Karst areas are unique, typically developing an underground drainage and characterised by a surface morphology related to dissolution processes. They include among the most productive aquifers of the world, receiving increasing exploitation interest in many countries. What do we know about these karst aquifers? How can we use these precious water resources in a sustainable way?
Also, karst areas and caves constitute important resources: they are often among the most scenic areas, able to attract large numbers of visitors. They are a perfect arena for educational activities. These places are also extremely vulnerable, and their management should be carried out with special care. Natural hazards in karst (i.e. sinkholes) are often induced by anthropogenic activities. What can be done to decrease the incidence of hazards in karst areas?
Karst develops differently in various parts of the world, from large doline fields to barren landscapes, including many types of caves formed according to external (geographic) and internal (structural) constraints. The intensity of the karst processes and the development of the resulting landforms and cave systems, is largely dependent on climate and its variability. Long records of environmental change are often preserved in the karst environment. The use of these natural archives has started many years ago, and the technological advances are increasingly helping to decode the pages of these long “karst books”. What have we learned from karst archives of the world? How can we use geological, geomorphological, structural, geochemical, biological, microbiological, mineralogical, and physical information recorded in karst systems?
Understanding karst as a whole is not an easy task, and often requires the interaction between scientists of different branches and disciplines. Which are the most intriguing mysteries to be solved in karst? What are the most recent advances in multidisciplinary karst research? This session invites all scientists working on karst to present their researches, from hydrogeology to geomorphology, from palaeoclimate reconstruction to natural hazards.