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Featured article from geoscience journal

Geomorphology, 2011, Vol 132, Issue 1, p. 17-28
Morphometric analysis of three-dimensional networks of karst conduits
Abstract:

The main idiosyncrasy of a typical karst system is the presence of a three-dimensional network of conduits behaving as drains in the system and being responsible of both the quick response of karst springs to rainfall events and the complex distribution of solutes in the system. A morphometric analysis of the three-dimensional geometry of conduits provides quantitative measures that can be used in a range of applications. These morphometric parameters can be used as descriptors of the underground geomorphology, they provide information on speleogenesis processes, they can be correlated with karst denudation ratios, they can be used to control the simulation of realistic stochastic karst networks of conduits, and they can be correlated with hydrogeologic behaviour of the karst system. The main purpose of this paper is to define, describe and illustrate a range of morphometric indexes and morphometric functions that can be calculated nowadays because the availability of three-dimensional topographies provided by speleological work and the availability of the computational and graphical power provided by modern computers. Some of the morphometric parameters describe the existence of preferential directions of karstification, others describe the kartification along the vertical and the possible presence of inception horizons. Other indexes describe the shape complexity of the karstic network, whilst other indexes describe spatial variability of the conduit geometry, and other parameters give account of the connectivity of the three-dimensional network. The morphometric analysis is illustrated with a three-dimensional karstic network in Southern France.
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