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1.
Morphogenesis of the Postojna Basin karst periphery : dissertation
Astrid Švara, 2023, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: This thesis represents a karstological study on the drainage of the Postojna Basin. It focuses on a multidisciplinary approach, based on fieldwork, computer analyses and dating. The northern study area has the highest: doline density of 108 dolines/km2, number of contact karst features (i.e. 9), and number of collapse dolines (i.e. 19). It has three catchments. The Lokva cuts into the flysch ridges and sinks in the Predjama Cave System at the lowest point of the basin (i.e. 474 m a.s.l.). Between 37 selected caves, 14 were longer than 150 m. The Predjama Cave System was developed in 3 levels and the Postojna Cave System was developed in 2 levels. The vertical passages connecting them are deepest in the Predjama cave, where the vadose zone is up to 250 m deep. By the favourable ponor steepheads and 140 m deep vadose passages, the Hrušica Plateau shows a major uplift phase. The Postojna Cave System, Risovec blind valley and 17 collapse dolines indicate significant past hydrological changes. First, Nanoščica formed the Risovec blind valley, followed by Otoška jama, Tartarus, Male jame, and Artificial tunnel toward E/NE, forming the Vodni dol. At the same time, the ponor of Pivka shifted in the Postojnska jama (at present “Stara jama”), flowing towards N, forming Jeršanove doline. The successive subsidence of the erosional base and the Postojna karst uplift redirected the Nanoščica in Pivka. Now they sink into active parts of the Postojna cave at 511 m a.s.l. The eastern study area has the Unroofed cave Kriva dolina as a former ponor of Pivka. At present the area has springs and favourable (sub)vertical passages. The southern study area has the highest variety of contact karst features (i.e. 5). The Prestranški ravnik represents an aquifer with ponors and springs. It is separated from the Slavinski ravnik, by a flysch belt. In the southern study area, 10 caves were longer than 150 m among 49 selected caves. The Loza Cave System, a case study in Slavinski ravnik, is developed in 3 epiphreatic levels that followed two phases of tectonic uplift with a successive formation of diversion routes through 30-40 m deep vadose passages. The oldest upper cave level has sediments from at least the Gilbert Chron with CW rotations. U-Th dates from speleothems prove vadose speleogenesis before the cave ceiling denudation and collapse from 210 ka to 550 ka (≤1.2 Ma). The middle cave level has epiphreatic sediments at least in the Gauss Chron (i.e. 2.59-3.59 Ma) and reveals 35-38° CCW rotations. The allogenic sediments in the lower cave level show Brunhes and Matuyama Chrons (i.e. <0.78-2.58 Ma). We generally discussed ponor steepheads that develop on steepest slopes on the thrust/fault contact, while blind valleys and border depressions develop on normal stratigraphic contact with mildest slopes. The speleogenesis was mainly driven by relatively quick tectonic uplift, followed by vadose speleogenesis, with intermediate speleogenesis in the epiphreatic zone. Speleogenesis and contact karst features follow the subsidence of the water table, evidenced by cave levels, and active and relict features. Allogenic sediments are followed by speleothems as shift of caves between hydrological zones. The sequence of events repeated 2-3 times. The main local source of allogenic sediments is in the Postojna Basin, represented by the erosion of flysch rocks and alluvium. The mineralogical composition between catchments is similar with no significant change. The regional compressional-tectonic regime has significantly influenced the changes in the drainage of the Postojna Basin during the last 7 Ma, with different uplifts and drop of the karst water table. The major uplift was reflected by the change in the Nanoščica course from the Slavinski ravnik to the Postojna karst from S to N, presumably between 3.59 Ma and >1.77 Ma and represented the last important general shift in the drainage of the Postojna Basin.
Keywords: karst, contact karst, regional tectonic uplift, cave levels, shift from epiphreatic to vadose speleogenesis, Loza Cave System, Postojna drainage basin
Published in RUNG: 05.12.2023; Views: 775; Downloads: 53
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2.
Time-series analysis of oxygen as an important environmental parameter for monitoring diversity hotspot ecosystems : an example of a river sinking into the karst underground
Saptashwa Bhattacharyya, Janez Mulec, Andreea Oarga-Mulec, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: Predicting variations in dissolved oxygen concentration (DO) is important for management and environmental monitoring of aquatic ecosystems. Regression analyses and univariate and multivariate time-series analyses based on autoregressive methods were performed to investigate oxygen conditions in the Pivka River, Slovenia. The monitoring site was established upstream where the river sinks into the karst cave Postojnska jama, which hosts one of the richest subterranean faunas yet studied worldwide. It was found that abnormal variations of DO started to be noticeable at values of DO < 3 mg/L and became more pronounced until the ecosystem reached fully anoxic conditions. The abnormal fluctuations during the critical summer period were due to environmental conditions, organic load and resident biota. Predictions for future detection of anomalies in DO values were made from stable residuals of the measured data, and it was demonstrated that the model could be used to obtain a reliable estimate for a short period, such as one day. The example presented an analysis pipeline based on specific and established threshold DO values, and it is particularly important for ecosystems with diversity hotspots where prolonged low DO values can pose a threat to their biota.
Keywords: karst (geology), aquatic ecosystems, dissolved oxygen, modelling, prediction
Published in RUNG: 05.09.2023; Views: 900; Downloads: 5
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3.
Characterization of a karst aquifer in the recharge area of Malenščica and Unica springs based on spatial and temporal variations of natural tracers
Blaž Kogovšek, 2022, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: The aim of the present study is to characterize and improve the still insufficient knowledge of the recharge processes that have an important influence on the flow and solute transport in karst aquifers and thus also on the quantity and quality of karst water sources. A binary karst aquifer in the recharge area of the Malenščica and Unica springs, which covers an area of about 820 km2 in SW Slovenia, was selected as the study area. A dense monitoring network was established at 20 observation points (six springs, four ponors, seven water-active caves and three surface streams) for simultaneous monitoring of the hydrological characteristics and the physicochemical properties of the water, the so-called natural tracers. Data-loggers were installed to measure water pressure, temperature and conductivity. During selected storm events, samples were taken for chemical and microbiological analyses and discharge measurements were made. The meteorological and hydrological data of the Slovenian Environment Agency complemented the extensive dataset. Collected data allowed the analysis and comparison of the spatial and temporal variations of the natural tracers under different hydrological conditions. Frequent discharge measurements allowed the generation of rating curves and proved to be a crucial element for understanding the hydraulic processes that determine the functioning of this system. The calculation of the water budget allowed an assessment of the proportion of autogenic and allogenic recharge of the springs and a quantitative estimate of autogenic recharge under different hydrological conditions. The hydrological analysis, i.e. the flow duration curve, the hydrograph separation techniques and the recession analysis, revealed that the Malenščica spring has a higher storage capacity, a greater proportion of autogenic recharge, especially at low-flow, and a slower recession than the Unica spring. This was also confirmed by correlation and spectral analyses, which were also used to investigate the relationships between discharges at ponors and springs. However, the results of the cross-correlation analysis showed hardly any difference between the two springs and in this case proved to be unsuitable for studying the influence of allogenic recharge. Instead, partial cross-correlation analysis was used to control the input parameters of effective precipitation and discharge of one of the sinking streams to determine the contribution of the other sinking stream to the observed spring. The results confirmed differences in allogenic recharge of the Unica and Malenščica springs. Hysteresis analysis has been applied as a complementary method to time series analysis and represents an improved approach to the characterization of the karst hydrological system. The hydraulic approach to the construction of hysteresis enabled a detailed analysis of allogenic and autogenic water interaction and its influence on the Malenščica and Unica springs under different hydrological conditions. Narrow shapes of the hysteresis indicate a direct hydraulic connection between the ponor and the spring and thus a well-developed drainage system. Any deviation towards a convex or concave shape indicates a less developed, more matrix-related drainage system or the influence of other recharge sources. Analysis of physicochemical hysteretic function of individual locations confirmed the differences in the recharge characteristics of the two springs. Compared to the Unica spring, the Malenščica spring has specific recharge characteristics that result in lower vulnerability to the effects of the sinking streams. A greater proportion of autogenic recharge in the initial phase of the storm event is important, as it allows for a time delay of the possible negative effects of the sinking stream. However, possible pollution from the area of autogenic recharge can have strong negative effects, as in this initial phase with low discharges the dilution effect is negligible.
Keywords: karst aquifer, dynamics of natural tracers, storm events, discharge measurements, time series analysis, hysteresis, Unica spring, Malenščica spring
Published in RUNG: 01.03.2022; Views: 2312; Downloads: 96
.pdf Full text (18,38 MB)

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Geotourism in Arcos-Pains Karst Region, Minas Gerais, Brazil : dissertation
Mariana Barbosa Timo, 2021, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: Knowing the geological evolution of Earth surface allows identifying various natural attractions (biotic and abiotic). It makes possible the use of the most differentiated resources for the practice of tourism. The Arcos-Pains Karst Region has excellent potential for geotourism use. Examples of geosites include the Santuario and Brega Caves, the Dry Valley in the Corumbá region, and the Mastodonte Cave, where fossils of the Haplomastodon waringi mastodon species were found. However, public investment policies aiming at the environmental preservation of this heritage are still minimal or absent. The region also suffers tremendous anthropic pressure due to the extraction and processing of limestone, agribusiness, urban expansion and informal tourism. The process of inventorying and quantifying geosites is an essential tool for defining geoconservation strategies since it is not possible to protect all the geodiversity of the planet. The attributes analysed should integrate several criteria that take into account the intrinsic characteristics of each geosite, its potential use and the level of protection required. Regarding this research, the objective is approaching karst and speleological heritage, intending to define geosites for scientific, educational and tourist use at the Arcos-Pains Karst Region. The purpose of the inventory is to develop a geotourism project that provides essential information for better territorial management. It is also intended to assist environmental agencies in the enterprises’ environmental licensing processes installed in the region. Among the thirty-five (35) sites evaluated, eleven (11) presented above-average use-values in all categories analysed. Also, they presented national relevance and were classified as geosites. In addition to these, another sixteen (16) sites scored sufficiently to be categorised with national relevance. Within the geosites, one (1) was of international relevance: the São Francisco River Canyon. Considering the results, it is essential to deepen the research regarding karst dynamics to equalise geodiversity preservation while allowing its use to benefit society.
Keywords: Geodiversity, Geotourism, Geosites, Arcos-Pains Karst Region, Karst, Speleology
Published in RUNG: 22.10.2021; Views: 2590; Downloads: 166
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7.
Managing karst in Coastal British Columbia, Canada : systems and implementation results
Paul Andre Griffiths, 2020, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: This thesis provides a detailed description and analysis of the system used for managing karst in the forests of coastal British Columbia (BC), where the major land- use activity is industrial forestry. In 2004, BC shifted from a more prescriptive forest management model (the Forest Practices Code) to a less regulated, results-based approach based primarily on the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). The dissertation examines how this results-based management approach for forest resources has worked – or not worked – with respect to karst. The research focused on the five key realms of an environmental management system as defined by the International Standards Organization (ISO 14001 standard): 1) Legislation and Policy, 2) Planning, 3) Implementation, 4) Checking/Corrective Action, and 5) Management Review. The research also examined the roles of professional reliance (another major foundational element of the FRPA model), karst research, and organizational capacity as external factors which influence on the functioning of the karst management system. A combination of interviews, surveys, document reviews and field observations were used to collect qualitative information relevant to all aspects of the karst management system. This research reveals inadequacies in all five realms of BC’s current karst management framework, including gaps in legislation, a lack of implementation of existing standards and guidelines, and non-existent effectiveness and compliance monitoring. The results suggest that BC’s shift to ‘self-regulation’ has yielded unsatisfactory results so far for karst resources and has hindered progress toward implementing a fully integrated science-based ecosystem approach to karst management in the study area. Professional reliance failures are identified as one of the key factors contributing to a breakdown of the management system for karst. This is the first comprehensive study that examines the systems and processes used for managing karst in coastal BC, and consolidates knowledge for government, industry, and others that wish to study or better understand BC’s approach and methods for managing karst. The findings will be useful for private and public forest sector organizations endeavoring to implement fully-functional and effective systems for managing karst in a forestry context. This information may also have more specific applications for managing karst.
Keywords: karst ecosystems, protection and management, legislation, policies, standards and guidelines, environmental degradation, forestry impacts, professional reliance, British Columbia, Canada
Published in RUNG: 02.03.2020; Views: 3652; Downloads: 62
.pdf Full text (136,27 MB)

8.
HOLISTIC GEOMORPHOLOGICAL SPATIAL ANALYSIS OF KARST ON KRK ISLAND
Ela Šegina, 2019, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: The intriguing spatial variability of surface features on Krk Island has stimulated the research of this karst area located in the coastal zone of the Dinaric karst in Croatia. Field inspection, ortho-rectified aerial photos (0.5m resolution) and a topographic map (1:5,000) were used for the detection and delineation of detectable karst surface features appearing on the island with the area of 405.5 km². This method resulted in the identification of several yet undefined types of surface features occurring on karst, requiring the revision of the existing classification and re-establishment of a new classification system compatible with the particular field reality. Several morphologic and distributive parameters that had been calculated for each re-classified type of surface feature provided insight into the surface features elementary characteristics, their spatial variability and the correlation to the other types of surface features and to the recent karst relief. This analysis based on a large, accurate dataset, contributed to the general knowledge on karstic surface features, the conditions of surface features in Dinaric karst and to the understanding of the karst surface evolution on Krk Island.
Keywords: karst geomorphology, GIS, spatial analysis, Krk Island, Dinaric karst, Adriatic Sea
Published in RUNG: 13.09.2019; Views: 4833; Downloads: 219
.pdf Full text (17,12 MB)

9.
Regional biodiversity and seasonal dynamics of the bacterial communities in karstic springs of Slovenia
Maja Opalički Slabe, 2019, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: Information on groundwater’s natural bacterial communities is important for evaluating pristine groundwater’s quality, as environmental changes potentially lead to alterations in bacterial community structures. In four seasons, 15 hypothetically pristine springs across five karst eco-regions in Slovenia (Central Europe) were analysed during their low discharge, and their basic physical and chemical parameters were recorded. The diversity of bacterial community structures was assessed with a terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism fingerprinting method. Total cell counts as bacterial abundance and electron transport system activity as bacterial respiratory activity were used for quantitative evaluation of bacterial communities. To detect anthropogenic pollution, spring water was tested by the cultivation of coliform bacteria and Escherichia coli (E. coli). Results indicate distinct regional differences in environmental parameters, bacterial respiratory activity, presence of coliforms and E. coli, bacterial abundances, and qualitative bacterial community structures, but there were no regional differences in the numbers of operational taxonomic units and biodiversity indices (Shannon-Wiener’s and Simpson’s diversity index, Buzas and Gibson’s evenness). The analysis of seasonal environmental parameters showed significant differences in dissolved organic carbon and pH, and also significant changes in bacterial respiratory activity and abundances, as well as differences in bacterial community structures, the numbers of operational taxonomic units, and biodiversity indices. No seasonal variations were shown for coliforms and E. coli. Despite seasonal oscillations, regional differences prevailed among five karst eco-regions and indicate a significant influence on the qualitative and quantitative aspects of groundwater bacterial community structures. The study confirmed both regional and seasonal differences in groundwater bacterial community structures, which should be included in further sustainable management plans of the aquifers.
Keywords: karst springs, bacterial community structure (BCS), terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP), total cell counts (TCC), electron transport system activity (ETSA)
Published in RUNG: 26.06.2019; Views: 3924; Downloads: 187
.pdf Full text (3,76 MB)

10.
Evaluation of policy and technical factors for the protection of karst aquifers
Katarina Kosič Ficco, 2019, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: Karst aquifer protection remains inchoate. National and international legally-binding mechanisms rarely consider implementation of karst-specific measures for their evaluation and protection. Although developing suitable protection measures for karst aquifers is challenging because their variable character hampers implementation of generalized methods, it is not impossible. As presented in this dissertation, consideration of scientific aspects and inclusion of karst-specific evaluation methods is of great importance. However, the additional inclusion of socio-political aspects is also crucial for advances in karst aquifer protection. Analyses of current European Union and United States of America policies performed in this study have shown that they can provide valuable input regarding the topic. It is also clear that accounting for the interests of affected entities, such as policy-makers, stakeholders and the public, is critical. Satisfying their needs, and assuring their understanding of karst aquifers, can ease and improve implementations of adopted measures. By recognizing these aspects, an interdisciplinary framework for karst aquifer protection was developed, and is presented in this study. The so-called K-framework, developed as a checklist, assures implementation of necessary steps for comprehensive karst aquifer evaluation and management. It further defines how each entity can contribute to the process by providing their knowledge, and allocates responsibilities of each sphere. An important attribute of the proposed framework is that it can be used on varying karst terrains and for various impacts that might threaten karst aquifers. Additionally, it is cost- and time-efficient, while still considering important aspects of karst and insuring the inclusion of important affected parties.
Keywords: aquifer, groundwater, karst, protection, environmental legislation, confined animal feeding operation, vulnerability mapping
Published in RUNG: 17.06.2019; Views: 3900; Downloads: 145
.pdf Full text (11,63 MB)

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