The Arbuckle Karst Conservancy & Research Institute (AKCRI) is an interdisciplinary non-profit science organization which focuses primarily on conservation and scientific studies in the Arbuckle Mountains and associated uplift areas of south-central Oklahoma, as well as comparative studies in other karst and pseudokarst regions in and outside the United States.

The AKCRI brings together an international team of scientists from the biological, environmental, and earth sciences to expand our understanding of the phenomena, resources, and ecosystems associated with karst so that these unique subjects may be preserved and protected for future generations.

The Arbuckle Karst Conservancy & Research Institute works closely with the Arbuckle Mountains Grotto of the National Speleological Society for all of its subsurface projects.


Karst is a unique landscape which  is commonly characterized by rocky and weathered limestone outcrops in which subterranean drainage is common. Drainage occurs through features such as sinkholes, fissures, and caves as well as many smaller fractures and surface depressions which are typical of karst landscapes. Overtime, dissolution of the soluble host rock enlarges the aperture of partings and fractures which may develop into cave passages which help transport and store water in the subsurface. When a rock formation is capable of yielding a sufficient volume of water to sustain a population of people using water wells or spring capture, we call the formation an aquifer.

Karst aquifers are often extremely complex and movement of water in the subsurface can be rapid and unpredictable making it extremely challenging to understand. Karst aquifers contain unique ecosystems with strange organisms, some of which have evolved in isolation and in total darkness. These organisms are often useful in determining the health of the aquifer.

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