Geology of karst of Serbia and Montenegro
general review
(old title: Geology of Yugoslav karst)


The karst of Serbia and Montenegro is located in two separate regions: in the eastern part of the country, the Carpatho-Balkanides, which continues into Romania beyond the Danube Gorge (Djerdap) divide, and on the west and south-west, the Dinaric carbonate platform. Both regions belong to large geosinclines, in which all types of limestone, mostly of Mesozoic age, with sporadic dolomites are present. Favorable petrologic, structural-tectonic, climatic, hypsometrical and hydrogeological conditions led to the formation of karst areas, which are not explored in detail.

The Carpatho-Balkanides are composed of nappe zones which form isolated carbonate areas in its eastern part. The carbonate areas are divided by impermeable rocks, and sporadically covered with Tertiary lacustrine sediments. The bedrock is composed of impermeable rocks which protrude in the bordering, and sporadically the central parts of the carbonate areas. Deeply carved transversal river streams, with strong karstic springs (with maximal flow rates ranging from 0.5 to over 2 m3/s) divide the carbonate areas into separate massives, in which the potential for the vertical developement of the karstification reaches 300 - 700 m to the impermeable bedrock, sporadically even more. This is best illustrated by the recent speleodiving explorations done by Aleksandar Milosavljevic (the springs Vrelo Mlave and Vrelo Krupac, 1995 and 1997) where depths of more than 70 m have been reached, whithout reaching the termination of the vertically descending passages. These are the maximal speleodiving depths reached in Serbia and Montenegro so far. 6 of the 10 longest caves, and 90% of the deepest caves in Serbia, are located in the Carpatho-Balkanides karst region.
Geotectonic division of Yugoslavia (gif, 42 k)

Geotectonic division according to B. Ciric:
1. Outer Dinarides, 2. Inner Dinarides,
3. Pannonian basin, 4. Serbian mass,
5. Carpatho-Balkanides

The Dinaric region can be divided into Inner and Outer Dinarides.
The Inner Dinarides are located in western Serbia and northern Montenegro, while the Outer Dinarides are located in most part of Montenegro and in the bordering area of Serbia towards Albania. In the Inner Dinarides, the limestones are prevailingly of Triassic age, covered on the east by lacustrine and flyschoid deposits with frequent intrusions and penetrations of magmatites, while on the west they have complex structural-tectonic relation towards older rocks, Ophiolitic Mélange and Outer Dinarides. The most important karst areas are on the karst of Lelic, on Giljeva Mt. and on Pester, bordering parts of Mts. Zlatibor, Zlatar and Tara. The longest cave in Montenegro (Pecina nad Vrazjim Firovima) and the one of the longest Serbian caves (Usacki pecinski sistem) are located in this region, on Pester.
The Outer Dinarides are characterized with great thickness of carbonate deposits, which form high-mountain areas (Durmitor, Prokletije, ...) with peaks over 2000 m a.s.l., with abundant atmospheric precipitation. They are drained by strong karstic springs, with maximal flow rates exceeding 10 m3/s, with occasional syphonal circulation and resurgences below sea level (at Boka Kotorska). The highest areas were affected by glaciation and have all characteristics of a typical alpine Karst. The deepest cave in Montenegro, the Jama na Vjetrenim brdima, on Durmitor, -897 m, explored on an international expedition in 1985 is located in this region. However, the Prokletije Mts. range in the bordering area with Albania has the greatest potential for deep caves, but has not been speleologically explored.

text by Milena Zlokolica-Mandic
(written in 1996)


[ back to ASAK home page | back to Karst of Serbia and Montenegro ]