Graduation Year

2006

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Geography

Major Professor

Robert Brinkmann, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Mark R. Hafen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Graham A. Tobin, Ph. D.

Keywords

phosphate mining, aerial photos, west-central Florida, Bone Valley, reclamation

Abstract

West-central Florida has supplied much of the national and global demand for phosphate for over 100 years. The two main tributaries of the Alafia River, the North and South Prongs, have been extensively modified by the strip mining, benefaction, and chemical processing activities associated with the phosphate mining industry. Using aerial photos, an analysis of landscape change in the South Prong Alafia River drainage basin (357.4 km2) between 1940, 1970, and 2004 was conducted. A modified Florida Land Use, Land Cover, and Forms Classification System code (FLUCCS) was used to classify and measure change through the study period. Change in the study area is characterized by a dramatic decline in the area covered by natural lands and an increase in the area covered by anthropogenic activity. Increasing 43.8 km2 from 1940 -- 1970 and 199.96 km2 from 1970 -- 2004, phosphate mining activity is the primary force of landscape alteration in the study area. The historic headwaters of the main stream, Hooker's Prairie, is completely replaced by mining-induced landforms in 2004. Net change in landscape composition from 1940 -- 2004 is 1) phosphate mining (+243.76 km2), 2) surface hydrology (-113.13 km2), 3) urban (+2.42 km2), agriculture (+19.76 km2), and undisturbed / other (-139.66 km2). The results of this study indicate that the regional environment and hydrology have been heavily impacted by phosphate mining activity. The critical management of the industry's environmental impacts and reclamation practices is essential for the current and future health of the local environment and its inhabitants.

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