Dye-tracing studies in southwestern Missouri, USA: indication of stratigraphic flow control in the Burlington Limestone


Dye-tracing methods are utilized in an area of southwestern Missouri, USA, in order to evaluate factors influencing groundwater flow in the karst lithology. Four new dye traces were conducted in the Burlington Limestone formation of the surficial Springfield Plateau aquifer. Dye traces were conducted with two large sinkholes with mapped caves as their drainage base, one with fluorescein and one with rhodamine-WT. Two other traces, both using fluorescein dye, were performed where dye was introduced into a groundwater-level monitoring well and an exploratory borehole. Results of these four traces indicate that structural geologic control—as expressed by joints, fractures, faults, and photolineaments—does not account solely for the observed dye-trace results. The available data suggest that significant influence on groundwater movement is exerted by bedding planes within the low dip-angle limestone formation or by lithologic variability within the formation (such as silt- or clay-rich layers that have not yet been clearly identified). Average linear tracer velocities from each of the four traces indicate groundwater movement is primarily through conduits that flow slower than open channel surface waters in the region, but significantly faster than typical groundwater flow through porous media.


Geography, Geology, and Planning

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Hydrogeology Journal