Data from Most Monitoring Wells in Limestone Terranes Are Irrelevant to Pollutant Detection but Reliable Monitoring Can Be Attained: Why and How

by James F. Quinlan, Natl Park Service, Mammoth Cave, KY, USA,
Ralph O. Ewers, Natl Park Service, Mammoth Cave, KY, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Environmental Engineering


The conventional system of using three or more monitoring wells placed down-gradient from a site and one or more background wells placed up-gradient from it is extremely unlikely to detect pollutants moving through conduits in bedrock of most limestone (karst) terranes. There is, however, an experience-based strategy for reliably monitoring sites in karst terranes: monitoring the springs and cave streams shown by dye-tracing to be draining the site. This strategy is applicable to much of that portion of the United States which is underlain by limestone and/or dolomite, approximately 20%. The latter system is described in detail. It is concluded that springs and wells drilled to intercept cave streams - rather than conventional randomly or conveniently located well - are the most logical, efficient, predictably reliable, and economical places to monitor for pollutants in most karst terranes.

Subject Headings: Limestone | Groundwater pollution | Water pollution | Pollution | System reliability | Karst | Groundwater flow | Wells (water) | United States

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