The Goal of this Report is to Produce Maps of the Known and Potential Karst Landform Sites in the Northwest Territories (NWT) Karst landforms are those created by the dissolution of comparatively soluble rocks and the routing of the water (from rain or snowmelt) underground via caves rather than at the surface in river channels. The principal karst rocks are salt (so soluble that it is scarcely seen at the surface in the NWT), gypsum and anhydrite (solubility around 2500 mg/l of water), and limestone and dolomite (solubility around 250 -350 mg/l). All of these rock types are common and widespread amongst the sedimentary strata in the NWT. Surface karst landforms include: a)
which are spreads of individually small solution pits, shafts, and runnels that, collectively, may cover many hectares (
of solutional, collapse, or other origin that can be tens to hundreds of metres in diameter and proportionally as deep. Sinkholes are considered the diagnostic karst landform worldwide; c)
larger topographically closed depressions that may flood or drain seasonally,
if flat-floored, otherwise
, dry because their formative waters have been captured underground. All water sinking underground via karst landforms of all sizes drain quickly in comparison with all other types of groundwater because they are able to flow through solutionally enlarged conduits, termed
where they are of enterable size. In principle, karst development in the NWT might be expected to be limited due to: (i) the impacts of repeated episodes of glaciation bulldozing sinkholes and blocking caves and (ii) the post-glacial growth of permafrost, which inhibits groundwater flow through the top few metres or tens of metres of the soil and rock. It is therefore surprising to find that karst landforms and groundwater flow are widespread in the NWT, and display great variety in both form and scale, the richest known anywhere in the arctic/sub-arctic regions of our planet. Globally, karst is of great economic importance for water supplies with ~20% of the world’s population partly to entirely dependent on it as a source. Limestone and dolomite are widely used for road and building stone and host economic minerals, and oil and gas. The karst-centred tourist industry is large, with income >$1 billion annually. There are more than 20 important karst areas amongst the UNESCO World Heritage natural properties, including Wood Buffalo and Nahanni National Parks in the NWT.