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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: TIPPING THE SCALE IN LONG-TERM KARST RESEARCH - HYDROLOGIC CHARACTERIZATIONOF THE SAVOY EXPERIMENTAL WATERSHED

Authors
item Brahana, John - USGS
item Sauer, Thomas
item Kresse, Timothy - ADPCE
item Al-Rashidy, Said - UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS
item Shirley, Tracy - UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS
item Mckee, Paul - UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS

Submitted to: Proceedings of the Arkansas Water Research Center Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 9, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: In some landscapes, the underlying bedrock has many cracks that allow water to move quickly through the rock. Most research on ground water movement has concentrated on formations that are more porous and have few cracks because measurements over a smaller area are more representative. The problem with the fractured bedrock comes when pollutants enter the system because they can be transported quickly down the cracks into drinking water supplies. This paper describes the development of a field research site that is designed specifically for the study of water flow in fractured bedrock systems. Over 20 groundwater monitoring wells have been installed and two springs have been instrumented to gather information on groundwater flow in the area. In the near future, animal wastes will be added at the soil surface and groundwater will be monitored to see if the wastes have a significant impact on groundwater quality.

Technical Abstract: Karst aquifers, by their very method of formation, are highly nonhomogenous and anisotropic. Ground-water flow is concentrated along unpredictable, preferred flowpaths that are typically open and much more permeable than the surrounding rock matrix. Hydrologic studies in areas underlain by limestone generally take a more regional approach. Environmental questions in karst, on the other hand, typically require site-specific, watershed-scale answers that are commonly several orders of magnitude more refined than regional studies. This research effort involves bridging the gap between regional reality and site-specific need, in tipping the scale in karst research toward watershed-scale problem solving. The Savoy Experimental Watershed (SEW) is the site of an integrated, interdisciplinary research effort to address hydrologic impacts on pollutant transport from animal wastes. Research/monitoring infrastructure already in place includes continuous monitoring of two springs, a surface runoff weir, >20 groundwater monitoring wells, and a comprehensive weather station. Future plans are to continue and expand monitoring activities to assess environmental responses to increased animal waste additions.

Last Modified: 10/31/2014
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