Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Mylroie, John E.

Committee Member

Palmer, Arthur N.

Committee Member

Kirkland, Brenda

Committee Member

Clary, Renee

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Geosciences


Evolution of rocky coastlines is controlled by littoral, biological and fluvial processes. Resultant landforms are overprinted and/or new ones formed as a result of changes in sea level caused by glacioeustasy and/or local tectonics. On carbonate coasts, chemical erosion in the form of karstification takes on a dominant role. Type of karstification is an important factor in understanding carbonate coast evolution and landform development so it is critical to identify type of karstification. In this research, fractal indices were used to distinguish cave and thus karstification type. It was determined that fractal indices effectively differentiated cave types and the indices were used to distinguish cave types at study sites on Barbados, the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) and the Caribbean coast of the northeast Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. This research evaluated caves located in the phreatic, epiphreatic and vadose zones of the northeast coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico to determine the relationship between the caves and to coastal processes. Three distinct coastal landforms associated with caves on the study sites were evaluated to quantify and model the interplay of littoral, fluvial and karstic processes and cave and karst development. On Barbados, the combination of surface fluvial processes, and mixing-zone and fluvial-karstic dissolution, resulted in the formation of gullies. Some gullies contained caves in their bounding walls and/or served as points of recharge to fluvial caves. Bokas of the ABC islands are distinctive geomorphic structures that formed from the interplay of fluvial, littoral and mixing zone karstification. The morphology of the bokas was a function of dominant geomorphic process. The caletas of the Yucatan Caribbean were formed by karstification processes that also produced features with mixing-zone-like morphologies but with fluvio-karstic function. The results of this research expand the Carbonate Island Karst Model (CIKM), which explains eogenetic dissolutional processes and landforms on small carbonate islands, to one that includes carbonate islands of all sizes, and carbonate continental coasts.



fractal indices||coastal caves||Carbonate Island Karst Model||coastal karst