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Instrumenting Caves to Collect Hydrologic and Geochemical Data: Case Study from James Cave, Virginia

  • Madeline E. SchreiberEmail author
  • Benjamin F. Schwartz
  • William Orndorff
  • Daniel H. Doctor
  • Sarah D. Eagle
  • Jonathan D. Gerst
Chapter
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 33)

Abstract

Karst aquifers are productive groundwater systems, supplying approximately 25 % of the world’s drinking water. Sustainable use of this critical water supply requires information about rates of recharge to karst aquifers. The overall goal of this project is to collect long-term, high-resolution hydrologic and geochemical datasets at James Cave, Virginia, to evaluate the quantity and quality of recharge to the karst system. To achieve this goal, the cave has been instrumented for continuous (10-min interval) measurement of the (1) temperature and rate of precipitation; (2) temperature, specific conductance, and rate of epikarst dripwater; (3) temperature of the cave air; and (4) temperature, conductivity, and discharge of the cave stream. Instrumentation has also been installed to collect both composite and grab samples of precipitation, soil water, the cave stream, and dripwater for geochemical analysis. This chapter provides detailed information about the instrumentation, data processing, and data management; shows examples of collected datasets; and discusses recommendations for other researchers interested in hydrologic and geochemical monitoring of cave systems. Results from the research, briefly described here and discussed in more detail in other publications, document a strong seasonality of the start of the recharge season, the extent of the recharge season, and the geochemistry of recharge.

Keywords

Cave Dripwater Epikarst Karst Recharge Subsurface monitoring 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We extend our thanks to the Ferrell family of Pulaski County for graciously allowing us unfettered access to the cave. Funding for the James Cave project was provided by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, the US Geological Survey/National Institutes for Water Resources, the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias, the Geological Society of America, and the Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences. We thank Bev Shade and David Culver for discussions about study design and data collection, Don Rimstidt for geochemical insight, and Tom Malabad for conducting the cave survey. Helpful reviews were provided by MaryLynn Musgrove (USGS) and the editors of this volume. We are also extremely grateful to Stuart Hyde, Heather Scott, Sally Morgan, Nathan Farrar, Ariel Brown, Anna Hardy, Matthew Blower, and members of the VPI Cave Club for valuable assistance in the cave.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Madeline E. Schreiber
    • 1
    Email author
  • Benjamin F. Schwartz
    • 2
  • William Orndorff
    • 3
  • Daniel H. Doctor
    • 4
  • Sarah D. Eagle
    • 1
  • Jonathan D. Gerst
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyTexas State University-San MarcosSan MarcosUSA
  3. 3.Virginia Department of Conservation and RecreationRichmondUSA
  4. 4.U.S. Geological SurveyRestonUSA

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