Geography and Natural Resources

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 303–311 | Cite as

Evolutionary stages of the karst-anthropogenic system of the Yucatán Peninsula

  • E. V. Lebedeva
  • D. V. Mikhalev
  • L. A. Nekrasova
Geography Abroad


An analysis is made of the karst geomorphosystems of the Yucatán Peninsula. It is found that the main factors influencing its formation were climate and ocean level oscillations, tectonic movements, and impact effects. It is established that as a result of an active influence of the Maya civilization on the karst landscape of the peninsula, the geomorphosystems was transformed to the karst-anthropogenic system. The karstic landforms, and also the underground caverns experienced the anthropogenic impact, and the subsurface waters were particularly heavily influenced, which, on the one hand, determined the places of concentration of settlements and were actively consumed by the population, and, on the other, their reserves were replenished at regular intervals as a result of the creation of artificial subsurface water storages. In a further transformation of the karst-anthropogenic system, two stages were additionally identified: dominated by natural karstic processes (after the decline of the Maya civilization), and with a renewed intensification of anthropogenic pressure (1980s–current period). The last transformation stage is distinguished by an extension of the impact to the surface karst as well as to the underground caverns: they are subjected to mechanical destruction with an enhancement in the chemical impact as a result of inputs of polluted runoffs to encompass ever deeper horizons of subsurface waters. It is established that the rates of transformation processes of anthropogenic objects created of limestone are, in general, comparable with the mean rates of natural karstic processes on the neighboring territories: the formation of karrens on Maya steles is generally proceeding at the rate of 0.04 mm/year, while the growth rates of flowstones within urban structures of limestone vary from 0.03 to 0.6 mm/year.


karstic landforms subsurface waters anthropogenic impact flowstones Maya settlements 


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Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. V. Lebedeva
    • 1
  • D. V. Mikhalev
    • 2
  • L. A. Nekrasova
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of GeographyRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Moscow V. M. Lomonosov State UniversityMoscowRussia

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