Comparison of Flowpaths to a Well and Spring in a Karst Aquifer


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March 2007


The permeability of some karst aquifers consists of networks of poorly integrated conduits and dissolution‐widened fractures. The flow includes conduit flow, especially during storm recharge, but lacks the focused recharge into single master conduits that occurs in more highly developed karst systems. The proportions of conduit and dispersed flow are difficult to quantify in such systems. This study examines the flowpaths in a small karst watershed, based on comparing the physical and chemical response to storm flow at both a spring and a well. By conducting continuous monitoring at both locations, a better understanding of the flowpaths in a poorly integrated network was obtained. A more permeable flowpath to the spring leads to faster storm response and lower ion concentrations. The flowpath to and from the well is more complicated. The higher ion content and slower storm response suggest slower, more dispersed flowpaths. However, the well has greater variation in ion chemistry. Periodic recharge may dilute well concentrations due to faster (conduit or fracture) flowpaths. Although karst systems such as this are difficult to characterize, applying a variety of geochemical and physical monitoring techniques at multiple locations illustrates that the flowpaths can vary in both space and time.


Flow Path, Well, Spring, Karst Aquifer

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Groundwater, Vol. 45, no. 3 (2007-03-12).