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Surface and subsurface karst geomorphology in the Murge (Apulia, southern Italy)
Mario Parise - (40/1,2011)
The Murge (Apulia, southern Italy) is the main karst area in the central part of the region, extending from the inland plateau to the Adriatic coastline. Along this transect, a relief energy of a few hundred meters is reached. Even though such relief may seem small when compared to mountain karst areas, actually it is not for Apulia, a very flat carbonate region that acted as the foreland during the building up of the Apenninic Chain in Miocene time. Murge can be subdivided into two sectors: High Murge, the inland plateau, where remnants of an ancient tropical karst are still recognizable; and Low Murge, closer to the sea, with smoother karst morphologies and landforms. Here, some of the most remarkable underground karst systems of Apulia are located: the Castellana caves, a show cave that has been opened since 1939 to tourists (only a few months after the discovery), and the Pozzo Cuc¨ karst system. Overall, the two systems (that are located few hundreds of meters apart) are more than 5.5 km long. In addition, many other karst caves are widespread in the territory, showing different typologies, from percolation shafts, to intrastratal caves, to tectonically-controlled caves, down to marine caves along the coastline. At the surface, other interesting morphological features related to karst may be observed, the main one being the Canale di Pirro polje, which cuts the SE Murge with an E-w strike, until its easternmost reach against the Murge fault line scarp. This latter is the main morphological feature intervening between the Murge plateau and the Adriatic plain. In this article the karst morphological features of Murge are depicted, putting together surface and underground data, in the effort to contribute to the recognition of the main phases of development of karst processes in the region.
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