Karst Landscapes of the Interior Low Plateaus

David A. Franzi, SUNY College at Plattsburgh
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Initial Publication Date: June 10, 2014 | Reviewed: June 24, 2014


This laboratory exercise examines the linkages between ground and surface water hydrology and landscape evolution in the Interior Low Plateaus Region of Kentucky. The exercise focuses upon the origin of Mammoth Cave.

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The activity is designed for mid-level undergraduate geology and environmental science students. It is a required course for the BS environmental science program and an elective for the geology and other environmental science curricula. The student audience generally consists of 60-65% environmental science and 30-35% geology majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Geomorphology requires only physical (introductory) geology as a prerequisite. The lab activity uses Geographic Information Systems software but the GIS applications are straightforward so an introductory GIS course is not required.

How the activity is situated in the course

The exercise is a one-week long laboratory in a series of lab exercises designed to familiarize students with the geology of different physiographic regions in the US.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The exercise combines traditional topographic map and aerial image analysis and GIS technology with process-oriented regional geomorphology.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students bring together data from multiple landform analyses and answer questions that address geomorphic system function and landscape evolution.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students are required to use GIS software and develop new skills as the semester progresses.

Description and Teaching Materials

Karst Landscapes of the Interior Low Plateaus (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 2MB Jun13 14)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Students are evaluated on the overall quality of their responses to questions posed in the exercise as demonstrated by their level of preparation (literature review), breadth of comprehension and the quality of the graphic elements. Each question or task is evaluated four-point scale i.e.; 4 = exemplary, 3 = proficient, 2 = satisfactory and 1 = unsatisfactory; the grading rubric is attached to the exercise document.

References and Resources