Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 61, Issue 7, pp 1473–1480 | Cite as

Submerged caves of Croatia: distribution, classification and origin

  • Maša SurićEmail author
  • Robert Lončarić
  • Nina Lončar
Original Article


Presently, 235 submerged caves and pits have been recorded along the Croatian coast and islands, partly or completely submerged by sea water. Contrary to the inland situation, recorded submerged features are predominantly horizontal (60%), though there are indications that the real situation is similar to that of the continental part where 69% are vertical pits. Completely marine conditions are established in 126 caves and the rest are anchihaline caves and submarine springs. Speleothems are found in more than 140 caves. By their origin, the investigated caves are all continental features formed in Mesozoic and Palaeogene carbonates, subsequently submerged owing to sea transgression. Due to the relatively low wave energy, rapid sea level rise and maturity of the host rock, they do not fit into concepts of a sea cave or a flank margin cave development, but they fulfil several conditions for being the blue holes. Since the term ‘blue hole’ is mainly associated with the Bahamian karst, our attempt is only to show the possible similarities with no intention of ascribing that term to the Croatian caves. Beside karstological issues, Croatian submerged caves are unique environmental, archaeological and tourism assets.


Submerged caves Karst Adriatic Sea Croatia 



We wish to express our gratitude to Č. Benac, N. Buzjak, M. Garašić, B. Jalžić, V. Jalžić, M. Juračić, V. Mihelčić, O. Pečar, D. Petricioli, T. Rađa and P. Tasić for providing data, sketches, photos and remarks on submerged locations. We are grateful to anonymous reviewers for the detailed review and valuable suggestions and comments, which substantially improved the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of ZadarZadarCroatia

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