Locating and characterizing important springs of the Indiana Uplands

Status Start Date End Date Locations
Extended May 1, 2019 Apr 30, 2021 Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen,
Director: Tracy Branam
Other Researchers: Sarah Burgess, Chris Dintaman, Lee Florea, Sam Frushour, Matthew Johnson, Rebecca Meyer, Ben Romlein
Funding: Indiana University - Center for Rural Engagement
Issue: In southwest central Indiana (SWCI), springs where groundwater emerges have been historically important to communities as a source of drinking water and a resource for livestock, agriculture, and commercial enterprises. On this region’s karst landscape, riddled with sinkholes and caves and where surface water is scarce, springs became a community gathering spot. And owing to their underlying geology, certain mineralized springs arose as valuable economic resources, supporting the spa industry that peaked in the early 1900s. Because available water remains a chief limiting factor for the economic and human development in the SWCI region, it is important for us to understand the distribution and water quality in springs and how time has affected the quantity and quality of their water.
Objective: Scour publication archives for historical spring data dating back to 1901; visit 100 springs to sample water quality and compare these results to available historical data; use these data to develop and make available a geospatial database of springs; and develop a crowdsourcing geospatial tool to acquire information on springs and engage residents in communities throughout SWCI.
Approach: Identify high-priority springs based on geological, historical, environmental, and commercial criteria through communication with community stakeholders, and the current IGWS dataset. At each site visit, an IGWS team will collect a GPS location, flow measurements where feasible, and field chemistry data. Additional chemical analyses will be obtained from water samples at approximately 50 springs per year. A subset of these springs, numbering 25 per year, will be subjected to stable isotope analysis used to determine the source and type of water and oxidative properties of recharge. Develop two interoperable database systems, one for spring locations and associated metadata, and a second for water chemistry associated with each spring; linked through a geospatial portal relying on the cyberinfrastructure that operates IndianaMap, which is hosted on the IGWS website.
Products: A modernized springs database for the Indiana Uplands comprising verified locations and fully developed metadata that meet National Geophysical Data Center standards. This database can serve as a foundation for a statewide effort, hosted on IndianaMap or similar GIS portals. The spring locations in this geospatial database can link to other hosted data, in this case, the water quantity and quality data archived in historical studies and collected in this study. An element of user involvement is anticipated where portal users can enter a spring location, associated metadata, and quantity/quality data into a queue that, after review, will become part of the existing geospatial layer.
Benefits: The scope to which water and its quality links to environmental resiliency is particularly vital and strengthens the need for this work and the derivative interest generated from the deliverables. Through deliverable databases and geospatial portals, accumulated data will be shared with the SWCI community for digest and continued enhancement.