GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 121-9
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM-6:30 PM


FRANKS, Alexa, Geosciences, Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS 67601, SUMRALL, Jeanne Lambert, Geosciences, Fort Hays State University, Tomanek Hall, 600 Park Street, Hays, KS 67601; Geosciences, Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS 67601 and KAMBESIS, Patricia N., Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University, 1906 College Heights Blvd, Bowling Green, KY 42127

This study documents the impact of storm water infrastructure on the Hidden River Cave System. The cave system is located under the town of Horse Cave, Kentucky and is periodically affected by groundwater pollution from storm events and improper land use practices which affect groundwater quality and also the cave life within. Groundwater pollution in Hidden River Cave can be very high which leads to the need of proper control of substances entering the subsurface. This is where dye tracing can be extremely helpful because the flow paths of contaminant through the cave system can be tracked. The cave consists of a network of dendritic streams, canyons, and collapsed domes. The East River is the main waterway within the cave and can be accessed at the entrance of a collapsed sinkhole. The South River is a smaller stream within the cave that drains the southwest part of the groundwater basin via underground tributaries such as Kneebuster, Lover’s Lane, and Wheet River.

Seven charcoal dye receptors were placed within Hidden River Cave at pre-determined locations. Four different dyes were injected into four drains that are believed to drain into Hidden River Cave. This study documents the impact of storm drain infrastructure on the cave system via groundwater dye tracing and GIS to accurately the effect that storm drain infrastructure in Horse Cave has on the hydrology of Hidden River Cave by using groundwater dye-tracing and GIS to accurately represent the flow of the dye into the cave. A background study was conducted prior to dye injection using the same dye receptor placement locations. When the results from the background study were analyzed, the dye was then injected. After the dye has had ample time to flow through the waterways inside the cave, the dye receptors were collected and analyzed. This process was repeated 3 times. Dye was detected at each location where dye receptors were placed. A connection between the infrastructure of the Horse Cave city storm drains and the cave system was identified through this dye trace study.