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  Project Background
  Federal and State agencies, the speleological community, and academia have repeatedly expressed the need for an accurate and detailed national karst map to better understand the distribution of soluble rocks in the United States. Maps at a variety of scales are needed to educate the public and legislators about karst issues, to provide a basis for cave and karst research, and to aid Federal, State, and local land-use managers in managing karst resources. The first national map of karst was the “Engineering Aspects of Karst" map by W.E. Davies and others (1984) that is a paper map at a scale of 1:7,500,000. Davies’ map was the basis of a revised national karst map published by the American Geological Institute (Veni and others, 2001), and an explanation of how the revised map was developed was published in a journal (Veni, 2002).
  In 2001, diverse group of karst experts strategized a long-term plan for improved karst mapping on a national scale. The resultant goal was for the US Geological Survey (USGS) to produce a national karst map in digital form, derived primarily for maps prepared by the individual States, and to link that map on a web-based network to State and local scale maps and related data. The National Cave and Karst Research Institute is supporting the program and serving the data on the Institute web site. Following is a summary of the meetings that have been critical in planning and progressing in this mapping effort.
Go to July 2001 July 2001
Go to December 2001 December 2001
Go to June 2002 June 2002
Go to September 2002 September 2002
Go to the References References
  July 2001: A “KarstMap” session was organized at the National Speleological Society (NSS) Convention held in Mount Vernon, Kentucky. Four papers were presented that reviewed recent progress and ongoing projects in regional mapping of karst and presented some methodologies. It was evident that much work was being done independently and more progress could be made by collaborative efforts toward a mutual goal. Presenters agreed that the time was opportune to plan a cooperative strategy for producing an improved national karst map. The National Cave and Karst Research Institute agreed that sponsorship of such a program would fit the mission of the Institute, and the effort fits into ongoing USGS projects.
  December 2001: As a follow-up to the NSS karst mapping session, a meeting was convened at the U.S. Geological Survey offices in Reston, Virginia to discuss the approach to national karst mapping and to proceed with developing a long-term program.
  Randall Orndorff, U.S. Geological Survey
  Jack Epstein, U.S. Geological Survey
  Dave Weary, U.S. Geological Survey
  Zelda Bailey, National Cave and Karst Research Institute
  Ron Kerbo, National Park Service
  Lindsay McClelland, National Park Service
  Bill Jones, Karst Waters Institute
  Bet White, Karst Waters Institute and Penn State University
  Will White, National Speleological Society and Penn State University
  George Veni, National Speleological Society
  Bernie Szukalski, ESRI
  Jim Currens, Kentucky Geological Survey
  History of USGS national karst map and examples
  History of NSS national karst map project
  Experiences of compilation of AGI karst map
  National Cave and Karst Research Institute role in a national program
  Example of State karst maps—Kentucky
  Digital concept of a national karst map
  Summary of results:
  The update of the national karst map would be built through an integration of local, state, and regional karst maps and information. State Geologists would be engaged by writing them a letter explaining the program goals and the importance of their support and participation, and by meeting with them to get their views and ideas and to determine the availability of existing data and needs for producing additional data and maps.
  The goal is to create a virtual and dynamic karst digital map
  Funding would come from existing and ongoing USGS programs, the Institute, and contributions of the States—primarily their time and the value of the products contributed to building the national map.
  USGS would lead the mapping effort and be the primary contact with the States and others.
  National Cave and Karst Research Institute would establish a web site to host the national karst map and links to States and others contributing information to build the map.
  June 2002: USGS staff were invited to the annual meeting of the Association of American State Geologists (AASG) held in New Harmony, Indiana, to talk with State Geologists about the program and to assess the interest of States in participating and contributing. Considerable interest was expressed, and USGS began to plan the first regional meeting with staff of State Geological Surveys to help plan and implement the program.
  September 2002: The first regional meeting for the Appalachian area was held in Lexington, Kentucky. Representatives from the USGS National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, National Karst Map Project met with representatives from 10 states from the Appalachian Highlands and Midwest. The meeting was hosted at the Kentucky Geological Survey; organized by the USGS; and financially supported by the National Cave and Karst Research Institute.
  The purpose of the workshop was to discuss issues associated with karst mapping within the states, share information on State karst mapping activities, and discuss how best to construct a new national karst map by compositing karst or geologic map data supplied by the States.
  Randall Orndorff, U.S. Geological Survey
  Jack Epstein, U.S. Geological Survey
  Dave Weary, U.S. Geological Survey
  Zelda Bailey, National Cave and Karst Research Institute
  Chuck Taylor, U.S. Geological Survey
  Denver Harper, Indiana Geological Survey
  Sam Frushour, Indiana Geological Survey
  Nancy Hasenmueller, Indiana Geological Survey
  Jim Currens, Kentucky Geological Survey
  Randy Paylor, Kentucky Geological Survey
  Barry Miller, Tennessee Division of Geology
  Dave Hubbard Virginia Division of Mineral Resources
  Don Monteverde, New Jersey Geological Survey
  Jane McColloch, West Virginia Geological Survey
  Jim Reger, Maryland Geological Survey
  Bill Kochanov, Pennsylvania Geological Survey
  Bill Smith, Georgia Geological Survey
  Dorothy Raymond, Alabama Geological Survey
  Proposed National Karst Map: design and status of project
  National Cave and Karst Research Institute role
  Status of karst mapping in the represented states and availability of digital karst or geologic data
  Basic karst definitions
  What criteria are used to classify areas as karst at both State and National scales
  Methodologies of karst mapping
  How can USGS and the Institute encourage or support karst mapping at the state level
  Summary of results of topical discussions:
  What is karst, and how are karst areas defined by different workers? Basic definitions.
  Jim Currens discussed a nationwide survey he is working on to determine which features mappers use as indicators of karst – sinkholes, turbulent flow (dye tracing), presence of shallow carbonate bedrock, caves, depth of burial different importance for different States; results of his survey will be posted at the Institute website.
  The consensus was that a first approximation for the new national karst map should be based on bedrock lithology; that is, soluble rocks. State or local experts could be employed to verify the accuracy and completeness of the coverage for each state. Additional refinements and layers could be added to the database as the work progresses: flat-lying versus folded bedrock, degree of karstification, karst beneath non-soluble cover sediments or rocks, different karst types, pseudokarst, areas with diffuse-flow in bedrock vs. conduits, karst aquifers, and possibly biological associations.
  A proposal was made to use USGS 7.5 minute quadrangles as pixels to generate a nationwide map of karst distribution. It was suggested that the USGS could ask each State to mark its quadrangle index map with a simple presence or absence of karst in each quadrangle. USGS would then color those quadrangles having karst and compile all the States together to form a national image. Small states would be easy to cover, but larger states might be difficult. At 1:7,500,000 scale a quadrangle would give a pixel size of a few millimeters, at 1:2,500,000 the pixel size would be about 7 mm. This approach would make a relatively coarse graphic.
  The National Karst Map should be simple (at the 1:7,500,000 scale) yet visually stimulating because this map is as far as non-specialists are likely to pursue the subject.
  GIS approaches to karst mapping: what karst features should be on State-scale karst maps, what attributes should be in the database, database standards, metadata, etc. 
  Discussion and examples of data types, scale issues, databases, metadata.
  USGS will try to build the national map by using and generalizing data supplied by the States. Ideally, the States would communicate with each other so that adjoining states are using similar criteria for mapping karst.
  Discussion of ways to measure degrees of karstification: sinkhole abundance, cave passage lengths, etc.
  Methodologies and data sources for compiling state karst maps. What is the status of digital geologic/karst mapping in the various states?
  Discussion of various methodologies and issues associated with gathering data for karst maps.
    The national karst map and most State karst maps will start by mapping soluble rock units from State geologic maps and use expertise of State personnel to include (1) intrastratal and buried karst, (2) areas of carbonate rock not karstified.
  Data security, Methodologies and protocols to protect high resolution cave location data.
  Discussion on keeping confidential cave and karst location data.
  Brief discussion of strategies for obscuring point data locations.
  A brief discussion that sinkhole locations in karst watersheds might become a homeland security issue because of their potential for input of contamination into karst groundwater.
  What support may be required for the States to make karst maps and how best may the USGS and the Institute facilitate?
  Discussion of the possibility of tying future State karst work to geologic mapping under the USGS StateMap Program if karst areas are a high priority.
  The Institute has dedicated some funding to support States for relatively small items/tasks that will improve the data for the national map.
  States need funding mainly for staffing: interns; database editing and digitizing; webpage design; karst compilation from 1:24,000 maps to digital; human resources to acquire information; operating expenses for field work to acquire information; laptop computers and other equipment for support.
  Need to develop standard formats for databases/metadata.
  It was suggested that USGS sponsor educational conferences for legislators, insurance industry, etc.; talk to Congress (need dollar value for losses etc); have National Karst Map sessions at professional meetings.
  Davies, W.E., Simpson, J.H., Ohlmacher, G.C., Kirk, W.S., and Newton, E.G., 1984, Engineering aspects of karst: U.S. Geological Survey, National Atlas, scale 1:7,500,000.
  Veni, George, DuChene, Harvey, Crawford, N.C., Groves, C.G., Huppert, G.N., Kastning, E.H., Olson, Rick, and Wheeler, B.J., 2001, Living with karst: a fragile foundation: Environmental Awareness Series, American Geological Institute, 64 p., 1 pl.
  Veni, George, 2002, Mapping the karst areas of the United States: National Speleological Society Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, Volume 64 Number 1: 45-50 - April 2002.
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