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Karst features pervade the outcrop belts of Triassic, Ordovician, and Cambrian rocks in the Frederick Valley region of Maryland's western Piedmont. Detailed stratigraphic analysis and geologic and karst mapping demonstrate that individual stratigraphic units have differing susceptibilities of karst feature creation. Although the Triassic Leesburg Member of the Bull Run Formation and Rocky Springs Station Member of the Cambrian Frederick Formation have many surface depressions within their outcrop belts, the Lime Kiln Member of the Frederick Formation and the Ceresville, Fountain Rock, and Woodsboro members of the Ordovician Grove Formation have the greatest potential for development of catastrophic collapse sinkholes. Although these four members have the highest relative susceptibility, human activity can increase the potential for sinkhole activation in all units. Rerouting of surface drainage patterns, unlined drainage, and storm-water management areas and removal of significant overburden deposits significantly increase sinkhole development, but mainly, these units are inherently more susceptible to begin with.
David K. Brezinski is the Appalachian stratigrapher and paleontologist for the Maryland Geological Survey. His main research interests are carbonate geology and stratigraphy and trilobite systematics. Throughout his 20-year career with the Maryland Geological Survey, he has published more than 100 articles, maps, and abstracts on stratigraphy and paleontology.