Graduate School

Alpine karst

This course is part of the programme:
Karstology (Third Level)

Objectives and competences

Alpine karst is an important special type of karst; such karst represents a great part of the Slovene karst surface and is also common in a great part of Europe. The processes running in the alpine karst are intensive and recent. The knowledge of the alpine karst is essential considering karstification processes on the surface and underground, especially in connection with young orogenesis. It is easier to understand the karst if one knows well recent evolution of karst features. Large karst alpine aquifers are important resources of drinking water and their protection against pollution is crucial. It is especially difficult because of important alpine tourist centres. The student has to master not only the alpine karst as a natural phenomenon but also the whole complex nature – human – pollution – protection.



Content (Syllabus outline)

  • Main characteristics of the alpine karst
  • Evolution of alpine cave systems
  • Ramification and general trend of alpine cave systems
  • The importance of the erosional base changes
  • Vertical distribution of alpine cave systems
  • Other views upon the evolution of the alpine karst (hypogene caves, paleokarst, Messinian event, glaciation)
  • Kitzsteinhorn – an example of a glaciated karst

Intended learning outcomes

The course offers an in-depth knowledge on alpine karst surface and subsurface features and their genesis. Student is able to recognise important genetic phases of particular alpine cave systems, based on their maps, local geology, tectonics and macro and micro morphology of karst features.


  • Audra Ph., Bini A., Gabrovšek Fr., Häuselmann Ph., Hobléa F., Jeannin P.-Y., Kunaver J., Monbaron M., Šusteršič Fr., Tognini P., Trimmel H. & Wildberger A. 2006 – Cave genesis in the Alps between the Miocene and today: a review. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, t. 50, n° 2, p. 153-176.
  • Audra Ph., Mocochain L., Camus H., Gilli É., Clauzon G., Bigot J.-Y. 2004 – The effect of the Messinian Deep Stage on karst development around the French Mediterranean. Geodinamica Acta, vol. 17, n° 6, p. 27-38.
  • Audra Ph., Quinif Y. & Rochette P. 2002 – The genesis of the Tennengebirge karst and caves (Salzburg, Austria). Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, vol. 64, n° 3, p. 153-164.
  • Audra Ph., Bigot J.-Y. & Mocochain L. 2002 -Hypogenic caves in Provence (France). Specific features and sediments. Acta Carsologica, vol. 31, n° 3, p. 33-50.
  • Audra Ph. 2001 – Feichtner cave (Kitzsteinhorn, Salzburg, Austria). A deep cave system developing into calcareous schists in a glacial environment. Acta Carsologica, vol. 30, n° 2, p. 165-174.
  • Ford, D.C., Williams, P., 2007. Karst Hydrogeology and Geomorphology. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.
  • Palmer, A.N., 2007. Cave geology. Cave Books, Dayton, Ohio.
  • Lecture notes and materials provided by the lecturer.


Oral exam(100 %), where student demonstrates knowledge and understanding of the topics given at lectures.

Lecturer's references

Full Professor of Geography


1. Audra P., Bini A., Gabrovšek F., Häuselmann, Hobléa F., Jeannin-Y., Kunaver J., Monbaron M., Šusteršič F., Tognini, Trimmel H. & Wildberger A. 2007 — Cave and karst evolution in the Alps and their relation to paleoclimate and paleotopography. Acta Carsologica, 36, 1, 53-67.

2. Audra P. 2004 — Kitzsteinhorn high-alpine karst (Salzburg, Austria): Evidence of non-glacial speleogenesis. Die Höhle, 55, 1-4, 12-18.

3. Audra P., Quinif Y. & Rochette P. 2002 — The genesis of the Tennengebirge karst and caves (Salzburg, Austria). Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, 64, 3, 153-164.

4. Audra P. 2000 — Le karst haut alpin du Kanin (Alpes juliennes, Slovénie-Italie). État des connaissances et données récentes sur le fonctionnement actuel et l’évolution plio-quaternaire des structures karstiques. Karstologia, 35, 27-38.

5. Audra P. 1995 — Looking at alpine karst speleogenesis, with examples in France (Vercors, Chartreuse, Ile de Crémieu) and in Austria (Tennengebirge). Cave and Karst Science, 21, 3, 75-80.

University course code: 3KR003

Year of study: 2

Semester: 1

Course principal:

  • prof. dr. Philippe Audra



  • Lectures: 50 hours
  • Exercises: 10 hours
  • Seminar: 30 hours
  • Individual work: 90 hours

Course type: elective

Languages: english

Learning and teaching methods:
• lectures • seminar/individual or group project • exercises and field