The Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have karst areas developed in both carbonate and gypsiferous rocks. In the north, within the Republic of Estonia, Ordovician and Silurian limestones and dolomites crop out, or are covered by glacial Quaternary sediments. To the south, in Latvia and Lithuania, gypsum karst is actively developing in evaporites of Late Devonian (Frasnian) age. Although gypsum and mixed sulphate-carbonate karst only occupy small areas in the Baltic countries, they have important engineering and geo-ecological consequences. Due to the rapid dissolution of gypsum, the evolution of gypsum karst causes not only geological hazards such as subsidence, but it also has a highly adverse effect on groundwater quality. The karst territory of the Baltic states lies along the western side of the area, called the Great Devonian Field that form part of the Russian Plain. Within southern Latvia and northern Lithuania there is an area, exceeding 1000 sq. km, where mature gypsum karst occurs at the land surface and in the subsurface. This karst area is referred to here as the Gypsum Karst Region of the Baltic States. Here the surface karst forms include sinkholes, karst shafts, land subsidence, lakes and dolines. In Lithuania the maximum density of sinkholes is 200 per sq. km; in Latvia they reach 138 units per sq. km. Caves, enlarged dissolution voids and cavities are uncommon in both areas.
Paukstys, Bernardas and Vytautas Narbutas.
Gypsum karst of the Baltic Republics.
International Journal of Speleology,
Available at: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/ijs/vol25/iss3/21