Inventory development for surface karst features of the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Patricia A Beddows, K H Webster, S M Kras

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The Yucatan is an expansive karst peninsula devoid of surface rivers. Instead, shallow flooded cave systems flow at rates of 0.5-2.5 km/day, discharging to coastal springs. Development plans along the Caribbean Coast (south of Cancun) include several new cities of >200 000 inhabitants. While groundwater remains the only potable water source, the distribution of the caves is incompletely known particularly in areas distant from the limited road network. Access to the caves is through collapse sinkholes, locally called cenotes, which often directly overly the cave systems. Cenotes and dissolution depressions may therefore serve as surface proxies for the underlying cave systems. However data on these surface karst features also remains limited and dispersed. With the goal of ultimately establishing a GIS based karst inventory, we are working towards establishing a standardised data collection methodology that may be employed by local persons, tourists, and visiting college classes hosted at NGO's with whom we are working. The data collection methodology therefore needs to be rapid, applicable by persons of diverse backgrounds and with limited prior experience in the area or in karst terrains in general, and provided in both Spanish and English. A 3 page data collection form has been created, and this is supported by a 10 page orientation guide including instructions and examples of field sketching, a field picture guide, and inventory sheets for GPS coordinates and photographs. While developing these materials, data have been collected on 50 dissolution shafts and depressions, 12 cenotes, and 4 rock shelters, all in the course of 1 month. The next stages in this programme will be data collection by volunteers who were not directly involved in the methodology development so that the materials may be further advanced based on independent user feedback, and development of a web portal for centralised data delivery and archiving. Once established, this programme will also provide direct educational experiences beyond georeferenced data acquisition, through education modules aimed at senior high-school and college levels on the surface and subsurface hydrology of this world class cenote karst landscape.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 2006
EventGeological Society of America Abstracts - Philadelphi, PA
Duration: Jan 1 2006 → …


ConferenceGeological Society of America Abstracts
Period1/1/06 → …


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