Thermal infrared (TIR) imagery was acquired along coastal Levy County, Florida, in March 2009 with the goal of identifying groundwater-discharge locations in Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park (WBPSP). Groundwater discharge is thermally distinct in winter when Floridan aquifer temperature, 71-72 degrees F, contrasts with the surrounding cold surface waters. Calibrated imagery was analyzed to assess temperature anomalies and related thermal traces. The influence of warm Gulf water and image artifacts on small features was successfully constrained by image evaluation in three separate zones: Creeks, Bay, and Gulf. Four levels of significant water-temperature anomalies were identified, and 488 sites of interest were mapped. Among the sites identified, at least 80 were determined to be associated with image artifacts and human activity, such as excavation pits and the Florida Barge Canal. Sites of interest were evaluated for geographic concentration and isolation. High site densities, indicating interconnectivity and prevailing flow, were located at Corrigan Reef, No. 4 Channel, Winzy Creek, Cow Creek, Withlacoochee River, and at excavation sites. In other areas, low to moderate site density indicates the presence of independent vents and unique flow paths. A directional distribution assessment of natural seep features produced a northwest trend closely matching the strike direction of regional faults. Naturally occurring seeps were located in karst ponds and tidal creeks, and several submerged sites were detected in Waccasassa River and Bay, representing the first documentation of submarine vents in the Waccasassa region. Drought conditions throughout the region placed constraints on positive feature identification. Low discharge or displacement by landward movement of saltwater may have reduced or reversed flow during this season. Approximately two-thirds of seep locations in the overlap between 2009 and 2005 TIR night imagery were positively re-identified in 2009. These results indicate a 33 percent chance of feature omission in the 2009 imagery. This assessment of seep location and distribution contributes to an understanding of the underlying geology, the role of fault and fracture patterns, and the presence of both interconnected and constrained flow paths in the region. The maps and evaluations will enhance Park management efforts, interpretation of Park resources, and increase understanding of the combined effects of land and water use on the coastal lowlands, estuarine habitats, and natural resources of WBPSP.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Thermal Imaging of the Waccasassa Bay Preserve: Image Acquisition and Processing