• karst
    China's Stone Forest karst formation is a national park.

    Photograph by Scott Milton, Your Shot

    Underground Rivers
    Underground rivers, also known as subterranean rivers, flow at least partly beneath the surface of the Earth. Many underground rivers are part of a karst landscape, where eroded limestone often creates caves. Underground rivers may emerge at sinkholes or above ground, as the karst landscape gives way to soil.

    Karst is an area of land made up of limestone. Limestone, also known as chalk or calcium carbonate, is a soft rock that dissolves in water. As rainwater seeps into the rock, it slowly erodes. Karst landscapes can be worn away from the top or dissolved from a weak point inside the rock.

    Karst landscapes feature caves, underground streams and sinkholes on the surface. Where erosion has worn away the land above ground, steep rocky cliffs are visible.

    Shilin is a karst formation in southern China. In Chinese, shilin means stone forest. Shilin got its name because the tall rocks that formed due to erosion look like stone trees. Shilin is part of a larger karst landscape called the South China Karst, which spreads across the Chinese provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan.

    In Mexicos Yucatn Peninsula, you can find cenotes, which are karst sinkholes that have filled with water. Sometimes, cenotes connect to waterways underground. Mexicans and tourists use the cenotes as cool, pristine swimming pools.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    calcium carbonate Noun

    chemical compound (CaCO3) found in most shells and many rocks.

    cave Noun

    underground chamber that opens to the surface. Cave entrances can be on land or in water.

    cenote Noun

    natural sinkhole or reservoir where groundwater is available.

    chalk Noun

    a soft mineral. Also called limestone and calcium carbonate.

    cliff Noun

    steep wall of rock, earth, or ice.

    Encyclopedic Entry: cliff
    dissolve Verb

    to break up or disintegrate.

    erode Verb

    to wear away.

    karst Noun

    landscape made of limestone.

    Encyclopedic Entry: karst
    landscape Noun

    the geographic features of a region.

    Encyclopedic Entry: landscape
    limestone Noun

    type of sedimentary rock mostly made of calcium carbonate from shells and skeletons of marine organisms.

    rock Noun

    natural substance composed of solid mineral matter.

    seep Verb

    to slowly flow through a border.

    Shilin Noun

    karst formation in southern China. Also called the Stone Forest.

    sinkhole Noun

    hole formed in a rock or other solid material by the weight or movement of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: sinkhole
    stream Noun

    body of flowing water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: stream

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