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ENCYCLOPEDIC ENTRY
ENCYCLOPEDIC ENTRY

Karst

Karst

Karst is an area of land made up of limestone

Grades

4 - 12+

Subjects

Earth Science, Geography, Geology, Physical Geography

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Morgan Stanley

Karst is an area of land made up of limestone. Limestone, also known as chalk or calcium carbonate, is a soft rock that dissolves in water. As rainwater seeps into the rock, it slowly erodes. Karst landscapes can be worn away from the top or dissolved from a weak point inside the rock.

Karst landscapes feature caves, underground streams and sinkholes on the surface. Where erosion has worn away the land above ground, steep rocky cliffs are visible.

Shilin is a karst formation in southern China. In Chinese, shilin means stone forest. Shilin got its name because the tall rocks that formed due to erosion look like stone trees. Shilin is part of a larger karst landscape called the South China Karst, which spreads across the Chinese provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan.

In Mexicos Yucatn Peninsula, you can find cenotes, which are karst sinkholes that have filled with water. Sometimes, cenotes connect to waterways underground. Mexicans and tourists use the cenotes as cool, pristine swimming pools.

Fast Fact

Underground Rivers
Underground rivers, also known as subterranean rivers, flow at least partly beneath the surface of the Earth. Many underground rivers are part of a karst landscape, where eroded limestone often creates caves. Underground rivers may emerge at sinkholes or above ground, as the karst landscape gives way to soil.

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Writers
Kim Rutledge
Melissa McDaniel
Santani Teng
Hilary Hall
Tara Ramroop
Erin Sprout
Jeff Hunt
Diane Boudreau
Hilary Costa
Illustrators
Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society
Tim Gunther
Editors
Jeannie Evers, Emdash Editing, Emdash Editing
Kara West
Educator Reviewer
Nancy Wynne
Producer
National Geographic Society
other
Last Updated

July 15, 2022

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