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Karst water studies in the Malham area, north of the Craven faults

Ternan, James Leslie


James Leslie Ternan


Alistair F. Pitty


'Science invites her admirers here, presenting one a knot of questions to solve respecting these rifted rocks, and those huge fragments of stone, that lie arranged in such orderly array ...'

These words written of the Malham area in 1847 by A. McFarlane seem particularly appropriate to commence a work which attempts to look at a few of the questions regarding 'those rifted rocks'. The study of karst processes is yet in its youthful stages and it is hoped that the research presented in this thesis will advance to some degree knowledge of that part of England which 'presents us with creation in its boldest outlines' (McFarlane, 1847), in addition to furthering an understanding of the wider problems of the evolution of limestone terrains.

In contrast to much speculative and theoretical reasoning that typifies some recent writings in limestone studies this work is based primarily, on systematic observations carried out on karst waters in the natural environment. There were six interrelated reasons for collecting this information:

(i) To investigate in detail the role of antecedent hydro-meteorological factors, particularly effective precipitation and air temperatures,in initiating;
(a) temporal variations in solutional losses at the sampling sites,
(b) variations in the temperature of water recorded at these sites,
(c) the pattern of discharge fluctuations recorded at the selectedsites.

(ii) In view of the recent separation of karst water into 'allogenic karst water' and 'karst spring water', or into percolation-fed springs and systems of the sink-resurgence type, it was considered important to discover how contrasts in the mode of recharge to the limestone could affect the recorded pattern of solute concentrations at the risings and the pattern of water-temperature variation recorded at the risings.

(iii) Thirdly in view of the fact that recent work has pointed to the role of both lithological factors (Sweeting and Sweettng, 1969) and hydrological influences (Pitty, 1968,1971) in affecting mean solute concentrations in karst waters, regional variations in the mean solute concentrations and in the variability of solute concentrations are examined.

(iv) Fourthly to discover those factors instrumental in causing regional variations in the mean temperature of water discharging at karst risings in the field area, and in causing regional variations in the level of fluctuation of water temperature at karst risings.

(v) To investigate seasonal and regional differences in the time taken for circulating water to pass through the limestone systems (flowthrough times).

(vi) Lastly to accumulate evidence concerning the nature of water disposition and ground-water flow in the limestones of the field area.

This research was carried out in the Fountains Fell and High Mark upland areas of the central Pennines. These two areas provide a contrasting geological framework for this work, one area (Fountains Fell) being of limestone partially covered by Yoredale and Millstone Grit series, and the other (High Mark) consisting almost completely of Great Scar Limestone. Geological differences have given rise to the hydrological contrasts between the two areas with which some of this research is concerned.

In addition this is an area of the Pennines in which comparatively little work has previously been carried out, earlier interests having been mainly centred on the Ingleborough area to the west, the locality of Malham and Malham Tarn, or in the southern Pennines.

On account of the fundamental significance of geological, hydrological, biological and climatic factors to the operation of karst processes, a full description of these aspects of the field area is included in this work.


Ternan, J. L. (1971). Karst water studies in the Malham area, north of the Craven faults. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 19, 2013
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Geography
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Geography, The University of Hull
Award Date Dec 1, 1971


Thesis (19.5 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 1971 Ternan, James Leslie. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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