The hydrogeology and water-quality characteristics of the Lower Floridan aquifer and the relation of the Lower Floridan aquifer to the framework of the Floridan aquifer system were evaluated during a 6-year (1995-2001) study. The study area, a 7,500 square-mile area of east-central Florida, is underlain by three principal hydrogeologic units: the surficial aquifer system, the intermediate confining unit, and the Floridan aquifer system. The Floridan aquifer system, a carbonate-rock aquifer system composed of the Upper Floridan aquifer, a middle semiconfining unit, a middle confining unit, and the Lower Floridan aquifer, is the major source of water supply to east-central Florida. The Upper Floridan aquifer provides much of the water required to meet the current (2002) demand; however, the Lower Floridan aquifer is being used increasingly as a source of freshwater, particularly for municipal needs. For this reason, a better understanding of the aquifer is needed. The Lower Floridan aquifer is present throughout east-central Florida. The aquifer is composed of alternating beds of limestone and dolomite, and is characterized by abundant fractured dolomite zones and solution cavities. The altitude of the top of the Lower Floridan aquifer ranges from less than 600 feet below sea level in the northern part of the study area to more than 1,600 feet below sea level in the southwestern part. Thickness of the unit ranges from about 910 to 1,180 feet. The top of the Lower Floridan aquifer generally is marked by an increase in formation resistivity and by an increase in the occurrence of fractures and solution cavities within the carbonates. Also, a noticeable increase in borehole flow often marks the top of the unit. The bottom of the Lower Floridan aquifer is based on the first occurrence of evaporites. Ground-water in the Lower Floridan aquifer generally moves in a southwest-to-northeast direction across the study area. In September 1998, the altitude of the potentiometric surface of the Lower Floridan aquifer ranged from about 16 to 113 feet above sea level, and altitudes in May 1999 were about 2 to 7 feet lower than those measured in September 1998. The potentiometric surface of the Floridan aquifer system is constantly fluctuating, mainly in response to seasonal variations in rainfall and ground-water withdrawals. Seasonal fluctuations in the Lower Floridan aquifer typically range from about 2 to 10 feet. Water samples from 50 Lower Floridan aquifer wells were collected during this study. Most samples were analyzed in the field for temperature, pH, and specific conductance, and in the laboratory for major cations and anions. Specific conductance ranged from 147 to 6,710 microsiemens per centimeter. Chloride concentrations ranged from 3.0 to 2,188 milligrams per liter; sulfate concentrations ranged from 0.2 to 750 milli-grams per liter; and hardness ranged from 69 to 940 milligrams per liter. Water was least mineralized in the recharge areas of the Lower Floridan aquifer in the western part of the study area. The most mineralized water in the Lower Floridan aquifer occurred along parts of the Wekiva and St. Johns Rivers and in much of the eastern and southern parts of the study area. The altitude of the base of freshwater in the Floridan aquifer system (where chloride concentrations are equal to 250 milligrams per liter) is variable throughout the study area. The estimated position of the 250 milligram per liter isochlor surface is less than 200 feet below sea level in much of the eastern part of the study area, including the areas along the St. Johns River in Lake, Seminole, and Volusia Counties and near the Wekiva River in western Seminole County. The altitude of the 250 milligram per liter isochlor exceeds 3,000 feet below sea level in the extreme southwestern part of the study area.
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Hydrogeology and water-quality characteristics of the Lower Floridan aquifer in east-central Florida