Cores and borehole-geophysical logs collected on and around two tree islands in Water Conservation Area 3 have been examined to develop a stratigraphic framework for these ecosystems. Especially important is the potential for the exchange of ground water and surface water within these features. The hydrostratigraphic results from this study document the lithologic nature of the foundation of the tree islands, the distribution of porous intervals, the potential for paleotopographic influence on their formation, and the importance of low-permeability, subaerial-exposure horizons on the vertical exchange of ground water and surface water.
Figure 1. Location of Tree Islands 3AS3 and 3BS1. [larger image]
Results from this hydrostratigraphic study indicate that subtle differences occur in lithofacies and topography between the on-island and off-island subsurface geologic records. Specifics are described herein. Firstly, at both tree-island sites, the top of the limestone bedrock is slightly elevated beneath the head of the tree islands relative to the off-island core sites and the tail of the tree islands, which suggests that bedrock 'highs' acted as 'seeds' for the development of the tree islands of this study and possibly many others. Secondly, examination of the recovered core and the caliper logs tentatively suggest that the elevated limestone beneath the tree islands may have a preferentially more porous framework relative to limestone beneath the adjacent areas, possibly providing a ground-water-to-surface-water connection that sustains the tree island system. Finally, because the elevation of the top of the limestone bedrock at the head of Tree Island 3AS3 is slightly higher than the surrounding upper surface of the peat, and because the wetland peats have a lower hydraulic conductivity than the limestone bedrock (Miami Limestone and Fort Thompson Formation), it is possible that there is a head difference between surface water of the wetlands and the ground water in underlying limestone bedrock.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrostratigraphy of Tree Island Cores from Water Conservation Area 3