Surface landforms and speleological investigation for a better understanding of karst hydrogeological processes: a history of research in southeastern Italy


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Publication Date

January 2018


Small-size karst landforms may potentially provide very useful information to fully understand the behaviour of karst systems and their dynamics. In this chapter we demonstrate the need to pay attention to such features. ‘Inghiottitoio della Masseria Rotolo’, located in a remarkable karst area of southern Italy, has in recent years become the most controversial and discussed speleological site in Apulia. Even though it has been known for several decades, recently excavation work has allowed cavers to enter a huge karst system, eventually reaching the water table. The total depth of the cave is now 324 m, making it the deepest in the region. This chapter summarizes the history of discoveries at the site, starting from the description of the polje, also including information about the link between toponymy and karst. The works carried out at the swallet site are then described to emphasize the importance of the often neglected small-size karst features. In fact, when carefully observed and studied, these might be able to shed new light and greatly increase our knowledge about karst. The final part of the chapter deals with the cave system and provides an outline of the ongoing research.


Small-Size Karst Landforms, Karst Systems, Inghiottitoio Della Masseria Rotolo, Southern Italy, Apulia, Cave

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications, Vol. 466 (2018-01-25).