Germany is a country with many karst areas and natural resources. And because of its high population, many caves and mines are open to the public.
The most important karst areas are located in the süddeutsche Schichtstufenlandschaft (South German Escarpments). Horizontal mesozoic sedimentary layers form plateaus like a tremendous stair. South of the river Main is the Muschelkalk plateau with many caves, among them one of the longest caves of Germany. The Jurassic limestones of Frankian and Swabian Jura bear thousands of caves.
Other important karst areas are the northern Alps (Kalkalpen=Limestone Alps), the Sauerland and Thuringia. Very special and rather rare is the gypsum karst in the southern foothills of the Harz.
Mines are located mainly in crystalline highlands. Historic miners used the rich ores of polymetallic deposits, normally geothermal deposits in dykes. Famous ore mining areas are Harz, Schwarzwald (Black Forest), Erzgebirge, Bayrischer Wald and Fichtelgeirge. Coal was mined in Ruhrgebiet and Saarland, which are also famous industrial areas. Today most mines are closed, as they have rich ore but the necessary subsurface mining is much too expensive.
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