News of Protected Areas


The underground world of karst: the Dinarides

There are about a hundred caves and pits along the Krka River course, 67 of which are located in the area of Krka National Park

After the initial relief and the fundamental phenomenon of tufa, the Public Institute of Krka National Park presents the richness and diversity of underground in a new cycle of texts. From week to week, learn all about intertwining of caves and pits and the living world that was created under the cover of darkness and water. But even here you have to start from the beginning, from the karst.

The Dinaric karst is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe and the world. It encompasses the area of the Dinarides, a mountain chain named after Mt. Dinara, situated on the border between the Dalmatian part of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most of the Dinaric karst, which includes all karst features (both on the surface and underground) is found within Croatian borders. Due to the unique natural features, geological characteristics, cave fauna and impressive natural beauty, the Dinaric karst certainly belongs to the global natural heritage.

The word karst comes from the Indo-European root kar, meaning rock or rocky area. In Croatia, the word karst was first recorded in 1230 in the Charter of Juraj Pariježić who received the gift of "kras", a locality near the settlement of Dobrinj on the Island of Krk. The concept of karst has been accepted at the global level, and numerous names of karst phenomena from the Dinarides area have been accepted into the international terminology in their original form (uvala, kamenica, ponor, dolina, hum and polje).

In general, karst is a specific form of relief that develops on a substrate made of soluble rock. It is characterised by special morphological, hydrological and hydrogeological properties. The karst formation processes are jointly called karstification, and the dominant process is rock corrosion. Karstification is a constant process, and under its influence, the relief is constantly being shaped and altered. The Dinaric karst is currently in the phase of developed and mature karst with a strongly karstified underground, numerous depressions, dolines, poljes and a strongly interconnected underground hydrographic network.

It has been estimated that almost 50% of Croatia is covered by karst. In the Croatian sections of the Dinaric karst, the most intensive periods of karstification were recorded during the Cretaceous era, and from the Eocene to the Palaeocene. The large surface area and thickness of karst has resulted in this wealth of relief forms (both on the surface and underground), along with numerous other phenomena in the Croatian karst.

More information on the Dinaric karst can be found at Krka NP webpage.