Karst refers to a geologic formation of irregular limestone deposits with sinks, underground streams, and underground caves. Limestone is a sedimentary rock consisting mainly of calcium that was deposited by the remains of marine animals; this rock often holds and transports vast quantities of fresh water. GUE's research of karst aquifers serves to advance the protection of these areas by developing new replicable models for investigating their characteristics and enhancing the general understanding of these resources.

Karst aquifers occur widely (Veni, 2002) and supply an estimated 25% of the world's potable groundwater. In addition, springs found in karstic regions often have great recreational value and remarkable biodiversity. Karstic aquifers are particularly susceptible to contamination via the exchange of groundwater and surface water. In spite of their obvious importance and vulnerability, karstic aquifers are relatively poorly misunderstood.