Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Mark Cable Rains, Ph.D.


Groundwater hydrology, Geochemical tracer, Desiccation crack, Perched aquifer, Preferential transport


The objective of this study was to use an applied tracer to study lateral ground water flow paths in the top ~0.5 m of clay settling areas (CSA) in order to gain better understanding of hydrologic connectivity of CSAs to the surrounding hydrologic systems. The study site was located on the non-operational Mosaic Fort Mead Mine property in Fort Meade, Polk County, Florida. This lateral tracer test study is a follow up from a vertical tracer test study performed at the same site location in 2007. The CSA is generally composed of a well developed, clay rich, subangular-blocky surface layer ~0-1.0m, which exhibits abundant desiccation cracks plus other macropores underlain by a massive, saturated, clay-rich sublayer from ~1.0-2.5 m. A bromide tracer was applied into an injected trench. All 60L of the applied tracer flowed out of the down gradient face of the trench quickly, over an eleven minute period.

The Bromide tracer was rapidly transported laterally and was detected as far as 16 m from the starting point just 24 hours after application, as well as in the inundated north pond adjacent to the study area. Bromide concentration distribution was not uniform over the study area during any time period, with an initial disorganized bromide pulse followed by secondary pulse concentrated on the north side of the sampling area. This spatial-temporal distribution of bromide indicates preferential flow through desiccation cracks or other macropores. Bromide concentrations in the north pond increased over time while pond stage fluctuated due to this shallow lateral macropore dominated flow in and out. Although it is most likely true that flow paths from the CSA to the adjacent hydrologic landscape during the wet season is dominated by rapid shallow lateral flow through macropores, specific flow paths, macropore length, diameter and distribution and fluxes still remain unquantified. Therefore, how the hydrology of CSAs affects the adjacent hydrologic landscape still remain unquantified.