Useful Information

Location: Praid (Parajd), eastern Transilvania.
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstHalogenide Karst
Light: n/a
Guided tours:  
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The small mining town Praid in eastern Transilvania, not far from the Carpathian Mountains, has a unique sight: a salt karst landscape in a humid area. We do not know of any other site like this in the world, where salt reaches the surface and forms such a classic but short lived karst area.

Why is salt karst in humid climates so exceptional? Geologic movements are much slower than the solution of the salt. Typically this solution process is extremely fast, compared to the slow geologic processes, and the moving salt is dissolved as soon as it reaches the ground water. So it is typically dissolved by ground water and does not even reach the surface.

There are of course karst-like structures like dolines, which are produced by the subterranean sulution of salt. In a certain way there are also caves, huge chambers where the salt was dissolved and transported away. But those caves are deep underground, completely filled with water and generally have no connection to the surface. Actually they are filled with brine, water with a salt content like the Dead Sea.

Here at Praid the salt is above ground. Actually it moves upwards very fast from a layer of Badenian or Miocene layer of salt. The salt is covered by some two kilometers of sedimentary rocks. The pressure causes the salt to flow and presses it up at the sides of the basin. Dealul Sarii (salt hill, 567 m asl) is composed of salt, a deposit which is 2000 m thick and estimated to consist of 3 Billion tons of salt. The solution causes huge karren fields, parallel scars in the salt surface caused by rain water dissolving salt while running down. And there are caves inside the salt, also caused by the rainwater. They grow very fast and are also very short lived.