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St. Pete Hosts Leaky Coastal Margins/Karst Interest Group Workshops

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During the week of February 12th, the Coastal and Marine Geology Center in Petersburg, FL, sponsored two concurrent and integrated meetings: The Leaky Coastal Margins (LCM) Working Group and the first Bureau-wide Karst Interest Group (KIG) workshop (Eve Kuniansky, coordinator).

The principal objective of the LCM working group was to identify the most critical research needs in the field of coastal hydrogeology, and to draft a corresponding white paper that serves not only as an evolving research template, but also as a forum for new interdisciplinary exchange and partnerships.
Non-USGS participants and their affiliations can be found on the LCM Web site. Hydrogeologic issues and processes related to karstic terrain and karstic land/sea margins were the common thread that linked the two meetings. The principal objective of the LCM working group was to identify the most critical research needs in the field of coastal hydrogeology, and to draft a corresponding white paper that serves not only as an evolving research template, but also as a forum for new interdisciplinary exchange and partnerships.

The steering committee for the LCM workshop (Peter Swarzenski, Jack Kindinger, Dave Brown) invited USGS and external speakers to present ongoing projects and key scientific issues related to the geologic control of coastal aquifers. Pat Leahy's keynote address succinctly highlighted an integrated perspective of some past and ongoing coastal hydrogeologic projects. Other speakers included Frank Manheim, Brian Edwards, Carole McIvor, and Paul Barlow. Jeff Davis, Gregg Jones, and Steve Krupa spoke on behalf of Florida water management district interests. David Loper and Jeff Chanton (Florida State University) and Jon Martin (University of Florida) described university programs that addressed hydrogeologic issues related to karstic terrain. Information obtained during these presentations was collated and more formally discussed during a second-day breakout session. A detailed white paper is currently in production.

figure illustrating groundwater flow and saltwater intrusion on Florida's Atlantic coast

For our purposes, leaky coastal margins are defined as land/sea boundaries where the geologic framework consists of karstic features that uniquely define coastal hydrogeologic processes. For example, extreme bedrock transmissivities, conduit flow, offshore seeps/springs all complicate a sound understanding of coastal aquifer systems, especially with regard to coastal groundwater-quality issues such as saltwater intrusion and reservoir capacity. Our science-planning workshop focused specifically on leaky coastal margins, where the underlying geology is predominantly carbonate limestone, and where the land/sea boundary often includes an additional complex subterranean/submarine component. The following issues/concepts unique to leaky coastal margins were addressed in this workshop:

  1. the biogeochemical and hydrogeological effects of submarine groundwater discharge,
  2. carbonate-based estuaries as unique biogeochemical reactors (i.e., contaminant transport),
  3. coastal groundwater/surface-water interactions, and
  4. biogeochemical reactions at the freshwater/saltwater interface.

Karst Interest Group

The mission of the Karst Interest Group (KIG) is to encourage and support interdisciplinary collaboration and technology transfer among USGS scientists working in karst areas and interested in karst hydrology. Additionally, the KIG encourages cooperative studies between: the Water Resources Program Districts and National Research Program Offices, the Water Resources Program Districts and other USGS Biological Program Science Centers, Mapping Centers, or Geologic Program Research Centers, and the USGS and other Department of Interior (DOI) Agencies and University researchers.

This first workshop held in St. Petersburg consisted of two days of technical presentations and posters (February 13th-14th) that are published in "U.S. Geological Survey Karst Interest Group Proceedings, St. Petersburg, Florida, February 13-16, 2001" (Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4011, Eve L. Kuniansky, editor). On February 15th, the group participated in a field trip that highlighted karst hydrogeologic features in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. About 90 people attended the workshop from the USGS, National Park Service, and universities, including students and two Department of Defense staff members involved in remediation efforts in areas of karst terrain. The presentations covered ecosystems, natural resource development, geologic framework, aquifer hydraulics, DOI programs that involve karst, numerical modeling, cave and spring species and habitats, geochemistry, geophysical methods, contaminant transport, and tracers. Each of these topics was devoted strictly to karst systems.

To join the Karst Interest Group, simply request to be added to the Lotus Notes Mail alias by sending an email message to Eve Kuniansky (elkunian@usgs.gov). In this way you will be informed about technical meetings related to karst, the next KIG Workshop and you will be added to the directory of members.

Related Web Sites
Leaky Coastal Margins (LCM) Working Group
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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