Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2014, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (6): 1069-1082.doi: 10.1007/s11442-014-1139-6

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A quantitative morphometric comparison of cockpit and doline karst landforms

Fuyuan LIANG1(), Yunyan DU*2(), Yong GE2, Ce LI3   

  1. 1. Department of Geography, Western Illinois University, Macomb IL 61455, USA
    2. State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. The Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, CAS, Beijing 100094, China
  • Received:2014-02-16 Accepted:2014-07-12 Online:2014-06-20 Published:2014-06-20
  • About author:

    Author: Liang Fuyuan, PhD, specialized in geomorphology and GIS research. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    The State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, No.088RA500KA.National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41071250.No.41371378


This study presented a quantitative comparison of cockpit and doline karst by examining the numbers and characteristics of typical types of landform entities that are developed in Guilin (Guangxi, China), La Alianza (PR, USA), Avalton (KY, USA), and Oolitic (IN, USA). Five types of landform entities were defined: isolated hill (IH), clustered hills (CHs), isolated sinkhole (IS), clustered sinkholes (CSs), and clustered hills with sinkholes (CHSs). An algorithm was developed to automatically identify these types of landform entities by examining the contour lines on topographic maps of two cockpit karst areas (Guilin and La Alianza) and two doline karst areas (Oolitic and Avalton). Within each specific study area, the CHSs is the least developed type yet with a larger size and higher relief. The IH and IS entities are smaller in size, lower in relief, and outnumber their clustered counterparts. The total numbers of these types of entities are quite different in cockpit and doline karst areas. Doline karst is characterized by more negative (IS and CSs) than positive (IH and IHs) landforms and vice versa for cockpit karst. For example, the Guilin study area has 1192 positive landform entities in total, which occupy 9.81% of the total study area. It has only 622 negative landform entities occupying only 3.91% of the total study area. By contrast, the doline karst in Oolitic has 130 negative while only 10 positive landform entities. The positive and negative landforms in Oolitic occupy 12.68% and 2.61% of the total study area, respectively. Furthermore, average relief and slope of the landform entities are much higher and steeper in the cockpit karst than the doline karst areas. For instance, the average slope of CHs in Alvaton is 3.90 degrees while it is 19.78 degrees in La Alianza. The average relief of CSs is 4.07 m and 34.29 m in Oolitic and Guilin respectively. Such a difference within a specific area or between the cockpit and doline karst may reveal different controls on the development of karst landscape.

Key words: cockpit, doline, contours, morphometric characteristics, topographic map, karst