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Deep flooded karst of south-eastern France – Genesis and hydrodynamic functioning

Abstract : The karstic massifs located along the Rhône Valley and the Mediterranean coast in the south-east France have a joint history linked to the Messinian Salinity Crisis. The drying up of the Mediterranean during the Messinian period and its re-flooding during the Pliocene caused an extraordinary oscillation of the base level. During this event, a large number of karsts were deepened, controlled by the drop of the base level, and then flooded when the Mediterranean level rose. This paper presents the consequences of large variations of the base level on the speleogenesis and hydrodynamics of the karst, using three emblematic examples. The Ardèche karst on the immediate edge of the Messinian canyon of the Rhône River, where the karst networks have been tiered from bottom to top and can be interconnected by ascending lifts: the "chimney-shaft". The Monts-de-Vaucluse karst on the left bank of the Rhône valley, drained by a major outlet, the Fontaine-de-Vaucluse spring, which karst network develops to more than 300 m below the base level. The coastal karst of Port-Miou, nowadays drained by a brackish coastal submarine spring, outlet of a deep groundwater flow below sea level (explored at more than 230 m deep) allowing a deep saline intrusion. All these deep karst networks have remained active since their formation and constitute a strategic water resource in a region threatened in the medium term by increasingly significant water deficits linked to climate change.
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Contributor : Bruno Arfib Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 2, 2022 - 7:50:00 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, November 5, 2022 - 3:17:52 AM


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Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


  • HAL Id : hal-03779651, version 2


Bruno Arfib, Ludovic Mocochain. Deep flooded karst of south-eastern France – Genesis and hydrodynamic functioning. KARSTOLOGIA, 2022, Karsts and karstology in France in the 21st century, 79, pp.35-44. ⟨hal-03779651v2⟩



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