Climatic Influences on Coastal Cave and Karst Development in Florida

  • Jason S. Polk
  • Robert Brinkmann
Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 5)


Coastal karst development in Florida is a complex, temporally variable phenomenon that was influenced by eustatic processes and long-term climatic variability through the Cenozoic up through the present. Much of the past history involving coastal and climatic influences on cave and karst evolution in Florida is still not well understood. Currently, Florida is home to almost 20 million people that reside one of the world’s largest and most productive karst aquifer systems, featuring hundreds of springs, caves, and sinkholes as part of its karst geomorphology. The large carbonate platform is exposed to hurricanes, sea level rise, and continued groundwater withdrawal. Therefore, it is important to consider Florida’s karst landscape as an evolving geomorphological system under both past and current environmental conditions. It is important to understand the rock, structure, gradient, fluid, and time elements of Florida’s karst development, with a particular emphasis placed on the climatic influences that shaped the landscape. Focusing on the central and northern regions of the peninsula where the ridgelands and coastal lowlands contain the most exposed karst features, the elements of gradient, fluid, and time interact with climate in such a way that the karst landscape development can be partially explained by changes in the hydrology related to water table fluctuations, sea-level changes, and variability in precipitation patterns over time. Aquifer development, speleogenesis, and paleoclimatic changes on these processes are discussed, while noting that the primary mechanisms controlling cave development,sinkhole occurrence, and karst evolution are past changes in sea level and water table movement. The state’s karst regions are described within this context to organize the discussion of the coastal karst development of peninsular Florida under variable climatic conditions.


Water Table North Atlantic Oscillation Tree Island Karst Feature Karst Development 
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 Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and GeologyWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geology, Environment, and SustainabilityHofstra UniversityHempsteadUSA

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