Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Karst research

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.12.00  Humanities  Geography   

Code Science Field
P5   Natural sciences and mathematics  P5  

Code Science Field
6.05  Humanities  Other humanities 
karst, karstology, study of carbonate rocks, karst surface, karst caves and water, ecology, natural heritage, history of karstology, karst terminology, planning of life on karst, karstology teaching
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (18)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  37554  PhD Matej Blatnik  Geography  Junior researcher  2014  207 
2.  16180  PhD Franci Gabrovšek  Mechanics  Researcher  2009 - 2014  468 
3.  33362  PhD Petra Gostinčar  Geography  Junior researcher  2010 - 2014  109 
4.  11067  PhD Martin Knez  Geography  Researcher  2009 - 2014  706 
5.  06382  PhD Janja Kogovšek  Geology  Researcher  2010 - 2014  555 
6.  36395  PhD Peter Kozel  Biology  Junior researcher  2013 - 2014  71 
7.  00986  PhD Andrej Kranjc  Geography  Researcher  2009 - 2014  1,432 
8.  09652  PhD Andrej Mihevc  Geography  Researcher  2009 - 2014  801 
9.  20220  PhD Janez Mulec  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  503 
10.  14851  PhD Bojan Otoničar  Geology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  263 
11.  12605  PhD Metka Petrič  Geology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  537 
12.  15687  PhD Tanja Pipan  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2009 - 2014  399 
13.  25648  PhD Mitja Prelovšek  Geography  Researcher  2009 - 2014  261 
14.  08099  PhD Tadej Slabe  Geography  Head  2009 - 2014  693 
15.  18811  Sonja Stamenković    Technical associate  2009 - 2014 
16.  10443  PhD Stanka Šebela  Geology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  532 
17.  27508  PhD Janez Turk  Civil engineering  Researcher  2009 - 2012  216 
18.  01004  PhD Nadja Zupan Hajna  Geography  Researcher  2009 - 2014  489 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0618  Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts  Ljubljana  5105498000  63,177 
The basic knowledge on karst is continuously deepened as this enriches the understanding of our natural heritage and enables the reasonable planning of life in this sensitive landscape. At the same time this is the basis for high school teaching. The multidisciplinary structure of the research team (geographers, geologists, chemist, biologist, microbiologist, physicist and now also karstologists) connected with other Slovene and foreign institutions and our position in the international karstological circles place our Institute on a firm basis. The only way to understand the karst is to use various approaches and synthesize them into a whole. Due to the special features of soluble carbonates, the impact of various limestones and dolomites on the karstification and formation of the karst surface and caves will be examined from the lithopetrologic and stratigraphic points of view. Development of the karst surface and subsurface forms also depends on geologic structural characteristics . We will carry out a detailed tectonic and geologic mapping of the karst and relate its development with the geologic structure. One of the major areas of our work is also research of the formation of the karst underground and surface, both of which are connected in terms of space and development. We will strive to gain knowledge and develop methods of research which will enable the explanation of the age and development of surface and subsurface relief forms incorporated in the whole environment. We will proceed with the study of cave and surface sediments. The disintegration of limestone and dolomite in caves as well as the crystallisation of stalactites will be examined. Due to the heterogeneity of the karst, there are many open questions on the characteristics of the flowing and storing of water as well as of transport of substances. At the selected testing ground the hydrogeological features will be determined, appropriate indices will be measured and conclusions will be made regarding the characteristics of hydrodynamic functioning of the karst water system. Research into the karst water flows is the basis for good planning of the living environment in the karst region. Therefore, the burdening and vulnerability of the karst water flows as well as their self-purification ability will be defined. The knowledge gained will serve as the basis for appropriate protection. Understanding the processes of dissolution and transport of substances in the karst system is one of the basic interests of the karst scientists. The process is observed through measurements and monitoring while the numerical model of development dynamics of the karst water flows and karst surface forms will enable a more profound understanding. Slovenia is one of the richest areas of stygobionts in the world. We will sample the epikarst fauna. We hope to discover several species which have not yet been described and thus prove the significant importance of the epikarst water habitats for the hypogean fauna of the karst natural environment. The algae in the karst caves have not yet been examined thoroughly yet. We will evaluate and compare the species composition of algae in various caves. The history of karst science and speleology as well as the karst terminology will be examined. The findings of Slovenian and foreign karst scientists will be collected in our internationally recognized journal "Acta carsologica". Together with the Speleological Association of Slovenia, we will keep the register of caves. Data on 8,000 caves have been collected so far. We will continue with acquisition of the recognizsed library on karst science. The acquired knowledge will be used as the basis for planning in this specific landscape and teaching on the karst. We will continue to organise the International School of Karst Science :Classic Karst - and continue with the post-graduate curriculum at our School of Karst Science which operates within the Polytechnic in Nova Gorica.
Significance for science
Our, one of the worldwide leading development efforts for comprehensive karstology in terms of substance and organization are aimed at consolidating karstology as an independent scientific discipline. The basic research is focused on the integral karstology fields, and links between them provide integrated understanding of 3D karst landscapes. We develop research methods, our findings serve to organize living on karst, karst protection and education. It turns out that this is the best approach. The results obtained from years of observation of tectonic micro movements in karst caves were included in the EU infrastructure project EPOS, and integrated in a wider research on the movement of the Eurasian and African Plate, which is relevant for the observation of earthquakes. Insights about how different carbonate rocks are shaped in different settings reveal the underlying features of the development of karst phenomena. Research of paleokarst phenomena and of paleokarst landscape development is important for explaining global sea level fluctuations, the associated climate changes, and local/regional geotectonic events. Cave climate studies facilitate alternative explanations about the formation and creation of sediments in cave entrances, which is important when interpreting archaeological cave sites. Ice cave and cave air circulation research helps locating zones of karst permafrost in high karst, providing an important basis for calibrating the scope of global climate changes in our environment. Karst geomorphology studies enabled us to establish a new paradigm on the development of Dinaric karst. Analysis of tectonic movements which are evident from the relief can be connected with caves and cave sediments which are key to more precise relief dating. Cave sediment research results enable insights into paleoclimatic conditions in the period of the sediment formation, their origin, relation to tectonic events and development of karst and caves, and the geomorphologic evolution of the territory in terms of location and period. The knowledge generated is essential in the development of modern trends in global speleogenesis and influences the course of the karstology science. Knowledge of current underground processes, underlying factors and emerging shapes is key for understanding the evolution of subterranean karst. The data obtained from measurements are upgraded to a quantitative conceptual model. We also observe the anthropogenic influence. Results from systematic research entailing various methods facilitate understanding the processes in various karst aquifers around the world – even highly complex ones. In addition, this gives us the chance to identify possible negative impacts and act accordingly. An important area of our work is the implementation of quantitative methods in karstology. Numeric and analytical models for karst evolution and transfer of substances and heat across karst provide an innovative approach on a global scale. Our approach for studying the evolution of subterranean organisms is a global innovation and ensures the originality of results and the acquisition of new knowledge in a broader evolutionary context. The study findings is the base for understanding adaptations sensu lato, and not just the evolution of subterranean organisms. For a comprehensive understanding of complex natural systems it is key to know the interactions and naturally present microbiota and those that are the result of human activity. Sustainable management of natural phenomena cannot come about without knowing the natural background. We were involved in designing karstological planning methods for interventions in karst and karst protection (water supply, road construction, development of cave tourism). Acta Carsologica is one of the leading karstology journals. Our doctoral Karstology study programme was appointed the Unesco Chair on Karst Education.
Significance for the country
The land of karst and karstology, 44% of Slovenia is covered by karst. It is also the land of the Classical Karst, with over 50% of countries water supply from karst aquifers. Karstology examines this important heritage and provides a basis for sensible organization of living on karst and karstology education. We acquired new insights about our karst and deepened our understanding of its formation and evolution, and on its ecological features. The comprehensive karstology developed here is one of the globally superior. Paleokarst research, in particular research of hypogenic caves, is novel in Slovenia, and provides important new insights about the country’s geologic history. An important contribution to the dynamics of active tectonic movements in our territory is the understanding of the characteristics of tectonic micro movements in karst caves. Understanding the forms of karst phenomena allows us to identify the formation and evolution of karst on different rocks and environments. Results of cave sediments research provided new insights relevant for Slovenia (its geologic history, surface evolution and karst age) and the international scientific arena. We have a better grasp of the flow of water, transfer of pollution and processes taking place in karst aquifers in Slovenia, enabling us to design measures to preserve their quality. New approaches and a paradigm shift about the adaptation of organisms to subterranean habitats will come useful in the study of other ecosystems and in any industry where mapping of habitat types and species is required before disturbing the environment. This is especially important in the delicate and vulnerable karst. Cave microbiology highlights the importance of taking part in global trends, transfer of best lab practices and developing a multidisciplinary research method. Solid basic karst knowledge and its comprehensive understanding are the starting point for planning in karst and its protection: settlement development, planning/construction of roads, landfills and power lines locations, water supply and tourism development. We took part in various directly applicable projects. For the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning and multiple international associations (e.g. UNESCO, International Union for Conservation of Nature) we drew up expert frameworks and impact assessments on the environment associated with human impact in this region. We were also involved in the selection of the UNESCO karst heritage and its preservation. We gathered data on new Slovenian caves for their conservation, and our findings appeared in a new books series called Karstology and Developmental Challenges on Karst. Together with experts from other fields, we designed new methods to plan and construct roads. Our findings were summed up in a book (Springer) on the planning of the railway line from Divača to Koper. Our karstology library is a part of the public library system and one of the finest on an international scale. At Slovenian universities (the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ljubljana, the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Primorska, the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Maribor and the College for Sustainable Tourism) we carry out karstology study subjects. We were involved in international professional courses (cave guides). Our karstology doctoral programme, which is carried out at the University of Nova Gorica, became the Unesco Chair on Karst Education. We have consolidated Slovenia's significance as a country boasting one of the longest and finest karstology traditions. This was supported by fine research work at home and abroad, karst education and fostering international links between karstologists (i.e. via the International Karstological School, Acta carsologica scientific journal (SCI), seat of the International Union of Speleology, founding and managing the Joint Research Center for Karstology in Kunming, China).
Audiovisual sources (1)
no. Title (with video link) Event Source
1. Karst research    Research programme video presentation 
Most important scientific results Annual report 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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