1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Karst

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KARST, in physical geography, the region east of the northern part of the Adriatic. It is composed of high and dry limestone ridges. The country is excessively faulted by a long series of parallel fractures that border the N.E. Adriatic and continue inland that series of steps which descend beneath the sea and produce the series of long parallel islands off the coast of Triest and along the Dalmatian shore. It has been shown by E. Suess (Antlitz der Erde, vol. i. pt. 2, ch. iii.) that the N. Adriatic is a sunken dish that has descended along these fractures and folds, which are not uncommonly the scene of earthquakes, showing that these movements are still in progress. The crust is very much broken in consequence and the water sinks readily through the broken limestone rocks, which owing to their nature are also very absorbent. The result is that the scenery is barren and desolate, and as this structure always, wherever found, gives rise to similar features, a landscape of this character is called a Karst landscape. The water running in underground channels dissolves and denudes away the underlying rock, producing great caves as at Adelsberg, and breaking the surface with sinks, potholes and unroofed chasms. The barren nature of a purely limestone country is seen in the treeless regions of some parts of Derbyshire, while the underground streams and sinks of parts of Yorkshire, and the unroofed gorge formed by the Cheddar cliffs, give some indication of the action that in the high fractured mountains of the Karst produces a depressing landscape which has some of the features of the “bad lands” of America, though due to a different cause.