School of Environment


World Map of Carbonate Rock Outcrops v3.0

The first version of the world map of carbonate rocks appeared in Ford & Williams (1989) Karst Geomorphology and Hydrology. A revision was published in Williams & Ford (2006) Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie Suppl-Vol 147, 1-2, and used in Ford & Williams (2007) Karst Hydrogeology and Geomorphology (Wiley). This v3.0 revision is in greater detail and attempts to differentiate those areas where carbonate rocks are relatively pure and continuous from those where they are abundant but discontinuous or impure. It was prepared by Paul Williams and Yin Ting Fong using a multitude of sources the most important of which are acknowledged in Williams & Ford (2006). The map was assembled using GIS on an Eckert IV equal-area projection.

Most carbonate rocks are susceptible to karstification, although not all are well karstified. Thus the area of carbonate rock outcrop provides an upper limit on the area of exposed karst terrain. Extensive karstified carbonate rock also exists in subcrop, but is not mapped here.

World Carbonate Outcrop Areas

Region Countries Included Land Area (km²) Maximum Carbonate
Outcrop (km²)
World Exclude Antarctica, Greenland and Iceland 133,448,089 17,655,024 13.2
Russia Federation plus Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan 20,649,781 3,993,639 19.3
South America Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, South Georgai and the South Sandwich Island, Surinam Uruguay, venezuela 17,792,882 370,809 2.1
Africa Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botwana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Congo the democractic, Cote D'ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Reunion, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe 30,001,574 3,041,664 10.1
North America (exclude Greenland) Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominica Republic, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamica, Martinique, Mexico, Monsterrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos Islands, US, Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands (US) 22,229,293 4,076,077 18.3
East and South East Asia Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Indonesia (excluding Papua), Japan, Korea (North and South), Lao, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam 15,638,629 1,688,219 10.8
Middle East and Central Asia Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cyprus, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan,Kuwait, Lebanon, Maldives, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen 11,129,677 2,554,380 23.0
Europe (exclude Iceland and Russia) Albania, Andorra, Austria Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, isle of Man, Italy, latvia, Liechtenstein, lithuania, Luxembourg, macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, netherlands, norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, UK, Vatican City, Yugoslavia 6,125,842 1,337,635 21.8
Australasia American Samoa, Australia, Baker-Howland-Jarvis, Christmas Island, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, New Guinea (Papua New Guinea plus Papua), Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuata, Wallis and Futuna Islands, West Iran, Western Samoa. 9,611,377 592,601 6.2

Download the table as an Excel file world_carbonate_areas.xls world_carbonate_areas_2010.xls (52.0KB)


Carbonate Extent of Various Regions

This section contains images of carbonate extent of various regions.

world_2010.jpg (1.68MB) world_2010.pdf (1.18MB)
world_colour_2010.jpg (1.86MB) world_colour_2010.pdf (1.18MB)
world_frame_2010.jpg (1.66MB) world_frame_2010.pdf (1.14MB)
world_frame_colour_2010.jpg (1.83MB) world_frame_colour_2010.pdf (1.14MB)
africa_2010.jpg (1.44MB) africa_2010.pdf (414KB)
africa_colour_2010.jpg (1.63MB) africa_colour_2010.pdf (406KB)
central_asia_and_india.jpg (1.94MB) central_asia_and_india.pdf (403KB)
central_asia_and_india_colour.jpg (2.33MB) central_asia_and_india_colour.pdf (403KB)
east_and_southeast_asia.jpg (2.02MB) east_and_southeast_asia.pdf (755KB)
east_and_southeast_asia_colour.jpg (2.37MB) east_and_southeast_asia_colour.pdf (755KB)
australasia.jpg (0.97MB) australasia.pdf (429KB)
australasia_colour.jpg (1.07MB) australasia_colour.pdf (429KB)
europe_2010.jpg (1.86MB) europe_2010.pdf (683KB)
europe_colour_2010.jpg (2.14MB) europe_colour_2010.pdf (673KB)
russia_2010.jpg (1.89MB) russia_2010.pdf (652KB)
russia_colour_2010.jpg (2.19MB) russia_colour_2010.pdf (644KB)
North and Central America  
north_america.jpg (1.64MB) north_america.pdf (833KB)
north_america_colour.jpg (1.87MB) north_america_colour.pdf (833KB)
South America  
south_america.jpg (874KB) south_america.pdf (242KB)
south_america_colour.jpg (931KB) south_america_colour.pdf (242KB)


This section contains ArcGIS shapefiles (.shp) of the various regions digitised from source maps. It contains seven different folders that divide the world into seven separate groups: Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North and Central America, South America and World.

Note that the Asia folder contains two .mxd folders: one is for East Asia and the other is for Central Asia and India. Similarly, within the Europe folder there are also two .mxd files: one is for Europe (excluding Russia) and the other is for Russia and its neighbouring countries. A detailed countries definition can be found in the World map inside the World folder. (19.4MB) (6.99MB) (174KB) (20.4MB) (391KB) (5.14MB) (70KB) (20.4MB) (369KB) (9.78MB) (389KB) (3.63MB) (46KB)

If the mxd appears blank, the following two methods can be used to solve the problem:

  • Right click on the name of the shapefile in ArcMap, Go to Data > Repair Data Source. A new window will pop up. Then navigate to the folders that you have downloaded, and click on the related shapefiles. Click the Add button.
  • Open ArcCatalog, right click on the mxd that you have opened, select Set Data Source(s), In the bottom, there is a list of layers that appears on the mxd folder. If you click on the most right hand column - select new data source, the directory of the data source can be changed manually by typing in the correct file directory.


World Heritage Park Shapefiles

A document on cave and karst World Heritage properties has been prepared (July 2008) for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The English language version is available here as a pdf file. The French language version is available from the IUCN.

caves and karst 2008.pdf (1.21MB).

This section also has the shapefiles that include the karst World Heritage park sites.


Download the world heritage park sites as a shapefile (3KB), or as a PDF file worldheritage.pdf (1.14MB).

World Map

worldmap_WGS1984.shp is a shapefile (in GCS_WGS_1984 projection) that has been obtained from Terraspace (Russian space agency) and includes coastlines and national borders. Coast_World2.shp is a simplified version that preserves only coastlines. (9.35MB)


Data sets and maps

Speleothem data sets published in Williams et al. 2004 and Williams et al. 2005 have been up-dated (March 2008) and are available for downloading:
    Excel Icon waitomo_series.xls (109KB)
    Excel Icon nw_south_island_series.xls (107KB)

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