The Cross-Florida Barge Canal route commences at Palatka on the St. Johns River, about 75 miles upstream from the Atlantic Ocean, and extends 110 miles southwestward across Peninsular Florida into deep water in the Gulf of Mexico near Yankeetown. The canal will be equipped with five locks, each 600 feet long and 84 feet wide, and the channel will be a minimum of 12 feet deep and 150 feet wide. From near Ocala northeastward, the canal channel will replace much of the natural channel of the Oklawaha River, and will be excavated into beds of the so-called shallow sand aquifer of Miocene age and younger, which overlies limestone of the Floridan aquifer. Westward from Ocala, most of the canal will be excavated below the potentiometric surface into limestone and dolomite of the Floridan aquifer. Water levels of Rodman, Eureka, and Inglis Pools will be controlled by dams and spillways with the limited exchange of water between the pools and the aquifers. The water levels in the Summit Pools will fluctuate with the natural changes in the ground-water level of the Floridan aquifer, although the stage of the pool will be controlled partly by the stage held in the Eureka Pool. A dynamic inflow-outflow relationship will exist between the Summit Pool and the Floridan aquifer.
The Floridan aquifer in the canal area is 1,000 to 1,200 feet thick and consists of limestone and dolomite of middle Eocene Miocene age, including from older to younger, the Lake City, Avon Park, and Ocala limestones plus permeable sandy, dolomitic limestone in the lower part of the Hawthorn Formation. It is possible that most of the flow to the two major springs in the area occurs in the upper 100 feet or so of the aquifer in the Ocala Limestone. The aquifer is underlain by the Oldsmar limestone of early Eocene age and is overlain by sand, clayey sand, clay and shell beds of Miocene through Holocene age, in thickness from a few feet to 300 feet. The permeable beds overlying the Floridan aquifer constitute the shallow aquifer, while the poorly permeable ones act as confining beds where the Floridan aquifer is under artesian conditions.
A north-south line drawn separating the head of Silver Springs on the west from the Oklawaha River on the east marks the approximate western limit of a continuous blanket of materials of Miocene-Pliocene(?) age covering the rocks of the Floridan aquifer. East of the line, much of the aquifer is under artesian conditions, particularly in the Oklawaha River valley, although in some areas east of the valley, direct recharge through thick permeable Miocene-Pliocene(?) sands occurs. West of the line, only scattered remnants of a once continuous Miocene-Pliocene(?) cover remain. Lack of the cover is a result of erosion on the crest and flank of the Ocala Uplift, a broad northwest-southeast trending anticlinal upwarp, the axis of which is crossed by the canal route in the Dunnellon area. Over most of this area the Floridan aquifer is unconfined and receives direct recharge through a cover of a few tens of feet of sand and clayey sand of Quaternary age.
Tensional stresses during the structural evolution of the Ocala Uplift produced an intersecting system of fractures and normal faults in rocks of the Floridan aquifer. The fractures and faults are important controls for orientation of solution channels and, therefore, for development of ground-water circulation patterns.
When the system surface streams, which once drained the Barge Canal area, eroded the poorly permeable Miocene-Pliocene(?) cover from the flanks of the Ocala Uplift, surface runoff was reduced and precipitation began to directly infiltrate the underlying limestones. Now only principal streams remain, such as the Oklawaha and Withlacoochee Rivers and a few short tributaries, while one of the most highly developed subsurface drainage systems in the world has evolved in cavernous limestone of the Floridan aquifer. Two of the larger freshwater springs in the world now
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Geohydrology of the cross-Florida barge canal area, with special reference to the Ocala vicinity