Karst Geomorphology


Unless otherwise noted or titled, all courses are based out of Hamilton Valley Field Station, located on the border of Mammoth Cave National Park near Bowling Green, Kentucky. Please see the logistics tab for more information about preparing for your course and stay at Hamilton Valley Field Station.

We apologize for any inconvenience, but due to COVID-19 pandemic orders issued by Western Kentucky University and Governor Beshear of Kentucky, we are unable to offer any courses in June 2020. The safety of our instructors and course participants is of utmost importance to us. We hope we can soon return to a world free of COVID-19 concerns, but until then, we feel this is the best decision in the interest of everyone.

June 20-26, 2020

Karst Geomorphology Field and Numerical Techniques is a hands-on course intended to prepare attendees to interpret and communicate information about cave and karst systems. Attendees will gain skills and knowledge in the areas of field observation and measurement, as well as numerical modeling techniques that can be used to describe and investigate geomorphic settings and processes. Hamilton Valley Research Station near Mammoth Cave National Park with numerous field trips into and around the Mammoth Cave System. Basics of karst geology and geomorphology; the identification and interpretation of karst landscapes in the field and with geographical information systems; erosional processes in speleogenesis; field collection of geomorphic data; principles of landscape evolution modeling; and numerical modeling techniques in Matlab, Landlab, python, OpenFoam, and other software packages. The primary outcome of this course is for you to be able to effectively communicate information about karst geomorphology using findings from field measurements and results from numerical modeling. Knowledge and skill will be constructed through a combination of lecture and hands-on exercises, individual and group student work, and discussion within the class. There will be strong emphasis on student development of tangible class products including numerical models, plots, tables, text documents, and images. Students will work on a karst geomorphology modeling project throughout the week that incorporates each of these components and will present their results to the class on the final day. The course is available as a workshop, or for academic credit (either undergraduate or graduate). To earn college credit, a more extensive project will be planned, executed, and submitted electronically by August 1 following the course. Academic students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate geology, geography, GIS, hydrology, and similar programs; educators in science fields related to caves and karst; curious cavers; and anyone with a strong desire to learn new things should consider attending!

Instructors: Dr.Aaron Bird and Rachel Bosch, ABD


Rachel is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geology at the University of Cincinnati where she uses a combination of field work, laboratory experimentation, and numerical modeling to understand the physical and chemical processes that shape our Earth's surface and subsurface into landscapes. She received a BA in physics from Wesleyan University and an MS in geosciences from Penn State. Rachel is a fellow of the Cave Research Foundation, a member of the Explorers Club, the National Speleological Society, and the American Geophysical Union, and serves as the graduate student liaison to the Karst Division of the Geological Society of America.

Aaron is the global lead for the desktop engineering curriculum management team in Siemens Digital Industries Software. Prior to joining Siemens, Aaron served as chair and team member of the Oakland University Learning Assessment committee, which governs learning outcomes evaluation university wide for accreditation. He also designed and taught courses in system safety analysis, risk assessment, and quantitative methods. His primary educational and experiential background is computational fluid dynamics with emphasis in Lagrangian physics simulations. In this area, Aaron has conducted and published a number of numerical studies with direct application in caves and karst. Aaron received his PhD in Engineering from West Virginia University and a bachelor’s degree in Math from Fairmont State College. He is a fellow of the Cave Research Foundation, a fellow of the National Speleological Society, a cartographer for CRF at Mammoth Cave, a CRF expedition leader, and a cofounder with Rachel of the CRF Mammoth Cave Kids Caving Expedition.