World's greatest karst disaster

"A respected cave expert has called on the government to address urgently the acidic mine water pollution in the Witwatersrand region that threatens the world-famous Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site.

The Cape Argus notes that in a recent open letter, Mike Buchanan, an ecologist, describes how over a century of gold mining has destroyed the Witwatersrand's unique groundwater system and habitat, leading to the 'world's greatest karst disaster'. Gauteng is nearly 70% overlaid with karst, a landscape formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks, including limestone and dolomite, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Buchanan warns that acidic pollution from historic mining operations could cause irreversible damage to the ancient hominid fossils of the Cradle of Humankind, including the Sterkfontein Caves. These are made of dolomite rock and are vulnerable to acidic water."

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