Hydrologic function of karst features in the uplands of the Edwards aquifer recharge zone-A veiw from the field

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Mass balance shows that most of the recharge into the Edwards aquifer occurs where major streams cross the Edwards recharge zone. However, the uplands contain abundant evidence of active karst dissolution, including sinkholes, caves, and solution-enlarged fractures. What is their hydrologic function? How much and what kind of protection do such features need as urbanization proceeds across the recharge zone? A series of measurements of infiltration comparing karst features with paired non-karst control plots using a large-diameter single-ring infiltrometer provide direct evidence of the hydrologic function of these features under undisturbed conditions. Selected karst features are small and include soil-floored sinkholes, sinkholes having cobble-filled drains, and an excavated solution cavity. We have tested eight pairs in the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards recharge zone and plan in the next phase of the study to measure similar features in the San Antonio area.


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