Science - 2018-19

ES.8 b-c - Karst Topography & Zones

The student will investigate and understand how freshwater resources are influenced by geologic processes and the activities of humans. Key concepts include
b) development of karst topography; and
c) relationships between groundwater zones, including saturated and unsaturated zones, and the water table.

Bloom's Levels:  Analyze; Understand

Adopted: 2010


  • Earth's surface is built up and worn down by natural processes, such as rock formation, erosion, and weathering.
  • The surface of Earth has identifiable major features-- land masses, oceans, rivers, lakes, mountains, canyons, and glaciers.

  • I can explain how events such as the train derailment in 2014 impact the drinking water supply.


  • Karst topography is developed in areas underlain by carbonate rocks, including limestone and dolomite. Karst topography includes features like caves and sinkholes and forms when limestone is slowly dissolved away by slightly acidic groundwater. Where limestone is abundant in the Valley and Ridge province of Virginia, karst topography is common. 
  • Permeability is a measure of the ability of a rock or sediment to transmit water or other liquids. Water does not pass through impermeable materials. A substantial amount of water is stored in permeable soil and rock underground.
  • Earth’s fresh water supply is finite. Geological processes, such as erosion, and human activities, such as waste disposal, can pollute water supplies. 


In order to meet this standard, it is expected that students will

b)  analyze the formation of karst in terms of rock type, solubility and permeability, uplift, the water table, and chemical and physical weathering. 

c)  interpret a simple groundwater diagram showing the zone of aeration, the zone of saturation, the water table, and an aquifer.

     analyze the presence of groundwater in various types of rock terrains, including areas found in each of the physiographic provinces of Virginia.

     analyze the relationship between salt-water intrusion in the ground water in certain areas of eastern Virginia and buried crater structures.


water cycle, precipitation, groundwater, tributary, watershed, divide, habitat, reservoir, wetland, permeable, impermeable, saturated zone, water table, unsaturated zone, spring, aquifer, artesian well, geyser, irrigation, conservation, water pollution, pollutant, point source, nonpoint source, water quality, concentration, pH, hardness, coliform, filtration, coagulation

Updated: May 30, 2018