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Establishing watershed boundaries is a critical stage in understanding the local water cycle. Drainage basins are typically identified by topographic divides; water flows to successively lower locations along the most direct path available. The karst terrain in Mammoth Cave National Park, however, presents additional challenges in identifying the boundaries of these basins. Underground drainages in the form of caves or conduits often do not correspond with surface topography. These passages can redirect water far from the most immediate surface release.
A dye trace study is designed to identify flow paths from the surface to springs along the Green River. Three surface sites were selected and injected with unique dyes. All three known springs in the area were monitored with activated charcoal filters to detect the re-emergence of dye after establishing background levels. Fluorescence analysis determines which dyes emerged at each spring.
This study seeks to establish the boundaries on a small drainage sub-basin near the Turnhole Bend area of Mammoth Cave National Park. This research will yield a higher level of resolution of hydrologic connectivity than the state-wide map from the Kentucky Geological Survey or the previous efforts of Mammoth Cave National Park.
Tholen, Jake, "Karst Sub-basin Delineation via Dye Trace Study near Turnhole Bend, Mammoth Cave National Park" (2017). Honors Theses. 2850.
Honors Thesis-Open Access