Category Archives: conferences

KWI and VDCR Cave Biology Workshop

(in association with the 2023 Convention of the National Speleological Society)

When: Friday, June 23 (7 p.m.) through Sunday, June 25 (5 p.m.), 2023

Where: Front Royal, VA

Cost: $200 USD (lodging included, scholarships available)

Leaders: Wil Orndorff, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; Dr. Julian Lewis and Salisa Lewis, Lewis and Associates Bioconsulting; Dr. Zenah Orndorff, Virginia Tech

Description: The Karst Waters Institute and the Natural Heritage Karst Program of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will be hosting a pre-convention cave biology workshop in Front Royal, Virginia. The Cave Conservancy Foundation is a cosponsor of this event. Participants will receive classroom instruction in cave biology, including an overview of the invertebrate cave fauna commonly encountered in the Central Appalachians, cave ecology, field observation and collection methods, permitting and legal issues, specimen preservation, and molecular techniques. Field exercises will be conducted in local horizontal caves and at other surface karst sites (e.g., springs, sinkholes) to learn how to recognize habitats and try out some of the field collection methods. Under the guidance of the instructors, participants will sort and label specimens from field exercises for distribution to taxonomists, and students will be co-listed as collectors along with permitted instructors.

Lodging at a state park cabin is included in the $200 registration fee. Cabins will be available to participants starting Thursday night, June 22. Scholarships are available to defer a portion of the cost. Please email for more information or to register for the workshop. KWI and VDCR wish to thank the Cave Conservancy Foundation for their generous support of this event.

GSA Topical Session on karst contamination, health, and public policy

KWI is pleased to share upcoming opportunities for abstract submissions for the 2022 Geological Society of America Meeting in Denver, CO:

GSA Topical Session T211. Natural Contamination, Natural Hazards, Health Risk, and Public Policy: Success stories and models for managing, communicating, and updating policy to address health risks of natural contamination and hazards.”

This session is not strictly about groundwater or private wells. It is about naturally occurring contaminants and their public health impacts, including success stories of those who were able to change policies as a result of the challenge. The goal of this session is to come away with practical ideas that attendees can use in their work to protect public health. The session is sponsored by four GSA Divisions, and the organizers hope T72 will attract presenters who can share lessons learned about the application of geology to public policy and public health.

The electronic abstracts submission form opens May 1
Abstract submission deadline July 19 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time.
Denver Meeting Website

Session Description
This session will consider how managing the public health risks from natural hazards and contaminants are addressed differently than manmade contaminants. Available resources, policy, and educating the public are all handled differently. Share your successes.

Session Rationale
Manmade contaminants gain public attention in the press. Federal programs provide insight and oversight to delineate plumes, clean up contaminants, and provide affected residents with clean air, water, and earth. Many geologists are employed by environmental consultants to deal with these contaminants. Yet
according to USGS (DeSimone, 2009), the most common well water contaminants are naturally occurring. In 2013 Wake County, NC implemented a program to notify private well users about risks of man-made contamination, and in the ensuing 6 years tested several hundred wells for the synthetic organic
contaminants associated with such sites. The county’s 2016 review of a decade of well testing found that over 10% of tested wells exceeded the drinking water standard for uranium, while only about 1% exceeded drinking water standards for manmade contaminants. Comparison of the uranium testing data to detailed geologic mapping revealed that 20-30% of the wells in an area covering ½ the county, an area underlain by Pennsylvanian granitic intrusions, were likely to be contaminated with uranium or other radionuclides, a finding in accordance with DeSimone and others, 2009.

The fact that these contaminants are naturally occurring complicates and limits the ability of well users to mitigate their health risks. Wake County is not alone. It is estimated that approximately 15% of the US population obtain their drinking water from private wells (U.S. Census Bureau (USCB), 2009). Taking the USGS and USCB estimates together, approximately ten million people in the US are currently exposed to unsafe levels of naturally occurring contaminants in their drinking water, yet there are no federal programs to provide resources to educate or assist these users of unregulated wells. Well water is not the only pathway of exposure to contamination from naturally occurring contaminants. Session proponents would like to learn from others who have dealt with natural hazards or contaminants and the following: limited resources while managing public health risks; risk relative to public investment in resolving natural vs. manmade contaminants and hazards; models from natural disasters such as flooding and earthquakes; successful policy responses; outreach campaigns; and lessons learned.


2017 Friends of Karst Mini Symposium

2017 Friends of Karst Mini Symposium

Friday, November 10th, 2017 from 1 to 5pm
West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV – Room TBA

Calling out regional cavers, karst scientists, and anyone else who’s interested in all or any matter related to caves and karst: Join us for an afternoon sharing latest research, exploration, and/or conservation projects, with a regional focus. We will have mix of short talks and a poster session. After the symposium, we will head to the Morgantown Brewing Company for drinks and light fare.

For more information and to register for the event, please visit our registration page.  Please RSVP by November 1, 2017 so that we can put together a list of talks and finalize the room details. Logistics and more information are available here.

Please let either of us know if you have any questions. Looking forward to seeing you in November.

Dorothy Vesper
Associate Professor, Geology Program
West Virginia University

Maria Perez
Assistant Professor, Geography Program
West Virginia University

Thanks to our WVU sponsors: The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Geology and Geography, and the Institute of Water Security and Science

KWI is co-sponsor of the Fifteenth Sinkhole Conference & Third Appalachian Karst Symposium

KWI is proud to be a co-sponsor of the 15th Sinkhole Conference and 3rd Appalachian Karst Symposium! As one of the most successful and well-known international meetings on karst science and engineering, the conference will be returning to the Appalachian region in 2018, to be held at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia April 2-6, 2018. Abstracts for presentations and corresponding papers published in the conference proceedings will be accepted through August 31, 2017 (draft papers due Oct. 1). For more information and abstract submittal, please visit

23rd International Conference on Subterranean Biology

KWI is happy to be a cosponsor for the 23rd International Conference on Subterranean Biology, to be held in Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA, from June 13 to June 17, 2016. This will be the first ICSB held in the United States, where the many caves and karst features in the area will be showcased for scientists and students from the U.S. and from around the globe who have an interest in subterranean biology.

For more information, please go to

Abstracts for Poster Presentations – due October 23

There’s still time to submit an abstract for a poster at the KWI/PROTECT Karst, Groundwater Contamination and Public Health meeting!

Did you want to get involved the KWI/PROTECT Karst, Groundwater Contamination and Public Health meeting but weren’t sure how your research fit into the technical program?  If so, then we encourage you to submit an abstract for a poster.  See Abstracts and Snap Talks for information on how to submit your poster abstract.

The poster sessions are intended to encourage interaction and can incorporate subjects that are somewhat tangential, including things like (1) related karst, public health, or outreach studies, (2) a dataset you’d like to present and discuss with others, (3) information about a related organization, and/or (4) details about a potential research site.  This is your opportunity to tell others about what you’ve been doing and to get some feedback.

The abstract deadline for the posters is Oct 23rd.   If you have any questions, please contact us.  We hope you take this opportunity to participate in the conference, learn new perspectives, and possibly meet some new collaborators.

GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore – KWI sponsored sessions

For the GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore in 2015, KWI is sponsoring 5 sessions:

T116. Contamination in Karst: Beyond the Case Study

Sarah K. Carmichael, Ellen K. Herman
Karst Waters Institute; GSA Hydrogeology Division; National Cave and Karst Research Institute; GSA Karst Division

Karst aquifers are an important drinking water source and are particularly vulnerable to contamination. This session will highlight new work on karst contamination modeling and methodologies that take us beyond single case studies.

Karst | Hydrogeology | Environmental Geoscience |

Submit an abstract to this session

T119. Geological Interactions within the Global Carbon Cycle

Chris Groves, Jonathan B. Martin
GSA Karst Division; International Research Center on Karst Under the Auspices of UNESCO; Karst Waters Institute; National Cave and Karst Research Institute; GSA Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division; GSA Mineralogy, Geochemistry, Petrology, and Volcanology Division

While over vast timescales interactions between water, the atmosphere, and minerals influence partitioning of Earth’s carbon, less attention has been focused on shorter timescales. This session emphasizes links between carbonate minerals and Earth’s carbon cycle.

Karst | Geochemistry | Environmental Geoscience |

Submit an abstract to this session

T120. Karst Processes and Speleogenesis: Advances in Monitoring, Modeling, and Measurements

Benjamin F. Schwartz, Matthew D. Covington
GSA Hydrogeology Division; GSA Karst Division; Karst Waters Institute; National Cave and Karst Research Institute; GSA Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division

This session seeks to highlight recent advances in the study of karst systems, with emphasis on process studies, method development, modeling advances, instrumentation innovations, long-term monitoring, and more.

Karst | Hydrogeology | Geomorphology |

Submit an abstract to this session

T121. New Perspectives in Karst Geomicrobiology and Redox Geochemistry: Advances from 20 Years of Interdisciplinary Research and Exploring Our Future Frontiers

Annette Summers Engel, John R. Spear, Sarah K. Carmichael, Hazel A. Barton, Philip C. Bennett
GSA Karst Division; GSA Geobiology & Geomicrobiology Division; Karst Waters Institute; National Cave and Karst Research Institute; Geochemical Society

In the 20 years since the Karst Waters Institute–sponsored symposium, “Breakthroughs in Karst Geomicrobiology and Redox Geochemistry,” we welcome contributions that highlight major achievements and latest advances in karst research. Interdisciplinary participation is encouraged.

Karst | Geomicrobiology | Geochemistry |

Submit an abstract to this session

T122. Remote Sensing and Geophysical Imaging in Karst

Lewis Land, Daniel H. Doctor
GSA Karst Division; GSA Environmental and Engineering Geology Division; GSA Geophysics Division; GSA Hydrogeology Division; National Cave and Karst Research Institute; Karst Waters Institute; GSA Geoinformatics Division

Geophysics and remote sensing tools are frequently used for investigations of karst phenomena. We welcome papers that address the use of remote sensing and geophysical imaging in karst regions, including both airborne and ground-based methods.

Karst | Geophysics/Geodynamics |

Submit an abstract to this session