Characterization of the spatial distribution of porosity in the eogenetic karst Miami Limestone using ground penetrating radar

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Gregory J. Mount1, Xavier Comas2, William J Wright2 and Matthew D McClellan3, (1)Indiana University of Pennsylvania Main Campus, GeoSciences, Indiana, PA, United States, (2)Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, United States, (3)Florida Atlantic University, GeoSciences, Boca Raton, FL, United States
Hydrogeologic characterization of karst limestone aquifers is difficult due to the variability in the spatial distribution of porosity and dissolution features. Typical methods for aquifer investigation, such as drilling and pump testing, are limited by the scale or spatial extent of the measurement. Hydrogeophysical techniques such as ground penetrating radar (GPR) can provide indirect measurements of aquifer properties and be expanded spatially beyond typical point measures. This investigation used a multiscale approach to identify and quantify porosity distribution in the Miami Limestone, the lithostratigraphic unit that composes the uppermost portions of the Biscayne Aquifer in Miami Dade County, Florida.

At the meter scale, laboratory measures of porosity and dielectric permittivity were made on blocks of Miami Limestone using zero offset GPR, laboratory and digital image techniques. Results show good correspondence between GPR and analytical porosity estimates and show variability between 22 and 66 %. GPR measurements at the field scale 10-1000 m investigated the bulk porosity of the limestone based on the assumption that a directly measured water table would remain at a consistent depth in the GPR reflection record. Porosity variability determined from the changes in the depth to water table resulted in porosity values that ranged from 33 to 61 %, with the greatest porosity variability being attributed to the presence of dissolution features. At the larger field scales, 100 – 1000 m, fitting of hyperbolic diffractions in GPR common offsets determined the vertical and horizontal variability of porosity in the saturated subsurface. Results indicate that porosity can vary between 23 and 41 %, and delineate potential areas of enhanced recharge or groundwater / surface water interactions.

This study shows porosity variability in the Miami Limestone can range from 22 to 66 % within 1.5 m distances, with areas of high macroporosity or karst dissolution features occupying the higher end of the range. Spatial variability in porosity distribution may affect ground water recharge, allowing zones of high porosity and thus enhanced infiltration to concentrate contaminants into the aquifer and may play a role in small and regional scale aquifer models.