Table of Contents
ISRN Geology
Volume 2013, Article ID 160397, 7 pages
Research Article

Approaching Cave Level Identification with GIS: A Case Study of Carter Caves

1Department of Geology Geography, Illinois State University, Campus Box 4400, Normal, IL 61790-4400, USA
2Southeastern Minnesota Water Resource Center, Department of Geosciences, Winona, MN 55987, USA

Received 3 June 2013; Accepted 28 July 2013

Academic Editors: J. P. Suc and X.-M. Yang

Copyright © 2013 Brianne S. Jacoby et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cave passages that are found at similar elevations are grouped together and called levels. The current understanding is that passages within a level are speleogenetically linked to a common static baselevel or stratigraphic control. Cave levels have provided an interpretive framework for deciphering cave development, landscape evolution, and climatic changes. Cosmogenic dating has been successfully used to interpret levels in Mammoth Cave and the Cumberland Plateau; however, this technique is expensive and there are limited funding resources available. Geographic information systems may be used as preliminary procedures to identify cave levels and constrain the timing of level development. A GIS method is applied to the Carter Cave system in northeastern Kentucky. Cave entrance elevations along stream valleys were found by extracting elevation values from a  m digital elevation model. Using a histogram generated from the frequency of cave elevations and a natural breaks classifier, four cave levels were identified in the Carter Cave system. This work improves the understanding of the Carter Cave system evolution and contributes toa methodology that can be used to ascertain an erosion history of karst systems.