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Statistical pattern analysis of surficial karst in the Pleistocene Miami oolite of South Florida
- Harris, Paul (Mitch), Purkis, Sam, Reyes, Bella
- Sedimentary geology 2018 v.367 pp. 84-95
- caves, karsts, landscapes, lidar, models, topography, urbanization, water table, Florida
- A robust airborne light detection and ranging digital terrain model (LiDAR DTM) and select outcrops are used to examine the extent and characteristics of the surficial karst overprint of the late Pleistocene Miami oolite in South Florida. Subaerial exposure of the Miami oolite barrier bar and shoals to a meteoric diagenetic environment, lasting ca. 120 kyr from the end of the last interglacial highstand MIS 5e until today, has resulted in diagenetic alteration including surface and shallow subsurface dissolution producing extensive dolines and a few small stratiform caves.Analysis of the LiDAR DTM suggests that >50% of the dolines in the Miami oolite have been obscured/lost to urbanization, though a large number of depressions remain apparent and can be examined for trends and spatial patterns. The verified dolines are analyzed for their size and depth, their lateral distribution and relation to depositional topography, and the separation distance between them. Statistical pattern analysis shows that the average separation distance and average density of dolines on the strike-oriented barrier bar versus dip-oriented shoals is statistically inseparable. Doline distribution on the barrier bar is clustered because of the control exerted on dissolution by the depositional topography of the shoal system, whereas patterning of dolines in the more platform-ward lower-relief shoals is statistically indistinguishable from random. The areal extent and depth of dissolution of the dolines are well described by simple mathematical functions, and the depth of the dolines increases as a function of their size. The separation and density results from the Miami oolite are compared to results from other carbonate terrains. Near-surface, stratiform caves in the Miami oolite occur in sites where the largest and deepest dolines are present, and sit at, or near, the top of the present water table.