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Karst Research at the Kentucky Geological Survey

The KGS strategy to karst geologic hazards is to provide warning so that adverse conditions can be avoided or remedied. This is accomplished through reports and other text media, such as this Web site, but primarily through mapping. An atlas is a compilation of many maps or plates that cover a geographic area; each of the maps for an area covers a different topic. The KGS approach is to compile a series of small-scale quadrangle maps that cover the entire karst of Kentucky. Each quadrangle is represented by one plate in the karst atlas, and each plate has various topics. To date, six maps showing karst groundwater basins in 30 x 60 minute quadrangles are available in paper form. This work was primarily funded through the Nonpoint-Source Section (319h) of the Clean Water Act. Major revisions of the Lexington and Harrodsburg quadrangle maps were made by conducting over 180 groundwater traces, funded through this program. The GIS coverages and PDF versions of the completed maps are available on this Web site.

KGS staff recently completed a study to create a series of maps depicting time-of-travel maps for traces to Royal Spring in Georgetown, the main water supply for Scott County. This study determined the length of time for injected tracers to arrive at Royal Spring under variable flow conditions from a finite set of injection points scattered across the watershed of the karst aquifer. The purpose of the study is to provide an estimate of how long it will take for a reported contaminant spill (of a water-soluble compound) to arrive at the spring. This allows the Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Service to better manage their water resources during a pollution incident.

The picture of Royal Spring in Scott County. It is the largest karst spring in the Inner Bluegrass, and drains an area of over 25 square miles. The spring is the water supply for the city of Georgetown. Photograph by James C. Currens
Royal Spring in Scott County is the largest karst spring in the Inner Bluegrass, and drains an area of over 25 square miles. The spring is the water supply for the city of Georgetown. Photograph by James C. Currens.

Online copies of many karst-related publications are at http://www.uky.edu/KGS/water/general/kasrt/karstgis.htm, or may be found by searching the KGS online list of publications {and performing a "main catalog search" for karst. Additional descriptions of current and recent karst research projects at KGS may be found at http://www.uky.edu/KGS/water/research/waterresearch.htm.