2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


FRATESI, Beth, VACHER, H. Leonard and FLOREA, Lee, Department of Geology, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler, SCA 528, Tampa, FL 33620, sfratesi@mail.usf.edu

Over the past four years, the faculty, students, and alumni of the geology department at the University of South Florida (USF) have molded a tract of undeveloped land on the Tampa campus into a community education site focusing on karst. Tampa is built upon a mantled karst terrain, and local public interest in karst is fueled by sinkhole damage and water-resource issues concerning the Floridan Aquifer.

The geology faculty at USF have long used the site for education and research into mantled karst landscapes and hydrology, as well as geophysics. The alumni use the site for annual expositions of geological field equipment and techniques. Exhibitors at these events have installed many permanent monitoring wells in the Surficial and Floridan Aquifers and run numerous geophysical surveys across the sinkholes.

The GeoPark has several sinkholes, three large limestone boulders of Floridan Aquifer material, and a mulched trail with educational signs. A recent community education grant funded by the Southwest Florida Water Management District provided the resources to develop the signs.

Each sign highlights a different feature of the GeoPark and uses it to discuss the characteristics of karst landscapes and aquifers: “Hillsborough River Basin” orients visitors within the river basin using a collage of aerial photos of the Hillsborough River Basin; “Floridan Aquifer” explains the concept of an aquifer and the formation of caves; “Sinkholes” includes descriptions of sinkhole types, distributions, and techniques used to study them; and “Sources of Contamination” emphasizes the connectivity of the aquifer to the surface and lists potential sources of contamination.

The park and the signs are results of a combined effort by members of the local geological community, and faculty and students of USF.