Karst surface symbols

Karst surface symbols: the official UIS list

Karst surface symbols, used mainly by geomorphologists, but sometimes also by geologists, contain important information on a map. Until now, however, the surface symbols were only partly standardised, often on a national (or even organisational) scale. This led to a possible misunderstanding of the map or to a difficult reading that needed to consult the legend very often. The utility to standardize the karst surface symbols is therefore given.

The following symbol set had been elaborated on the base of several regional or national lists, most of them coming from Europe. Two of the main contributors are the work of F. JOLY and A. BINI et al., that were completed and partially adapted to the Swiss Geologic conventional signs, and the old UIS entrance symbol set. The aim is:

  • to be a base of information. This means that the present list is not necessarily complete, but should constitute a sound base, upon which the individual countries and/or organisations can build up their own symbol list they need for their specific maps
  • therefore to stimulate discussions amongst karst geomorphologists and geologists
  • to be a generally adopted symbol set that will facititate the reading of geomorphologic maps. There is, however, a problem of scale: a map 1:500’000 cannot represent trittkarren, for instance. The presented symbols are useful in maps between 1:1000 and 1:25’000.

It therefore follows the UIS Cave Symbols which had been elaborated on the same way.
The surface symbol set has been voted in spring 2006 by the UIS national delegates. It was also submitted to the karst commissions of IGU and IAH which consented silently. The list is therefore now official, and the symbols are publicated in Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie.

See the symbols!

Symbols 1
Symbols 2
Symbols 3

The present set had been elaborated by the UISIC Working group Survey and Mapping, in contact with the IGU Karst Commission and other interested persons. Attention has been paid that the presented symbols can be generated or propagated by computer programs, since most of today’s cartography is computer-aided.

NEW: Manuel Freire conocted a symbol set for use with Google Earth! The symbols can be seen and downloaded here.

The address is:

Ph. Haeuselmann
Giebelweg 6
3323 Baeriswil – Switzerland
0041 77 4262390