Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


In karst basins, significant amounts of surface-derived sediment can enter into cave systems. The transport and deposition of these sediments in underground streams is a function of flow velocity, sediment supply and passage morphology. Changes in the surface environment can affect the water and sediment supplies to subsurface drainage systems and thus may be reflected in the sedimentary structure, texture and rates of deposition of cave sediments. Cave sediments in two south central Kentucky caves were studied to evaluate a possible, relationship between variations in deposit characteristics and variations in surface changes, including land-use. Samples were collected using coring tubes to preserve the structure within the sediment. The structure was documented visually, recording distinct changes in the layering. The textural variations were determined through sieving samples at 5 cm intervals. Passage morphology was documented through detailed mapping of the passage in the vicinity of the sediment banks. Rates of deposition were determined through Cesium and Carbon isotope analysis of the sediments and these dates were then compared to major changes in land-use in the drainage basin. It was determined that the character of sediments deposited at particular locations likely depends on the distance from the source of sediment, passage geometry and surface land use history.



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