Deep time origins of sinkhole collapse failures in sewage lagoons in southeast Minnesota NCKRI Symposium 2: Proceedings of the Thirteenth Multidisciplinary Conference on Sinkholes and the Engineering and Environmental Impacts of Karst
NCKRI Symposium 2: Proceedings of the Thirteenth Multidisciplinary Conference on Sinkholes and the Engineering and Environmental Impacts of Karst
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University of South Florida
Three of the approximately twenty-three municipal wastewater treatment lagoons constructed in the 1970s and 1980s in southeastern Minnesota's karst region have failed through sinkhole collapse. Those collapses occurred between 1974 and 1992. All three failures occurred at almost exactly the same stratigraphic position. That stratigraphic interval, just above the unconformable contact between the Shakopee and Oneota Formations of the Ordovician Prairie du Chien Group is now recognized as one of the most ubiquitous, regional-scale, karst hydraulic high-transmissivity zones in the Paleozoic hydrostratigraphy of southeastern Minnesota. These karst aquifers have been developing multi-porosity conduit flow systems since the initial deposition of the carbonates about 480 million years ago. The existence of syndepositional interstratal karst unconformities between the Oneota and Shakopee Formations and between the Shakopee and St. Peter Formations, were recognized in the 1800s. About 270 million years ago galena, sphalerite and iron sulfides were deposited in pre-existing solution enlarged joints, bedding planes and caves. The region has been above sea level since the Cretaceous and huge volumes of fresh water have flowed through these rocks. The regional flow systems have changed from east-to-west in the Cenozoic, to north-to-south in or before the Pleistocene. The incision of the Mississippi River and its tributaries has and is profoundly rearranging the ground water flow systems as it varies the regional base levels during glacial cycles. The Pleistocene glacial cycles have removed many of the surficial karst features and buried even more of them under glacial sediments. High erosion rates from row crop agriculture between the 1850s and 1930s filled many of the conduit systems with soil. Over eighty years of soil conservation efforts have significantly reduced the flux of mobilized soil into the conduits. Those conduits are currently flushing much of those stored soils out of their spring outlets. Finally, the increased frequency and intensity of major storm events is reactivating conduit segments that have been clogged and inactive for millions of years. The karst solution voids into which the lagoons collapsed have formed over 480 million years. The recognition and mapping of this major karst zone will allow much more accurate karst hazard maps to be constructed and used in sustainable resource management decisions. -- Authors Open Access - Permission by Publisher See Extended description for more information.
Conference Proceeding; serial
Alexander, E. Calvin, Jr.; Runkel, Anthony C.; Tipping, Robert G.; and Green, Jeffrey A., "Deep time origins of sinkhole collapse failures in sewage lagoons in southeast Minnesota NCKRI Symposium 2: Proceedings of the Thirteenth Multidisciplinary Conference on Sinkholes and the Engineering and Environmental Impacts of Karst" (2013). KIP Talks and Conferences. 39.