New Publication on the Illinois Sinkhole Plain's Karst Terrain

The Illinois State Geological Survey has released Guidebook 39, Illinois Sinkhole Plain: Classic Karst Terrain of the Midwestern United States: Geological Field Trip Guidebook for the 12th Multidisciplinary Conference on Sinkholes and the Engineering & Environmental Impacts of Karst, January 10-14, 2011, St. Louis, Missouri, USA. The 45-page book was written by Samuel V. Panno, Keith C. Hackley, Walton R. Kelly, and Donald E. Luman.

This trip travels into the heart of Illinois' sinkhole plain along the western flank of the Illinois Basin. In this area in southwestern Illinois, the loess-and till-covered Mississippian-age limestone bedrock has given rise to a landscape of more than 10,000 cover-collapse sinkholes, active branchwork caves, and large picturesque springs. The trip discusses the karst geology and hydrogeology of the sinkhole plain and ongoing research involving

  • isotopic chemistry and an rRNA gene to find the identify and sources of nitrate and bacteria in contaminated wells and springs,
  • the use of stalagmites in nearby caves to study the periodicity of large earthquakes,
  • the significance of saline springs in the Illinois Basin,
  • and mapping efforts to identify and catalogue karst features in Illinois.

Of special interest are the 37 full-color images of the plain, springs, and caves in the area and the seven pairs of aerial photographs comparing topographic features shown in 1940 with those of the same areas in 2005. Trip stops feature Falling Springs in Dupo, Sparrow Creek Cave Spring in Carondelet, Stemler Cave Woods Nature Preserve and Columbia Saline Spring in Columbia, Camp Vandeventer and Fountain Creek Stone Bridge in Waterloo, and Rock City in Valmeyer. This guidebook can be purchased online from the ISGS Shop Site.