Coastal Caves and Sinkholes

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



coastal caves, coastal karst basins (CKB), hydrography, sea-level change, sea-level index points (SLIPs), sea-level indicators, sinkholes, stratification

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This chapter presents a simple model for environmental succession in coastal karst basins (CKB) under sea-level forcing, and uses this model as a framework for reviewing sea-level indicators preserved in caves and sinkholes. The model explains how common karst sea-level indicators develop, and why some of these indicators are sea-level index points (SLIPs) with a clearly defined indicative meaning, whereas others can only provide maximum or minimum constraints on sea level. The model dovetails geological, environmental, biological, and ecosystem research, and it also provides a simple framework for analyzing the sea-level proxies that are preserved in coastal karst basins. In order to use karst sea-level proxies, researchers must also understand the hydrography and stratification of coastal aquifers. In conclusion, sea-level change drives environmental change in CKBs worldwide, which in turn forces CKBs to transition through predictable environmental states.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Coastal Caves and Sinkholes, in I. Shennan, A. J. Long & B. P. Horton (Eds.), Handbook of Sea-Level Research, John Wiley & Sons, p. 83-103