Graduate School

Use and protection of karst caves

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

Objectives and competences

The goal of rationally planning the use and protection of karst caves depends on knowledge of karst caves and the karst in general. This course first summarizes and reinforces knowledge of cave characteristics, the types of caves, their morphological, hydrological, geological, and microclimate characteristic, their contents (alluvia, flowstone), their location in the aquifer, and their development and presents a history of the use and protection of caves. This knowledge student uses in planning the use of caves for scientific research directed toward acquiring basic knowledge of the karst and its development (cave laboratories, regular measurement of the properties and quality of water, microclimate indicators), the use of caves in the exploitation of karst aquifers for drinking water supplies, the use of caves for education (education trails), and the use of caves for tourism. The knowledge is also applied to the protection of caves as an important part of our natural heritage and to legislation related to planning interventions in karst areas (roads, larger earthworks, quarries) and to opening caves for tourism.



Content (Syllabus outline)

Introductory presentations

Karst caves and aquifers

  • Caves as an important part of the natural heritage
  • Use of karst caves
  • Protection of karst caves

Identification of the characteristics and special features of karst caves

Use of karst caves

  • History of the use of caves
  • Scientific research
  • Educational use
  • In water supply systems
  • Tourism

Protection of karst caves

  • Methods of tracking changes due to human influences (measurement of various indicators, hydrology, microclimate)
  • Legal protection of karst caves
  • Protection of caves during various interventions
  • Protection of caves opened for tourism

Intended learning outcomes

Student basic knowledge about karst caves, their shape, content, processes and factors of their shaping and development connect with knowledge about human impact and tourist visit. Student upgrade cognitions in ability of autonomous and reasonable planning and use of karst caves.


  • Culver, D. C., B. Debevc, M. Knez, G. Kovačič, A. Kranjc, J. Mulec, T. Pipan, M. Prelovšek, N. Ravbar, A. Semeja, T. Slabe, S. Šebela, N. Zupan Hajna (2012): Krasoslovje v razvojnih izzivih na krasu 2, gradnja, turizem, ekologija, varovanje; Karstology and Development Challenges on Karst 2, construction, tourism, ecology, protection.- Založba ZRC, p. 199.
  • Educating for Sustainable Tourism, Proceedings of the International Conference held in Slovenia, September 17-24, 1992, 1992.
  • Gams, I., 2004: Kras v Sloveniji.- Založba ZRC, p.515, Ljubljana.
  • Geotechnical and Environmental Applications of karst Geology and Hydrology. Proceedings of the Eight Multidisciplinary Conference on Sinkholes and the Engineering and Environmental Impacts of Karsts, Louisville/Kentucky/1-4 April 2001, Balkema, 2001.
  • Gillieson, D., 1996: Caves: processes, development and management.- Blackwell Publishers, Oxford & Cambridge.
  • Grimes, K.G. & Hamilton-Smith, E. & Spate, A.P: Southeast Karst province of South Australia, Australian Caves & Karst Management Association, 1995.
  • International Symposium on the Exploitation and Protection of Karst and Cave Scenic Tourist resources, Aug. 22-26 1994, 1994.
  • Knez, M. & T. Slabe, 2002: Karstology and the Opening of the Caves during Motorway Construction in the Karst Region of Slovenia.- Implication of Speleological Studies for Karst Subcidence Hazard Assessment, International Journal of Speleology 31, 159-169.
  • Monitoring of Karst caves, 2002: Acta carsologica 31, Ljubljana.
  • Prelovšek, M., N. Zupan Hajna (eds.), 2011: Pressures and Protection of the Underground Karst.- Karst Research Institute ZRC SAZU, p. 194.
  • Use of Modern Technologies in the Development of caves for Tourism, 2002.- 4th International ISCA Congress, Postojna, 21st 27th October 2002, Postojna.
  • Selected articles from relevant Slovene and foreign professional journals.


To sit the examination, students must actively participate in the seminars and complete a short seminar assignment. 50/50

Lecturer's references

Full Professor of Karstology.


University course code: 3KR032

Year of study: 1

Semester: 2

Course principal:




  • Lectures: 50 hours
  • Exercises: 5 hours
  • Seminar: 30 hours
  • Field exercises: 5 hours
  • Individual work: 90 hours

Course type: elective

Languages: slovene, english

Learning and teaching methods:
• lectures • field lectures and research • project work • presentation and interpreation