UIS Commission on Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis
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Karstbase Bibliography Database

Denton, Jr. R.K.
Towards a karst assessment standard practice
Sinkholes and the Engineering and Environmental Impacts of Karst: Proceedings of the Thirteenth Multidisciplinary Conference, May 6-10, Carlsbad, New Mexico: NCKRI Symposium 2.
Carlsbad
2013
1
12

The assessment of karst conditions and putative karst geohazards prior to residential and commercial development is currently in its infancy, from a scientific aspect. Borrowing from the medical lexicon, most karst features at proposed building sites are dealt with using an approach wherein the “symptoms and conditions” are treated (e.g. sinkhole remediation), often only after site development activities have commenced. If karst hazards are suspected, roadways, foundations and specific at-risk areas may be investigated using various geophysical methods; however the results of these investigations require specialized knowledge to be interpreted and understood. Thus stakeholders without geological training may find the investigator’s results indecipherable, often leading to unnecessary and expensive supplemental studies, the need for which is entirely based on the non-technical stakeholder’s faith in the investigator’s judgment.
In contrast, a recent trend among consulting firms is to attach cursory karst “assessments” to due diligence study reports, particularly Phase I Environmental Site Assessments. These combined assessments are often performed by individuals who are inexperienced in geology, often without any specific training in karst geology. Not unexpectedly, this can lead to numerous mistakes, errors, and oversights. More troubling, these studies often report a lack of karst risks at the site under study, a result that the stakeholders may initially embrace, but which later can result in substantial financial loss and/or significant threats to human health and the environment.
To address these concerns, we propose a proactive, “preventative” standard practice for karst assessments. Ideally, this proactive approach will help to delineate potential karst hazards so that they can be avoided, managed, or corrected by remediation. Requirements for investigators, a proposed scope of services, fieldwork and data review checklist, and a template for a follow-up karst management plan are presented. It is our hope that if carried out and reported accurately, the proposed assessments should allow even a non-technical stakeholder to make informed decisions regarding the relative risk of karst geohazards, the need for further studies, and potential corrective actions that site development may entail.

SINKHOLE
978-0-9795422-7-5
Denton, Jr. R.K. , 2013, Towards a karst assessment standard practice , 1 - 12 http://www.karstportal.org/sites/karstportal.org/files/KIP-0011735-25.pdf