Delineation of a Major Karst Basin with Multiple Input Points, Roaring River, Tennessee

  • Ryan GardnerEmail author
  • Evan Hart
  • Chuck Sutherland
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Karst Science book series (AKS)


Karst aquifers that are dominated by conduit recharge are at high risk of contamination because there is little filtration or sorption of contaminants in the water. Identifying flow paths through conduit aquifers is required in order to delineate basin boundaries and potential areas at risk from groundwater contamination. In this study we report on the first continuous (~1 year) discharge and water quality data set ever collected from the Boils spring on the Highland Rim of middle Tennessee. The Boils drains the Roaring River-Spring Creek system, a State Scenic River and Wildlife Management Area. We also report on the results of a quantitative dye trace that was done to identify surface contributions to this spring. At the Boils, we measured discharge, temperature, and specific conductance for an approximate one-year period. The average annual discharge of the Boils during 2015 was 2.1 m3/s, with storm discharge reaching as much as 14 m3/s. Conductivity at the Boils spring ranged from 310 μS at baseflow to 290 μS during storm events. Water temperature of the spring varied seasonally from 9 to 22 °C. The dye trace revealed a direct connection to the Boils from a sink located 9 km away (straight-line distance), with a travel time of about 12 h. A second trace at another sink covered a straight-line distance of 1.5 km in 4 h. The rapid travel times suggest that this aquifer is dominated by conduit flow and that further research to sample water quality is warranted. Our data help to fill an important gap in data about major spring discharge and water quality in Tennessee.


Roaring River Boiling Springs Baseflow Wildlife Management Area Rapid Travel Times 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Du Preez, G., V. Wepener, and I. Dennis. 2016. Metal enrichment and contamination in a karst cave associated with anthropogenic activities in the Witwatersrand Basin, South Africa. Environmental Earth Sciences 75 (8): 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Field, M.S. 1993. Karst hydrology and chemical contamination. Journal of Environmental Systems 22 (1): 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ford, D., and P. Williams. 2007. Karst Hydrogeology and Geomorphology, 562. Chichester, UK: Wiley.Google Scholar
  4. Goldscheider, N., and D. Drew. 2007. Methods in Karst Hydrogeology, 264. London: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  5. Greene, E.A. 1997. Tracing recharge from sinking streams over spatial dimensions of kilometers in a karst aquifer. Ground Water 35 (5): 898–904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Keswick, B.H., D.S. Wang, and C.P. Gerba. 1982. The use of microorganisms as ground-water tracers: A review. Ground Water 20 (2): 142–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Liñán Baena, C., B. Andreo, J. Mudry, and F. Carrasco Cantos. 2009. Groundwater temperature and electrical conductivity as tools to characterize flow patterns in carbonate aquifers: The Sierra de las Nieves karst aquifer, southern Spain. Hydrogeology Journal 17 (4): 843–853.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Padilla, A., A. Pulido-Bosch, and A. Mangin. 1994. Relative importance of baseflow and quickflow from hydrographs of karst springs. Ground Water 32 (2): 267–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Pronk, M., N. Goldscheider, and J. Zopfi. 2007. Particle-size distribution as indicator for fecal bacteria contamination of drinking water from karst springs. Environmental Science and Technology 41 (24): 8400–8405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Quinlan, J.F., and E.C. Alexander Jr. 1987. How often should samples be taken at relevant locations for reliable monitoring of pollutants from an agricultural, waste disposal, or spill site in a karst terrane? A first approximation. In Proceedings of the 2nd multidisciplinary conference on sinkholes and the environmental impacts of Karst, ed B.F. Beck, and W.L. Wilson, 277–286. Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema.Google Scholar
  11. Quinlan, J.F., and R.O. Ewers. 1985. Ground water flow in limestone terranes: Strategy rationale and procedure for reliable, efficient monitoring of ground water quality in karst areas. In Proceedings of the fifth national symposium and exposition on aquifer restoration and ground water monitoring May 21–24, 1985, The Fawcett Center, Columbus, Ohio.Google Scholar
  12. Ryan, M., and J. Meiman. 1996. An examination of short-term variations in water quality at a karst spring in Kentucky. Ground Water 34 (1): 23–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Shuster, E.T., and W.B. White. 1972. Source areas and climatic effects in carbonate groundwaters determined by saturation indices and carbon dioxide pressures. Water Resources Research 8 (4): 1067–1073.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Vesper, D.J., and W.B. White. 2003. Metal transport to karst springs during storm flow: An example from Fort Campbell, Kentucky/Tennessee, USA. Journal of Hydrology 276 (1): 20–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. White, W.B., and E.L. White. 1989. Karst hydrology, concepts from the Mammoth Cave Area, 346. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
  16. White, W.B. 2002. Karst hydrology: Recent developments and open questions. Engineering Geology 65 (2): 85–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tennessee Tech UniversityCookevilleUSA

Personalised recommendations