You are here: Earth > Erosion > Limestone landscapes

Limestone landscapes

Karst landscape near Minerve, France Limestone, a type of sedimentary rock, consists of the remains of tiny sea creatures that lived millions of years ago. It is made of calcium carbonate, a substance that dissolves easily in water. Because of this, limestone landscapes, also known as karst topography (from the landscape around the Kras Plateau in Slovenia), have a number of distinctive features. These include caves, pavements, swallow holes and dry valleys.

Clints and grykes on a limestone pavement

Limestone pavements

Natural cracks or joints in the limestone criss-cross the surface. These are gradually widened by water dissolving the rock to form a limestone pavement. The raised lumps are called clints, and the eroded cracks are called grykes.

Highly eroded karst landscapes in which steep-sided hills are set in flat river floodplains are called tower karst and are a famous feature of the Guilin area in south China.

Q-files now has new sections specially written for younger readers. They are: Living world, Earth, Science, Human body, Prehistoric life, Space, History, Geography and Technology.

Find the answer