Southeastern Section - 61st Annual Meeting (1–2 April 2012)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 3:40 PM


FLOREA, Lee J., Department of Geological Sciences, Ball State University, 2000 W. University Ave, Muncie, IN 47306,

Sixteen sets of water samples and field measurements comprise bi-monthly data gathered from the Redmond Creek karst aquifer in southeast Kentucky spanning July 2010 through February 2011. Previous abstracts have considered the baseline geochemistry, isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen, and isotopes of dissolved organic and inorganic carbon. Concurrent cave surveys and geophysical investigations provide additional layers of data. Regional investigations of brine seeps and sulfate deposits in caves provide context. In this abstract, I consider the variation within these geochemical data using Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Specifically, I consider the co-variation of principle ion data, isotope ratios, field chemistry, and modeled discharge measurements within the output spring for this 1,900-ha karst aquifer.

PCA attempts to derive a linear combination of variables such that the maximum amount of data variation is explained using the smallest number of components (eigenvectors). Components with eigenvalues greater than one tend to explain significant variation and are therefore included in the final PCA. In this investigation, using SPSS as the software, I find two components that repeatedly arise with strong eigenvalues. For example, when considering spring discharge (Q), Ca, Mg, K, Na, Cl, NO3, SO4, and total alkalinity (Alk), PCA calculates that 55% of the variance can be explained by Q, Ca, Mg, K, NO3, and Alk. The second component, including Na, Cl, and SO4, explains 30.5% of the remaining variance. Comparing PCA results to time-series graphs of the original data, the first component corresponds to parameters that are directly proportional to discharge; they vary according to interaction time with bedrock, namely the dissolution of limestone by carbonic acid. The second component may be related to the entrainment of oil-field brines, a possibility considering that shallow sources of petroleum were exploited in Redmond Creek during the early 20th Century.