Instrumenting caves to collect hydrologic and geochemical data: case study from James Cave, Virginia

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Karst aquifers are productive groundwater systems, supplying approximately 25 % of the world’s drinking water. Sustainable use of this critical water supply requires information about rates of recharge to karst aquifers. The overall goal of this project is to collect long-term, high-resolution hydrologic and geochemical datasets at James Cave, Virginia, to evaluate the quantity and quality of recharge to the karst system. To achieve this goal, the cave has been instrumented for continuous (10-min interval) measurement of the (1) temperature and rate of precipitation; (2) temperature, specific conductance, and rate of epikarst dripwater; (3) temperature of the cave air; and (4) temperature, conductivity, and discharge of the cave stream. Instrumentation has also been installed to collect both composite and grab samples of precipitation, soil water, the cave stream, and dripwater for geochemical analysis. This chapter provides detailed information about the instrumentation, data processing, and data management; shows examples of collected datasets; and discusses recommendations for other researchers interested in hydrologic and geochemical monitoring of cave systems. Results from the research, briefly described here and discussed in more detail in other publications, document a strong seasonality of the start of the recharge season, the extent of the recharge season, and the geochemistry of recharge.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Instrumenting caves to collect hydrologic and geochemical data: case study from James Cave, Virginia
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-14212-8_8
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Springer International Publishing
Contributing office(s) Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center
Description 27 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title Advances in watershed science and assessment
First page 205
Last page 231
Country United States
State Virginia
Other Geospatial James Cave