The abundance of karst depressions in Yucatán has been widely recognized, but they have not been classified or quantified despite their importance in land planning and use.

Our objective was to study the types and areas of the sinkholes, uvalas, and poljes and identify their patterns of spatial distribution.

We used 58 topographic maps (1:50,000) from INEGI, from which we extracted the depressions and bodies of water. For typology, we used a circularity index and the shape and area of the depressions. For single-density analysis, we extracted the centroids and added an inventory of karst features (cenotes, caves).

We counted 6717 depressions with a total area of 454 km2 and 750 karst features. We identified 4620 dolines (34 km2), mainly in plateaus below 30 masl. In number, they are followed by uvalas (2021) and poljes (76), occupying together a similar area (210 km2) and dominating in elevations higher than 30 masl. Eighty percent of the dolines were automatically labeled.


Density maps of karst depressions have a wide range of applications.

  1. The different densities are indicative of the types of groundwater flow. These characteristics should be included in models of groundwater flow 
  2. In addition, these density maps can also be used as precursors to tracer studies to identify preferential water flows in order to locate aquifer limits
  3. Depression-density maps are also useful in determining areas with hazard of subsidence and collapse

Aguilar, Y*., F. Bautista, M. Mendoza, O. Frausto, T. Ihl. 2016. Density of karst depressions in Yucatan state, México. Journal of Studies of Cave and Karst. 78(2): 51-60.  DOI: 10. 4311/2015ES01.24.