In west-central Florida, wetland and lake distribution is strongly controlled by karst landforms. Sandhill wetlands and lakes are sand-filled upland basins whose water levels are groundwater driven. Lake dimensions only reach wetland edges during extreme precipitation events. Current wetland classification schemes are inappropriate for identifying sandhill wetlands due to their unique hydrologic regime and ecologic expression. As a result, it is difficult to determine whether or not a wetland is impacted by groundwater pumping, development, and climate change. A better understanding of subsurface structures and how they control the hydrologic regime is necessary for development of an identification and monitoring protocol.
Long-term studies record vegetation diversity and distribution, shallow ground water levels and surface water levels. The overall goals are to determine the hydrologic controls (groundwater, seepage, surface water inputs). Most recently a series of geophysical surveys was conducted at select sites in Hernando and Pasco County, Florida. Electrical resistivity and ground penetrating radar were employed to image sand-filled basins and the top of the limestone bedrock and stratigraphy of wetland slopes, respectively.
The deepest extent of these sand-filled basins is generally reflected in topography as shallow depressions. Resistivity along inundated wetlands suggests the pools are surface expressions of the surficial aquifer. However, possible breaches in confining clay layers beneath topographic highs between depressions are seen in resistivity profiles as conductive anomalies and in GPR as interruptions in otherwise continuous horizons. These data occur at sites where unconfined and confined water levels are in agreement, suggesting communication between shallow and deep groundwater.
Wetland plants are observed outside the historic wetland boundary at many sites, GPR profiles show near-surface layers dipping towards the wetlands at a shallower angle than the slope. Wetlands plants are often found where these layers are truncated by the slope suggesting seepage of unconfined aquifer and a new wetland boundary.
Presented at the AGU Fall Meeting on December 15, 2015 in San Francisco, CA.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christine-downs/5/