Western Kentucky University

Poster Title

Physical-Chemical Characterization of Karst Waters Involved in the Vadose Zone of Diamond Caverns, Kentucky

Institution

Western Kentucky University

Abstract

This project was a preliminary investigation at Diamond Caverns, a private show cave located near Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky. The purposes of this research included establishing baseline compositional data for cave dripwaters, and examining the possible compositional influence of neighboring agriculture and pavement runoff. Objectives in this project were to obtain physical-chemistry characterization of karst waters and analysis in time and space of parameters such as pH, temperature, and electrical conductivity (EC). With this data, the relationship between the external atmosphere and soil cover, composition of drip waters, and the processes of precipitation/dissolution of carbonate minerals and the transfer of CO2 were extrapolated. A network of fifteen sampling sites, primarily along passageways throughout Diamond Caverns, was designed in order to incorporate various speleothem forms and to allow the assessment of spatial variations in drip rates throughout the cave. Samples were collected approximately every three weeks, and initial drip water volumes recorded in order to determine variations in rates of infiltration (temperature and CO2 also taken initially). Continuous flow was collected in calibrated vessels and the volume per unit time recorded (1 min drip rate). The pH and EC of freshly collected water samples were measured and all samples were titrated for bicarbonate and alkalinity. Preliminary analyses from five previous collections in the fall of 2006 and spring 2007 have been analyzed by OES-ICP at the ERTL Facility at the University of Kentucky. Variations in both element concentrations and element ratios (e.g. Ca/Sr, Mg/Sr, etc.) demonstrated anticipated spatial and temporal variation.

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Physical-Chemical Characterization of Karst Waters Involved in the Vadose Zone of Diamond Caverns, Kentucky

This project was a preliminary investigation at Diamond Caverns, a private show cave located near Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky. The purposes of this research included establishing baseline compositional data for cave dripwaters, and examining the possible compositional influence of neighboring agriculture and pavement runoff. Objectives in this project were to obtain physical-chemistry characterization of karst waters and analysis in time and space of parameters such as pH, temperature, and electrical conductivity (EC). With this data, the relationship between the external atmosphere and soil cover, composition of drip waters, and the processes of precipitation/dissolution of carbonate minerals and the transfer of CO2 were extrapolated. A network of fifteen sampling sites, primarily along passageways throughout Diamond Caverns, was designed in order to incorporate various speleothem forms and to allow the assessment of spatial variations in drip rates throughout the cave. Samples were collected approximately every three weeks, and initial drip water volumes recorded in order to determine variations in rates of infiltration (temperature and CO2 also taken initially). Continuous flow was collected in calibrated vessels and the volume per unit time recorded (1 min drip rate). The pH and EC of freshly collected water samples were measured and all samples were titrated for bicarbonate and alkalinity. Preliminary analyses from five previous collections in the fall of 2006 and spring 2007 have been analyzed by OES-ICP at the ERTL Facility at the University of Kentucky. Variations in both element concentrations and element ratios (e.g. Ca/Sr, Mg/Sr, etc.) demonstrated anticipated spatial and temporal variation.