In an effort to attract new industries and jobs, the city of Florence, Alabama has proposed development of an industrial park southwest of the city. Carbonate rock under-lines the area and sinkholes, springs, caves, and sinking streams are common. Key Cave, located about 5 miles southwest of the proposed park, is the only know habitat for the Alabama Cavefish (Speoplatyrhinus poulsoni). The Alabama Cavefish is a Federally designated Endangered Species, and Key Cave has been designated as Critical Habitat. The U.S. Geological Survey was requested by the city of Florence and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to assist in determining if a hydraulic connection exists between the proposed industrial park and Key Cave.
Dye tracing methods were used in the investigation to determine if a hydraulic connection exists. Dye tracing is a technique that involves labeling a discrete quantity of ground water with a fluorescent dye so that its flow in the subsurface can be tracked to a ground-water discharge point. Monitoring for dyes involved the use of passive dye detectors placed in springs, wells, caves and surface streams. During the passage of ground water containing fluorescent dye, the dye is absorbed and concentrated on the detectors. Spectrofluorometric analyses of the detectors determines the presence or absence of dye.
Dye injected in well I-1 on January 10, 2001, was recovered from site 67, Cypress Creek at General John Coffee Highway (State Highway 20) on January 17, 2001. No dye was recovered from site 68, Cypress Creek at Waterloo Road (County Road 14), indicating an east-southeast flow path from well I-1 to Cypress Creek. No positive dye recovery was made from dye injected in well I-2 on January 10, 2001. Water samples collected from the well February 1 and 15, 2001, showed little movement into the ground-water system. Dye injected in well I-3 on January 10, 2001, was recovered at two sites in Key Cave and at other locations. This test indicates a hydraulic connection exists between Key Cave and the proposed industrial site.
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USGS Numbered Series
Use of ground-water tracers to evaluate the hydraulic connection between Key Cave and the proposed industrial site near Florence, Alabama, 2000 and 2001