Carbonates and Evaporites

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 2–14 | Cite as

Evaporite karst in the United States

  • Kenneth S. JohnsonEmail author


Evaporites, including gypsum (or anhydrite) and salt, are the most soluble of common rocks; they are dissolved readily to form caves, sinkholes, disappearing streams, and other karst features that typically are found in limestones and dolomites. The four basic requirements for evaporite karst to develop are: (1) a deposit of gypsum or salt; (2) water, unsaturated with CaSO4 or NaCl; (3) an outlet for escape of dissolving water; and (4) energy to cause water to flow through the system. Evaporites are present in 32 of the 48 contiguous states, and they underlie about 35–40% of the land area; they are reported in rocks of every geologic system from the Precambrian through the Quaternary. Evaporite karst is known at least locally (and sometimes quite extensively) in almost all areas underlain by evaporites. The most widespread and pronounced examples of both gypsum and salt karst are in the Permian basin of the southwestern United States, but many other areas are also significant. Human activities have caused some evaporite-karst development, primarily in salt deposits. Boreholes may enable (either intentionally or inadvertently) unsaturated water to flow through or against salt deposits, thus allowing development of small to large dissolution cavities. If the dissolution cavity is large enough and shallow enough, successive roof failures above the cavity can cause land subsidence or catastrophic collapse.


Gypsum Anhydrite Evaporite Land Subsidence Karst Feature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oklahoma Geological SurveyUniversity of OklahomaNorman

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