A statistical evaluation of the origin of cypress domes in Florida
journal contributionposted on 21.09.2020, 22:16 by Eron Raines
Two competing explanations exist for the origin of one type of karstic landform found in Florida called the cypress dome. One explanation relies on complex ecological feedbacks stemming from nutrient cycling suggesting biota contribute more significantly to processes of landscape evolution in Florida than anywhere else in the world. The second explanation is that the landforms are sinkholes that completely preclude the biological explanation while fitting more parsimoniously with the surrounding geological narrative. This work puts forward geostatistical analyses and a model linking the landforms to sinkholes, thus bolstering the geological explanation for origin of the landform. Satellite imagery of sinkholes occurring in limestone from locations spanning the planet was analyzed. Measurements of globally distributed limestone sinkhole surface areas are best characterized by an exponential distribution indicating sinkhole formation is robust to starting conditions (i.e., climate, tectonics). This observation is supported by an analysis of sinkhole geometry and geospatial dispersion. This demonstrates the geospatial parameters space for globally distributed groups of sinkholes forming in limestone are statistically indistinguishable despite sinkhole formation in different climates, tectonic regimes, and at different times. Employing this observation as a tool, sinkholes are directly compared to the cypress domes in Florida and are found to be statistically indistinguishable. From the striking similarity in spatial parameter spaces in conjunction with the geologic history of the area, it is interpreted that these landforms originate through geologic, not biologic, processes.