface streams. After the sandstones of the Chester series have been removed the entire surface is formed by solution depressions, with convex or concave slopes depending on the relative intensity of solution. When an impermeable bed is reached the depressions begin to fill with insoluble sediment, the underground channels become blocked, and surface streams begin to appear on the bottoms of the filled depressions, thus marking the end of the karst.

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