Gypsum is one of the most soluble of common rocks; it is dissolved readily to form caves, sinkholes, disappearing streams, and other karst features that typically are found in limestones and dolomites. The four basic requirements for gypsum karst to develop are: (1) a deposit of gypsum; (2) water, unsaturated with CaSO4 (3) an outlet for escape of dissolving water; and (4) energy to cause water to flow through the system. Gypsum deposits are present in 32 of the 48 conterminous United States, and they underlie about 35-40% of the land area; they are reported in rocks of every geologic system from the Precambrian through the Quaternary. Gypsum karst is known at least locally (and sometimes quite extensively) in almost all areas underlain by gypsum, and commonly extends down to depths of at least 30 m below the land surface. The most widespread and pronounced examples of gypsum karst are in the Permian basin of southwestern United States, but many other areas also are significant. Human activities may also cause, or accelerate, development of gypsum karst.
Johnson, Kenneth S..
Gypsum karst in the United States.
International Journal of Speleology,
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/ijs/vol25/iss3/13