An analysis was made to describe and interpret the lithology of a part of the Upper Floridan aquifer penetrated by the Regional Observation Monitoring Program (ROMP) 29A test corehole in Highlands County, Florida. This information was integrated into a one-dimensional hydrostratigraphic model that delineates candidate flow zones and confining units in the context of sequence stratigraphy. Results from this test corehole will serve as a starting point to build a robust three-dimensional sequence-stratigraphic framework of the Floridan aquifer system.
The ROMP 29A test corehole penetrated the Avon Park Formation, Ocala Limestone, Suwannee Limestone, and Hawthorn Group of middle Eocene to Pliocene age. The part of the Avon Park Formation penetrated in the ROMP 29A test corehole contains two composite depositional sequences. A transgressive systems tract and a highstand systems tract were interpreted for the upper composite sequence; however, only a highstand systems tract was interpreted for the lower composite sequence of the deeper Avon Park stratigraphic section. The composite depositional sequences are composed of at least five high-frequency depositional sequences. These sequences contain high-frequency cycle sets that are an amalgamation of vertically stacked high-frequency cycles. Three types of high-frequency cycles have been identified in the Avon Park Formation: peritidal, shallow subtidal, and deeper subtidal high-frequency cycles.
The vertical distribution of carbonate-rock diffuse flow zones within the Avon Park Formation is heterogeneous. Porous vuggy intervals are less than 10 feet, and most are much thinner. The volumetric arrangement of the diffuse flow zones shows that most occur in the highstand systems tract of the lower composite sequence of the Avon Park Formation as compared to the upper composite sequence, which contains both a backstepping transgressive systems tract and a prograding highstand systems tract. Although the porous and permeable layers are not thick, some intervals may exhibit lateral continuity because of their deposition on a broad low-relief ramp. A thick interval of thin vuggy zones and open faults forms thin conduit flow zones mixed with relatively thicker carbonate-rock diffuse flow zones between a depth of 1,070 and 1,244 feet below land surface (bottom of the test corehole). This interval is the most transmissive part of the Avon Park Formation penetrated in the ROMP 29A test corehole and is included in the highstand systems tract of the lower composite sequence.
The Ocala Limestone is considered to be a semiconfining unit and contains three depositional sequences penetrated by the ROMP 29A test corehole. Deposited within deeper subtidal depositional cycles, no zones of enhanced porosity and permeability are expected in the Ocala Limestone. A thin erosional remnant of the shallow marine Suwannee Limestone overlies the Ocala Limestone, and permeability seems to be comparatively low because moldic porosity is poorly connected. Rocks that comprise the lower Hawthorn Group, Suwannee Limestone, and Ocala Limestone form a permeable upper zone of the Upper Floridan aquifer, and rocks of the lower Ocala Limestone and Avon Park Formation form a permeable lower zone of the Upper Floridan aquifer. On the basis of a preliminary analysis of transmissivity estimates for wells located north of Lake Okeechobee, spatial relations among groups of relatively high and low transmissivity values within the upper zone are evident. Upper zone transmissivity is generally less than 10,000 feet squared per day in areas located south of a line that extends through Charlotte, Sarasota, DeSoto, Highlands, Polk, Osceola, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie Counties. Transmissivity patterns within the lower zone of the Avon Park Formation cannot be regionally assessed because insufficient data over a wide areal extent have not been compiled.