Karst Landforms & Cycle of Erosion | Stalactite & Stalagmite

PMF IAS Environment

Karst Landforms – Cavern, Arch/Natural Bridge, Sink Hole/Swallow Hole, Karst Window, Sinking Creeks/Bogas, Stalactite and Stalagmite.

Landforms and Cycle of Erosion

Karst Landforms and Cycle of Erosion

  • Karst is a landscape which is underlain by limestone which has been eroded by dissolution, producing towers, fissures, sinkholes, etc.
  • It is so named after a province of Yugoslavia on the Adriatic sea coast where such formations are most noticeable.
  • Karst topography is a landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum.
  • It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes, caves etc..

Conditions Essential for Full Development of Karst Topography

  • Presence of soluble rocks, preferably limestone at the surface or sub-surface level.
  • These rocks should be dense, highly jointed and thinly bedded.


  • This is an underground cave formed by water action by various methods in a limestone or chalk area.

Cavern - karst landforms - karst cave

Arch/Natural Bridge

  • When a part of the cavern collapses the portion which keeps standing forms an arch.

Sink Hole/Swallow Hole

  • Sink holes are funnel-shaped depressions having an average depth of three to nine metres.
  • These holes are developed by enlargement of the cracks found in such rocks, as a result of continuous solvent action of the rainwater.
  • The surface streams which sink disappear underground through swallow holes.

Sink Hole-Swallow Hole-karst landformsSink Hole-Swallow Hole-karst landforms

Karst Window

  • When a number of adjoining sink holes collapse, they form an open, broad area called a karst window.

Karst Window - karst landform

Sinking Creeks/Bogas

  • In a valley, the water often gets lost through cracks and fissures in the bed. These are called sinking creeks, and if their tops are open, they are called bogas.

Sinking Creeks-Bogas-karst

Stalactite and Stalagmite

  • The water containing limestone in solution, seeps through the roof in the form of a continuous chain of drops.
  • A portion of the roof hangs on the roof and on evaporation of water, a small deposit of limestone is left behind contributing to the formation of a stalactite, growing downwards from the roof.
  • The remaining portion of the drop falls to the floor. This also evaporates, leaving behind a small deposit of limestone aiding the formation of a stalagmite, thicker and flatter, rising upwards from the floor.
  • Sometimes, stalactite and stalagmite join together to form a complete pillar known as the column.

Stalactites - stalagmites karst landforms

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    • In a Karst Cavern (let us simply call it karst cave), when water seeps through the ceiling (upper part of the cave) it trickles drop by drop . Small amount of water drop evaporates even before falling down from the ceiling leaving behind very minute limestone particles (Take a look at these images: https://goo.gl/m0TKU0 & https://goo.gl/ZqaoVy). Over a period of time (few years) the process of evaporation continues as the limestone particles keep accumulating at to the ceiling forming a inverted cone like structure).

      This a common phenomenon that we observe in our daily lives. A leaky ceiling is the simple example (See image: https://goo.gl/O1JsM8)

  1. Sir, these geography notes are very helpful, appreciate your efforts. Please provide notes for history and polity also.


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