Karst topography develops in areas underlain by soluble carbonate rocks like limestone. In some areas, the rock is mostly dissolved in the subsurface, forming caves and sinkholes, common in Indiana and Kentucky and Florida and many other places around the world.
|Karst topography in China|
The name karst comes from the Karst Plateau in the Dinaric Alps of Slovenia, whose name comes from a German word of probable Slavic origin meaning “a bleak, waterless place.” That’s something of an ironic name since it was an abundance of water that caused the topography. But in many karst areas, much of the water flows underground because of the subterranean caves and even rivers. Lost River, in southern Indiana, is lost because it flows on the surface for a distance, but then plunges underground for several miles. Because of the subterranean drainage, the surface may have few or no lakes as well, so karst plains can indeed seem waterless.
—Richard I. Gibson
Photo of karst topography in China by chensiyuan via Wikipedia, under Creative Commons license.