Dye Trace Study of Karst Groundwater Flow at Mystery Spring and Wildcat Culvert in Lexington, Fayette County, Kentuciy
Northern Kentucky University
The main purpose of this study was to test connectivity from a sinkhole by William T. Young Library on the University of Kentucky’s campus to Mystery Spring (1.5 miles away) near RJ Corman Railroad in Town Branch, and measure groundwater velocity thereto. A secondary aspect of the study was to measure travel time from a storm drain at the bottom of the aforementioned campus sinkhole to “Wildcat Culvert” which discharges into Town Branch (100 meters downstream of Mystery Spring), and to observe if the two were connected. A map of the groundwater flow patterns in the area was published in 1996 based on mostly unpublished dye trace research. The last known work on Mystery Spring was conducted in 1989 by James Currens at Kentucky Geological Survey. In 1994, the William T. Young Library was built near the subject sinkhole that involved the construction of over 200 concrete and steel pylons, potentially disrupting the previous groundwater flow. In order to determine whether the construction affected karst conduits in the area, we conducted a second dye trace study in July of 2018 recreating, in many ways, the unpublished study from 1989. 90 grams of dye was injected into the two locations noted near the library (the sinkhole and a storm drain at the bottom of the razed sinkhole) and charcoal receptors, as well as an infrared probe, were placed at the predicted outflow points. Probe results at Mystery Spring were inconclusive but dye appeared in the charcoal receptors within 14 hours after injection at concentrations of 2.1 ppb. Eosine dye began appearing in visible quantities within 2 hours of the injection (6:00 p.m. on July 6th) at the outflow, “Wildcat Culvert,” which is connected to the storm drain. No connection was observed between the sinkhole and the storm drain.
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