Limestone is a commonly found type of rock found most my in the south of England and in Southern Africa. Limestone is a family word, as far as rocks go; this means that there are different verities, like for example; there is Chalk, Massive Limestone, Oolitic Limestone, and Tropical Limestone. All Limestone absorbs water one way or another, we use a term for this; Permeable. There are two ways Limestone is Permeable, one being Porous (like a sponge), the other being Pervious (through cracks).
Limestone comes from different periods in history, Chalk from the Cretaceous period (Of or belonging to the geologic time, system of rocks, and sedimentary deposits of the third and last period of the Mesozoic Era, characterized by the development of flowering plants and ending with the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs and many other forms of life.). Chalk is porous, i.e. it has lots of little air bubbles (gaps) inside it, so when water is dripped on it, or it is dropped in water is will soak it up like a sponge. Chalk can be found in the southern parts of England, in some parts of Africa, and other places around the planet.
Oolitic Limestone from the Jurassic Period (Of or belonging to the geologic time, rock series, or sedimentary deposits of the second period of the Mesozoic Era) is also a porous Limestone, found in the USA, like in Kansas. Oolites are small rounded particles or grains, so named because they look like fish eggs. Oolites commonly are formed by layers of material (usually calcite), which have been deposited around some tiny particle such as a sand grain or fossil fragment and are rolled back and forth in quiet waters.
Massive Limestone from the Carboniferous Period (Of, belonging to, or denoting a geologic division of the Paleozoic Era following the Devonian and preceding the Permian, including the Mississippian Period and the Pennsylvanian Period and characterized, especially in the Pennsylvanian, by swamp formation and deposition of plant remains later hardened into coal.) Massive Limestone is probably the second most well known Limestone in England, used all over the country for building; Portland Stone. Formed by great pressure causing the molecules to be pushed closer together causing it to harden and become very strong, that is why it is widely used for building.
Tropical Limestone from the Karst (An area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns) found in Topical climates, for example, on the equator.
Massive Limestone and Chalk are sedimentary rocks, made by bedding when it was under water. Layers of sediment and minerals fell to the sea bed, and as more and more fell the more pressure there was on the earlier layers and caused it all to become a solid mass, as I explained earlier.
Limestone is easily eroded or dissolved; it is dissolved and is eroded by water. As water runs over, hits or sits on limestone it picks up limestone paricals, mainly calcium. This can lead on to Micro features, Grites and caves, and with caves there are stalactites, and stalagmites, both caused my dripping water, of which has calcium in, and every time a drop of water trickles down from a crack or an uneven surface it will leave behind a very small amount of calcium, which other time as this keeps happening, will result in stalactites, and stalagmites, and eventually will lead on to become a pillar (the joining of stalactites and stalagmites).
Limestone is also attacked by acid, acid that we ourselves are producing, not of our choosing, but none the less our fault. Limestone is attacked by Carbonic Acid. Carbonic acid is the combination of water and carbon dioxide, as seen here below:
Water + Carbon Dioxide = Carbonic Acid
H2O + CO2 = H2CO3
Carbonic Acid + Calcium Carbonate = Calcium Bicarbonate
H2CO3 + CaCO3 (Solid) = Ca(HCO3) 2 (Liquid)
Structures like St Paul’s Cathedral, and places like Portland are being eaten away at by this process.
Weathering action like Freeze Thore can cause Screa Slopes, this is when water gets into cracks, say in a the cliff. The water then freezes and expands in the earth and rock, forcing the earth and rocks apart and to split, causing weakness and crumbling, resulting in the collapse of the mass of rock and earth leaving Screa Slopes.
Freeze thore, and sea erosion on cliffs made of limestone, for example Lulworth Cove, the sea erosion, and freeze thore can constantly eroded away the chalk, and as it began as a cliff, it is now a cove.
So in conclusion to the question “To What Extent Do Limestone Give Rise To Distinctive Land Forms” in my opinion limestone does give rise to distinctive land forms, after all in some parts of England, there is just grey pavement of lime stone, where the rain has taken away all the soil and left the limestone to slowly erode.
Because of limestone there are springs and rivers, which become waterfalls and rivers leading for miles, dry valleys, where porous limestone has absorbed all the water leaving a dry valley.
Mountains and hills, made of limestone, steep hills, smooth shaped hills, vertical mountains, some climbable, not impossible all due to limestone, as I say it like this, it appears to me that limestone shapes the earth, it plays a big part in our everyday lives, Chalk for black boards, Massive Limestone for building (St. Paul’s Cathedral).
The lay of the land, especially down in the south west of England in the county of Dorset, is due to the limestone, after all the ridge way, is a nice smooth hill, all because it is on a soft limestone; Chalk.