The Central Kentucky Karst


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Geographical Review

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The principal karst region of south-central Kentucky encompasses an area of some two hundred square miles, including a segment of doline karst, the Sinkhole plain, and a karst plateau. The plateau lies mainly within Mammoth Cave National Park and is underlain by the Flint Ridge cave system, the largest known cave in the world, and by Mammoth Cave, the third largest. The plateau is ringed with a complex of vertical shafts that are an integral part of the drainage from the perched groundwater body in the protective cap rock. The development of the karst area can be interpreted in terms of the unique relationship between the stratigraphic sequence of thick, bedded limestones and of clastic rocks and the location of recharge and discharge areas. Lateral flow from the Sinkhole plain beneath the protected plateau has generated a cave complex of long tubular conduits connected by shafts, shaft drains, and piracy routes. Enough of the system is preserved to permit a fairly complete interpretation of the physiographic development of the region.

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