Special Session on the occasion of the International Year of Caves and Karst (2021)

Special Session on Caves and Karst

28 November 2021
09:00 – 12:30 TRT (Turkey Time)

This special session is dedicated to oral/poster presentations on cave and karst studies including speleology, cave and karst explorations, geomorphology, hydrogeology, geoethics, prehistoric eras in karst, geotectonics, and the nexus between human activities and karst sustainability.

Karstophere Geoscience is the study of phenomena which cause the dissolution of soluble rocks at the surface and sub-surfaces of the Earth and how these relate to the interactions between human impacts and the overall environment. Increasing human activities have had a progressive detrimental effect on the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, geosphere, chemosphere, and anthroposphere and these in turn have presented particular challenges to the environmental sustainability of caves and karst in recent decades. In addition, complex problems in karst areas have emerged that directly threaten the sustainability and economies of local communities.

The need to understand and manage the triggering factors behind these problems and their consequences has given rise to a separate and practical discipline which uses the insights and knowledge from karstology to provide environmental solutions in line with the principles of sustainable development. These solutions, which take into account geoethics and the fragility of karst environments, are defined in terms of vital human and social needs while simultaneously considering the needs of the environment.

The new Karstosphere Geoscience discipline provides a basis to start protecting our karst and cave heritage on the occasion of the International Year of Caves and Karst 2021. It will be introduced as an interdisciplinary approach that takes into account the complexity of the Anthropocene. The hope is that it can bring together the opinions and experiences of karst and cave experts worldwide to establish the necessary framework to design a roadmap for this new science being established. This scientific discipline acts in service of a society that needs to prioritize sustainability and enjoyment of the aesthetics of the karst and cave heritage, responding to the needs of this and future generations.

Publication of an edited volume within a Springer book series indexed in Scopus is planned for after the conference. The volume will be entitled “Karstosphere Geoscience: karst and caves defining the new frontiers of geoethics and sustainability”.

Topics covered by the session and the book:

  1. Karstosphere: An old concept adapted to a new function with practical definitions for integrated responsible management of karst and caves.
  2. Karst and the atmosphere: climate change, atmospheric events and the vulnerability of caves and karst.
  3. Karst and the lithosphere: spatial distribution of carbonate and evaporite, karst denudation and geomorphological aspects of host rocks.
  4. Karst and the hydrosphere: hydrogeological overview of karst and cave hydraulic regimes and karst aquifer hydrogeoethics.
  5. Karst and the cryosphere: glacial karst development and pseudokarst landforms.
  6. Karst and the biosphere: biodiversity in karst and cave environments, fragility and bio-geo-conversation.
  7. Karst and the geosphere: the impact of tectonics, volcanism, magmatism, and the Earth’s motion on the evolution of karst and caves.
  8. Karst and the anthroposphere: historical and modern human-karst interactions.
  9. Karst and the chemosphere: dissolution processes and hydrogeochemistry of caves and karst; the behavior and fate of chemicals in the cave and karst environment.
  10. Karst and the moral sphere: geoethics and sustainability of caves and karst.


  • Mario Parise

    Mario Parise

    Professor in Engineering Geology
    Earth and Environmental Sciences Department
    University Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy

  • Kamal Taheri

    Kamal Taheri

    Karst & Groundwater Expert
    Head of Applied Research Group
    Kermanshah Regional Water Authority (KRWA)
    Ministry of Energy, Iran


  • Francisco Gutiérrez

    Francisco Gutiérrez

    Full Professor, Vice-President of the International Association of Geomorphologists
    Editorial Board Member of "Environmental Earth Sciences" (Springer) and "Geomorphology" (Elsevier)
    Department of Earth Sciences, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain

Francisco Gutiérrez (b. Salamanca 1969) studied Geology at the Universities of Zaragoza (Spain) and Aberdeen (UK). He is currently Full Professor at the Department of Earth Sciences in the University of Zaragoza. Francisco was the Secretary of the 6th International Conference on Geomorphology (Zaragoza, 2005) and served as Treasurer of the IAG (International Association of Geomorphologists) between 2005 and 2013. His main research topics include karst, slope movements, tectonic geomorphology and geomorphological mapping, and has conducted investigations in various regions (Alaska, Rocky Mountains, Colorado Plateau, Malta, Zagros Mountains, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Spain). He has published more than 115 papers in journals included in the Journal Citation Report (JCR of the Web of Science). Francisco is a member of the Editorial Board of "Environmental Earth Sciences" (Springer) and "Geomorphology" (Elsevier), and has co-edited eleven special issues for international journals. He has co-edited the book "Landscapes and Landforms of Spain" (Springer) and is the co-author of the book "Landforms of the Earth" (Springer). Recently, he was appointed as an expert by the International Court of Justice and a member of the Seismic Source Characterization Team of a SSHAC Level 3 Project in Spain. Prof. Francisco Gutiérrez is the Vice-President of the IAG (2017 – 2021).

In his keynote Prof. Francisco Gutiérrez will present some of the main findings of recent investigations on karst depressions conducted in several karst areas in the Middle East. Sinkhole activity is experiencing a significant increase in many of these regions despite their aridity. This hazard enhancement is mainly related to unprecedented alterations in the hydrological systems imposed by human activity and can be considered as one of the manifestations of the Anthropocene.

International Year of Caves and Karst MOVIE