Previous Names :
CRNICABECKEN (=Cernica Basin).
The Devon Karst Research Society.
Part 5.3.  Eastern Herzegovina.
Cernica Polje, BiH-RS Trebinje Region - Gacko Municipality.

Homepage for the series of Webpages dedicated to Cerničko Polje.
Updated 14 November 2006.

The information that we hold about this extraordinary Dinaric Karst Polje is already extensive and is now increasing year on year. This is as a result of the area being within the geographical range of the Society's Main Project in Bosnia & Herzegovina. As a result, we have decided to replicate the presentational format of the Fatničko Polje Webpages, in order to shorten the lengths of the pages and to be able to offer more photographic material as a result. There are obvious gaps in the range of information that we are providing. Firstly, our reconnaissance work in this Polje is far from being complete and secondly, any information of a speleo-biological nature (other than that given in general terms) is currently being witheld to prevent "foreign collectors" (= non BiH collectors) ravaging the precious hypogean faunal habitats of the area.
This Homepage for the Cerničko Polje series of Webpages offers the text and images of Section 1. as a general introduction to the area and then provides a list of Links connected with the remainder of this Series of dedicated Webpages.

CP Section 1. Webpage Contents :

Introduction (opposite).
The Eastern End.
The Central Area.
The Western End.
CP Maps.
Index of Links to the Cerničko Polje Webpages.

Click on the underlined Links above to move
down to the Sections quickly.


Although It is a most un-scientific comment to make, we do regard this karst polje as one of the most odd places to observe karst phenomena. We have so many images of this amazing area that we have decided the best way to present them to you is via the use of Links in the left-side column of this Webpage. Click on the thumb-nail image to see it full-size.
This comparatively small karst polje is situated in the Dinaric Karst and northerly within the area known as Eastern Herzegovina. The nearest large urban conurbation is Gacko, 15 km. by road to the north. The main settlement in the Polje, near its southern border and after which it is named, is Cernica which is situated at an elevation of 950 m.asl. and 145 km. by road from Sarajevo. Another village on the northern boundary of the polje-floor is Ključ at an elevation of 833 m.asl. The village of Zagradci is in the west and the village of Šukovići is located in the far south-east corner at an altitude of 915 m.asl. The village of Stepen is at the far eastern perimeter of the polje near the main road (Trebinje-Gacko) at an elevation of 935 m.asl. The eastern edge of the karst polje is just 8 km. from the border with R. Montenegro (R. Crna Gora).

Up until the early 20th century, this karst polje was formerly known as "Crničko Polje" and even earlier, the karst engineers of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy knew it as "Crnicabecken", or "Cernica Basin".
In his book "Wasserbauten in Bosnien und der Hercegovina.  1. Theil - Meliorationsarbeiten und Cisternen im Karstgebiete"(1896),* Philipp us an analysis of the polje-floor useage of "Crničko Polje" at the time of his survey of the area. He reported that in general, Cerničko Polje had a clayey soil which, in places, had a good covering of humus. 50% of the polje-floor was arable land given over to agriculture; 30% was given over for meadows; 20% was pasture given over for grazing. We have no comparative data about the present ground-useage of this karst polje. The images below give a general, rather than specific, indication of ground-useage.

Cerničko Polje Statistics :

Area  =..4.1 km².  /  410 ha.  /  1 013 acres.
Polje-floor Elevation  =..810 m - 850 m asl.
....(2657 ft - 2789 ft asl.)
Length  =..4.0 km.
Average width  =..1.0 km.
Polje Type  =..Closed Karst Polje.
Drainage system  =..Ponors only.

The Villages in Cerničko Polje.
There are 5 village settlements in Cerničko Polje.
These are Cernica, Ključ, Stepen, Šukovići
and Zagradci.
As they become available, a few general views
of each of these will be posted below.

Cernica / selo Cernica.
[Clicking on the Images below will take you to a special
Link Page for further information and larger Images.]

Photo CP1.13. - A typical view of Cernica Selo.

Photo CP1.14. - A typical view of Cernica Selo,
showing the limestone bedrock pavement / road.

Zagradci / selo Zagradci.
This is located in the western end of the polje, this settlement is in 3 separate parts; Zagradci, Donje Zagradci (which we think is now abandoned) and Gornje Zagradci, the main settlement and most westerly of the three.
[Awaiting images.]

Road access into and along this karst polje is very limited. Indeed, the polje area contains no roads. With a few exceptions, the area is generally devoid of all modern infrastructure and facilities. This is perhaps to be welcomed!!
The polje-floor can be conveniently separated into three distinct areas;

-..THE EASTERN END of the karst polje is not represented by the traditional flat alluvial plain but is a series of low hills and small valleys. Here the polje-floor slopes generally from the north-east downwards to the south-west. This may be regarded as being the permanently damp end of the polje ! There are small flowing brooks and streams. In a normal summer period, the growth of the grass, trees and bushes here is lush. As a consequence, the place is infested with large horseflies and other biting insects. Consequently, exploration on foot here can be fraught. The south-east perimeter harbours the Jasovica Ponor, which feeds water to the now-submerged springs of the Trebišnjica River near Bileća, but to visit this, field-work needs to be undertaken in the winter before the rain and snow arrives but after the cold temperatures have reduced the insect population to a minimum!

Photo CP1.1. (above-left) - A general view of Cerničko Polje from the east looking west down into and along the Eastern end of the Polje. The distant white limestone massif is Mount Baba...(Photo :  B. Lewarne, 22 July 2004.)
Photo CP1.2. (above-right) - A general view of Cerničko Polje from the north-east, again looking west across the Eastern end of the Polje towards its central part...(Photo :  B. Lewarne, 27 August 2005.)

Photo CP1.3. (above-left) - The near vertical Eastern perimeter walls at the far east end of Cerničko Polje, as seen looking eastwards from the north-eastern perimeter. (Photo :  B. Lewarne, 27 August 2005.)
Photo CP1.4. (above-right) - Vertical South perimeter walls at the south-east corner of Cerničko Polje. (Photo :  B. Lewarne, 27 August 2005.)

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We illustrate the plan-view of the layout of the polje areas by way of images of sections of the former FSRJ.
1 : 25 000 Surveys.


Western and part of Central areas.
[Click on the Link above to go to the Cerničko Polje Maps Link-Page].

Part of Central and Eastern areas.
Taken from the SFR Yugoslavia 1 : 25 000 Series.
[Click on the Link above to go to the Cerničko Polje Maps Link-Page].

-..THE WESTERN END of the karst polje does resemble a normal polje-floor area, as is indicated in Photos CP1.3. and CP1.4. below. We have not yet completed a foot-reconnaissance of this area.
Photo CP1.5. (above-left) -A general view of the Western end of Cerničko Polje, looking westwards from the Mid-polje Vrtača towards the mountains of its western perimeter. (Photo :  B. Lewarne, 27 August 2005.)
Photo CP1.6. (above-right) - A view of the Western end of Cerničko Polje, looking north-westwards from the Mid-polje Vrtača towards the footslopes of Mount Baba at its northern perimeter. (Photo :  B. Lewarne, 27 August 2005.)

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Ključ / selo Ključ.
This located on the northern side of the polje overlooking the central and eastern areas.

Historical :
We have found an interesting old reference to the former Turkish settlement at Grad Ključ.

Clicking on the Image above will take you to a special Link Page
for further historical information.

Šukovići. / selo Šukovići.
This is located at the southern edge of the polje in the Eastern end.

[Awaiting images.]

Stepen. / selo Stepen.
This is located at the extreme eastern end of the polje.
[Awaiting images.]

-..THE CENTRAL OR MID-POLJE VRTAČA / DOLINE or giant depression is the main focus of our current interest. It is also a focus of periodic karst hydro-hyperactivity.
We shall start with some general views of the area, recorded as we move from the Eastern End of the Polje towards its Central Vrtača. More detailed descriptions of individual features within this central part of the Polje can be found in the appropriate Sections of the Cerničko Polje Webpages. Towering above the central part of the polje and on its northern side is the impressive Mount Baba. The peak of this massif at an elevation of 1735m asl. (5692 feet) is known as Đed and is adjacent to the far western end of the polje. However, to the east of the main peak and slightly west of the mid-polje floor area is the second highest peak of the Baba Massif, known as Goli vrh at an elevation of 1493 m asl. (4898 feet).

Photo CP1.7. (above-left) - A view of the Central Part of Cerničko Polje, looking westwards from the point along the mid-polje floor to where its total width has now diminished to about 400m.
On the far left of this view is the narrow natural canyon linking the Central Section with the Eastern Section of Cerničko Polje.
When the Ponor "Ključka Rijeka" becomes inundated and the Central Section of the polje then becomes flooded, a backflow or overflow of this water occurs along or through this connecting canyon into the Eastern Section.
(Photo :  B. Lewarne, 27 August 2005.)
Photo CP1.8. (above-right) - Further along again and we can see the central depression at the foot of Mount Baba. (Photo :  B. Lewarne, 27 August 2005.)

Photo CP1.9. (above-left) - In the left-foreground is the westward continuation of the central depression or doline, which has now formed a deep, narrow tree-lined karst canyon (in the lower-left of the view).
Photo CP1.10. (above-right) - A view looking back (eastwards) from just beyond the narrow the Mid-polje depression. The background dip and the foreground rise in the access track indicates the east-west extent of the doline.
(Photos :  B. Lewarne, 27 August 2005.)

Photo CP1.11. (above-left).and.Photo CP1.12. (above-right) - (Photos :  B. Lewarne, 27 August 2005.)
The final two views in this sequence illustrate the karst canyon at the west end of the Mid-polje depression or Central Vrtača.
The view on the left illustrates the east end of the canyon, with a substantial hydrometric concrete weir across its width.
The view on the right is taken from the west looking eastwards to and beyond the point where the River Ključ enters the short canyon, pouring through the hydrometric weir to the ponor beneath.

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Index of Links to the
Cerničko Polje Series of Webpages

.....Section 1.....General Description  -  Generalni Opis  -  Генерални Опис : (Given on this Webpage).
.....Section 2.....Karst Hydrology & Hydrogeology  -  Hidrologija i Hidrogeologija Karsta  -  Хидрологија и Хидрогеологија Карста :
.....Section 3.....Karst Springs  -  Kraški Izvori i Vrela  -  Крашки Извори и Врело :
.....Section 4.....Rivers & Streams  -  Rijeke i Potoci  -  Ријеке и Потоци :
.....Section 5.....The Periodic Lake  -  Periodično Jezero  -  Периодично Језеро :
.....Section 6.....Ponors  -  Ponori  -  Понори :
.....Section 7.....Estavelles  -  Estavele  -  Еставеле :
.....Section 8.....Shafts & Caves  -  Jame i Pećine  -  Јаме и Пећине :
.....Section 9.....Dolines & Uvalas  -  Vrtača i Uvale  -  Вртача и Увале :
.....Section 10...Bibliography  -  Bibliografija  - Библиографиijа  :

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