Florida spring classification system and spring glossary
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00094033/00001
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Title: Florida spring classification system and spring glossary
Physical Description: vi, 17 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Copeland, Richard Evan, 1947- ( Compiler )
Florida Geological Survey
Florida -- Division of Resource Assessment and Management
Donor: unknown ( endowment ) ( endowment ) ( endowment )
Publisher: Florida Geological Survey
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Fla.
Publication Date: 2003
Copyright Date: 2003
Subjects / Keywords: Springs -- Classification -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Groundwater -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: compiled by Rick Copeland.
General Note: Florida Geological Survey special publication 52
General Note: At head of title: State of Florida, Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Resource Assessment and Management, Florida Geological Survey.
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Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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The author dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law and all related or neighboring legal rights he or she had in the work, to the extent allowable by law.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 002940017
oclc - 52724353
notis - APH1647
issn - 0085-0640 ;
System ID: UF00094033:00001


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Florida Spring Classification System
and Spring Glossary




David B. Struhs, Secretary

Edwin J. Conklin, Director

Walter Schmidt, State Geologist and Chief



Compiled by Rick Copeland

Published by the
Florida Geological Survey
Tallahassee, Florida

Printed for the
Florida Geological Survey


ISSN 0085-0640




Tallahassee, Florida

The Florida Geological Survey, Division of Resource Assessment and Management,
Department of Environmental Protection, is publishing as Special Publication No. 52,
Florida Spring Classification System and Spring Glossary, compiled by Rick Copeland.

The publication is a result of the Florida Springs Initiative. It introduces a spring
classification system and glossary for use by the citizens of the state of Florida.
Hopefully, the classification system, as well as the glossary, will assist Floridians in
improving their overall understanding of the springs of the state and increase the
consistency in the usage of commonly used terms associated with our springs. The
information will be useful for the citizens, including the academic, scientific, and
engineering communities of the state.

Walter Schmidt, Ph.D.
State Geologist and Chief
Florida Geological Survey


Introduction and B background ....................................................... 1

Florida Spring Classification System ..................................... .........2

Florida Spring G lossary .................................................... 3

Glossary Introduction .................................... .........3

Special Term s ......................................................4

Glossary .................................................... ........ 5

References Cited .................... ............................. ........ 17

List of Figures


1. Alluvial Sinkhole ...................................... .......5

2. Cover-Subsidence Sinkhole ................... ............... ...............7

3. Rock-Collapse Sinkhole .............. ...............................

List of Tables


1. Florida's Spring Classification System ....................... ...........4

2. Spring Magnitude ............ ........................... ........ 13


Florida Spring Classification System
and Spring Glossary

Compiled by Rick Copeland, PG 126

Introduction and Background

In May 2002, a Florida springs workshop was held in Ocala, Florida. It was
sponsored jointly by the Hydrogeology Consortium, the Florida State University, and the
Florida Geological Survey (FGS). The purpose of the workshop was to provide a forum
to facilitate discussion among scientists, resource managers and the public regarding the
significance of springs as valuable natural systems. Springs must be preserved and
protected for the benefit of the ecology, environment, economic well being, and quality
of life in the state of Florida.

The workshop was divided into three panels: (1) Inventory of Springs in Florida,
(2) Delineation of Springshed Boundaries, and (3) Measures for Protecting and Managing
Florida Springs. Invited speakers discussed aspects of each panel theme and each panel
later split into breakout sessions to discuss the issues further. Finally, each panel made
recommendations to the larger group regarding panel themes. The workshop proceedings
(DeHan, 2002) were published by the Florida Geological Survey in compact disk format.

Included among the recommendations of the "Inventory of Springs in Florida"
panel was the need for the development of consistent terms as applied to spring usage in
Florida and the development of a spring database. The FGS agreed to take the lead in the
development of both.

As a result of recommendations from Panel 1, the FGS agreed to form a
committee to address spring nomenclature and to develop and maintain a spring database
to be used by the citizens of Florida. The purpose of this document is to present the
results of the deliberations of the nomenclature committee. A document describing the
spring database will be prepared and published separately.

The Florida Springs Nomenclature Committee (FSNC) was formed in the fall of
2002 and was made up of representatives from the FGS, the U.S. Geological Survey, the
state's water management districts, the state university system, the hydrogeological
consultant community, and the general public. The FSNC met on September 24, 2002,
on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. Thereafter, members communicated
with each other via e-mail throughout the fall of that year. The committee consisted of:

Rick Copeland, Florida Geological Survey, Chairman of the FSNC
Kyle Champion, SDII Global Inc.
Angela Chelette, Northwest Florida Water Management District
Tom Greenhalgh, Florida Geological Survey
Eric DeHaven, Southwest Florida Water Management District


Dave DeWitt, Southwest Florida Water Management District
Tim Hazlett, Hazlett-Kincaid Inc.
David Hornsby, Suwannee River Water Management District
Brian Katz, U.S. Geological Survey
Todd Kincaid, Hazlett-Kincaid Inc.
Gary Maddox, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Jon Martin, University of Florida
Harley Means, Florida Geological Survey
Doug Munch, St. Johns River Water Management District
Tom Pratt, Northwest Florida Water Management District
Tom Scott, Florida Geological Survey
William Shirling, Citizen
Rick Spechler, U.S. Geological Survey
David Toth, St. Johns River Water Management District
Sam Upchurch, SDII Global Inc.
Warren Zwanka, Suwannee River Water Management District

In addition to developing a glossary of terms, the FSNC also identified the need to
develop a spring classification system. The purpose of the classification system is to
allow the citizens of Florida to easily classify springs into one of a minimum number of
categories. It is hoped that the classification system, as well as the glossary, will assist
Floridians in improving their overall understanding of springs and to increase consistency
in the usage of terms associated with Florida's springs.

The following proposed spring classification system and spring glossary were
developed by the FSNC. They are offered as provisional working models to be tested by
Florida's citizens, with special emphasis on the hydrogeologic community.

Florida Spring Classification System

The proposed classification system is based on an assumption that karst activities
have influenced almost all springs in Florida. Thus the system is based on
geomorphology. Because of the simplicity of the system, the use of spring descriptors is
encouraged. Hopefully, the system will be simple to use and will allow all springs in
Florida to be categorized with little confusion.

Under the proposed system, all springs in Florida can be classified into one of
four categories, based on the spring's point of discharge. Is the point of discharge a vent
(see glossary) or is it a seep (see glossary), and is the point of discharge located onshore
or offshore? Since all springs are either vents or seeps, the classification can be
simplified into the following.

Vent Seep
Onshore Onshore
Offshore Offshore


Spring throat opening size is an extremely important characteristic of Florida
springs. The FSNC defines a spring vent (see glossary) as an opening that concentrates
ground-water discharge to the Earth's surface, including the bottom of the ocean. The
opening is significantly larger than that of the average pore space of the surrounding
aquifer matrix. As an example, a vent occasionally is considered to be a cave and
ground-water flow from the vent is typically turbulent. On the other hand, a spring seep
(see glossary) is one or more small openings in which water discharges diffusely (or
"oozes") from the ground-water environment. The diffuse discharge originates from the
intergranular porous spaces in the aquifer matrix. Flow is typically laminar.

FSNC members believe that chemical and flow characteristics of groundwater
discharging from offshore springs are typically very different from those discharging
onshore. The point of discharge of an onshore spring is landward of the mean low-tide
level, while the point of discharge of an offshore spring is considered to be seaward of
the mean low tide-level.

Regarding water chemistry, offshore springs typically have different chemical
characteristics than do onshore springs. As an example, concentrations of total dissolved
solids are significantly higher in groundwater discharging from offshore springs, as
compared to those located onshore (Champion and Starks, 2001; Scott et al., 2002).

With regard to the volume of ground-water flow, the effects of ocean tides
influence the discharge characteristics of offshore springs more than they do onshore
springs. For example, the discharge of groundwater from the offshore vents associated
with the Spring Creek Springs Group in Wakulla County can vary considerably,
depending on the tide stage. Ground-water discharge is significantly greater during low
tide, as compared to high tide. In fact, in some of the vents during high tide, water can
actually reverse flow (Lane, 2001; Rosenau et al., 1977). Although tides influence the
discharge and stage of certain onshore springs, compared to offshore springs the
influences are relatively minor.

It should be reiterated that, because of the simplicity of the proposed system,
descriptors should be used whenever possible when classifying a spring. Table 1 depicts

Florida Spring Glossary

Glossary Introduction

The FSNC believes that only a minimum number of terms should be included.
Most definitions used in the glossary were either taken or modified from the following
resources: (1) the Lexicon of Cave and Karst Terminology with Special Reference to
Environmental Karst Hydrology (Field, 1999), (2) the Dictionary of Geological Terms by
the American Geological Institute (AGI) (Bates and Jackson, 1984), (3) the Sinkhole
Glossary (SDII Global Corporation, 2002), and (4) Glossary of Karst Terminology


(Monroe, 1970). On occasion other sources were used and are noted in the glossary.
Often, the FSNC made its own definition, or modified definitions from the other sources.
If a definition was generated or significantly modified by the committee, it appears in the
glossary as (FSNC, 2003).

Table 1. Florida's Spring Classification System


Onshore Vent


Karst spring

(River Rise)

Estavelle (intermittent resurgence or

Subaqueous riverine vent

Subaqueous lacustrine vent

Offshore Vent


Offshore karst spring

Unnamed offshore vent

Offshore estavelle vent

Sand boil
Seep Onshore Seep Offshore Seep

Examples Examples

Subaerial riverine seep Unnamed offshore seep

Subaqueous lacustrine seep Offshore estavelle seep

Special Terms

The FSNC believes the meanings of key spring terms and an understanding as to
how they differ are extremely important for the hydrogeology community in its efforts to
better appreciate the dynamics of Florida's springs. These special terms (underlined in
the glossary) are listed below in alphabetical order:

karst window,
offshore spring,
onshore spring,
seep (or spring seep),
spring group,



spring magnitude,
spring run,
springshed (or spring recharge basin), and
vent (or spring vent).


alluvial sinkhole An alluvial sinkhole is an ancient or relict sinkhole (paleosinkhole) that has
been filled with soil and/or sediment. It may or may not have a surficial expression. See
also paleosinkhole and relict sinkhole (SDII Global Corp., 2002).


Sand Clay Limestone

Figure 1. Alluvial Sinkhole
(Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002)

artesian A modifier that describes a condition in which the potentiometric surface is above
elevation of the top of the aquifer (Modified from Field, 1999). It is synonymous with

aquifer A body of soil, sediment, or rock that is saturated with water and sufficiently
permeable to allow production of water from wells (SDII Global Corp., 2002).

blind valley A stream valley that terminates abruptly at a sinkhole, swallow hole, or swallet
(where the stream disappears underground) (SDII Global Corp., 2002).

caliche See duricrust.

-Watsr Table.... .
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.-. .. - - -. -. -- -- ... .. .. .
-, - -'
- - - -
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-'- -' -' -"" "."7 .':' ',:':' .' ' -' -' ---''- - ;- - -' ---

Z~~ ~~~ .. -- --'' I -- I. -.' lll l .-- / -





~ h


cave A natural underground opening or series of openings and passages large enough to be
entered by an adult person (Modified from Monroe, 1970).

cavern A cave or conduit system with larger than average size that has been created by the
dissolution of limestone or other soluble rock (SDII Global Corp., 2002).

cavernous porosity A pore system having large, cavernous openings; the lower size limit, for
field analysis, is practically set at approximately the smallest opening that an adult person
may enter (Field, 1999).

"chimney" sink A cover-collapse sinkhole that forms near a vertical shaft or "chimney",
typically developing where bedrock is near land surface.

These features are common in the Gainesville area of Florida (Modified from SDII
Global Corp., 2002).

collapse sinkhole A type of sinkhole formed by collapse of the cover materials (soil, sediment,
or rock) into an underground void created by the dissolution of limestone or dolostone.
See rock- collapse sinkhole and cover-collapse sinkhole (SDII Global Corp., 2002).

conduit; karst conduit Large dissolutional voids, including enlarged fissures and tabular

In some usage, the term is restricted to voids that are water-filled. Conduits may include
all voids greater than 10 mm (one cm) in diameter, but another classification scheme
places them between arbitrary limits of 100 mm to 10 m. Whichever value is accepted in
a particular context, smaller voids are commonly termed subconduits (Field, 1999).

conduit flow; karst conduit flow Underground water flow within conduits. Conduit flow is
generally turbulent, but can also be laminar (Field, 1999).

confined See artesian.

cover Materials consisting of soil, sediment, or rock that overlies the soluble rock (limestone,
dolostone etc.) in a karst terrane.

In Florida, the cover includes the sand and clay deposits that overlie the limestone
(Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002).

cover-collapse sinkhole A sinkhole formed by cover materials (sand, clay, etc.) traveling into a
void in the underlying limestone (Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002).

cover-subsidence sinkhole A collapse sinkhole that forms when the upper surface of the
limestone is dissolved away, and the cover materials slowly subside to occupy the space
once occupied by limestone.

Voids may not be well developed in cover-subsidence sinkholes because of the continued
downward movement of cover materials. See also solution sinkhole and sag depressions
(SDII Global Corp., 2002).


Figure 2. Cover-Subsidence SinkholeTa

(Modified from SDII Global Corp. 2002)

diffuse flow Ground-water flow conditions that are generally slow-moving, may be laminar
(Reynolds number much less than 1.0), has uniform discharge, and a slow response to
storms (Modified from Field, 1999).

discharge The rate of flow at a given instant in terms of volume per unit of time (Modified
from Bates and Jackson, 1984). It is synonymous with flux.
doline A bowl- or funnel-shaped hollow in limestone topography, ranging in diameter from
r ~ ~ ---- J -_________

a few meters to a kilometer, and in depth up to several hundred meters (Modified from
Monroe, 1970). A doline is synonymous with sinkhole

dolostone A sedimentary rock composed predominantly of the mineral dolomite
(Ca,Mg(CO3)2). While soluble, dolostone is less likely to contain well developed karst
features than limestone (Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002)

duricruse flow A deposit of precipitated minerals, mainly care genealcite, formed in the soil or near-surface
layereynos in arid number much less than 1.0), has uniforizon where ascendant capillary water
storms (Modified from Field, 1999).

discharge The rate of flow at a given instant in terms of volume per unit of time (Modified

evaporom Bates and Jackson, 1984). It is synonymous with flux.
doline A bowl- or funnel-shaped hollow in limestone topography, ranging in diameter from
a few meters to a kilometer, and in depth up to several hundred meters (Modified from
Monroe, 1970). A doline is synonymous with sinkhole.

In lostone A sedimentary rainfall ancomposed intense evaporation may form similar sedolomi-concreted
(Ca,Mg(Csoils within). While soluble, dolostone is less likely to contain well developed karst1999).
features than limestone (Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002).

duricrust A deposit of precipitated minerals, mainly calcite, formed in the soil or near-surface
layers in arid or semi-arid zones at the horizon where ascendant capillary water
evaporates and salts held in solution are deposited.

In Florida, seasonal rainfall and intense evaporation may form similar semi-concreted
soils within the epikarst (Modified from Field, 1999).


epikarst 1. The zone of weathering that penetrates the upper surface of a limestone stratum.
Weathering of limestone results in development of rubble, fine-grained, carbonate-rich
silt, clay, and karren (including pinnacles and valleys in the limestone rock surface)
(Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002). 2. An intensely dissolved zone consisting of
an intricate network of intersecting roofless, dissolution-widened fissures, cavities, and
tubes dissolved into the uppermost part of the carbonate bedrock.

The dissolution features in the epikarst zone are organized to move infiltrating water
laterally to down-gradient seeps and springs or to collector structures such as shafts that
conduct the water farther into the subsurface (Huntoon, 2002).

estavelle 1. A spring that reverses flow because of relative changes in the elevation of ground-
water potentials and stream stage (SDII Global Corp., 2002). 2. An intermittent spring
resurgence or exsurgence, active only in wet seasons (Modified from Field, 1999).

Generally, an estavelle is located near streams or rivers. When the water level of the
stream is high (e.g. during flood stage), surface water directly recharges the aquifer.

exsurgence A spring or seep in karstic terrane not clearly connected with swallets (orponors)
at a higher level (Field, 1999).

fissure Any discontinuity within the rock mass that is either initially open or capable of being
opened by dissolution to provide a route for water movement.

Fissures in this sense, applied generally in karst, therefore include the primary
sedimentary bedding planes as well as tectonic faults and joints. More specifically, the
term has been used to describe voids with an average width dimension of 10 to 100 mm
(Modified from Field, 1999).

fracture Cracks formed in soils, sediment or rocks by natural stresses.

In Florida, many fractures have been developed to relieve stress caused by Earth tides
(SDII Global Corp., 2002). It is synonymous with joint.

fracture trace A confirmed pattern observed through remote sensing (aerial photography or
satellite imagery) that owes its origin to jointing or fracturing in the underlying soils,
sediments, or bedrock. See photolineament (SDII Global Corp., 2002).

grotto A cave chamber or room preceded by a narrower passage (Modified from Field, 1999).

joint See fracture.

karren Features that develop on the upper surface of a limestone or other soluble rock
as it is weathered.

These features are prevalent in the Quilin area in China and in western Ireland. In Ireland
they are sometimes referred to as burren. In Florida, karren are usually buried under the
cover materials and consists of pinnacles and depressions in the rock surface. The
depressions may or may not be related to sinkhole activity (Modified from SDII Global
Corp., 2002).


karst A term describing landforms that have been modified by dissolution of soluble rock
(limestone or dolostone) (Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002).

karst terrane A terrane, generally underlain by limestone or dolostone, in which the
topography is chiefly formed by the dissolution of rocks, and which may be characterized
by sinkholes, sinking streams, closed depressions, subterranean drainage, and caves
(FSNC, 2003).

karst window 1. A depression opening that reveals portions of a subterranean flow, or the
unroofed portion of a cave (a vertical window). 2. An opening in natural limestone walls,
formed by the joining of subterranean karst grottos as a result of dissolution processes (a
horizontal window). Both terms are modified from Field (1999).

Note also that the FSNC believes that flow through an exposed conduit in the aquifer is
different from flow onto the Earth's surface. For this reason, the FSNC does not consider
a karst window to be a spring. It is an exception to the definition of a spring (See spring).

karstic aquifer An aquifer containing soluble rocks with a permeability structure that includes
abundant interconnected conduits dissolved from the host rock.

The interconnected conduits are organized and facilitate the circulation of fluid in the
down-gradient direction, wherein the permeability structure evolved as a consequence of
dissolution by fluid (Modified from Huntoon, 1995).

laminar flow Flow in which the head loss is proportional to the first power of velocity.

Water flowing in a laminar manner will have streamlines that remain distinct and that
flow direction at every point remains unchanged with time. Darcy's Law strictly applies
under laminar flow conditions only (Modified from Field, 1999).

limestone A sedimentary rock primarily composed of the mineral calcite (CaCO3). Limestone
is soluble and often develops karst features when weathered (Modified from SDII Global
Corp., 2002).

magnitude See Spring magnitude.

nonartesian A condition in which the upper surface of the zone of saturation forms a water
table under atmospheric pressure.

The term is synonymous with unconfined (Field, 1999).

offshore spring The point of discharge of the spring is seaward of the mean low-tide level
(FSNC, 2003).

onshore spring The point of discharge of the spring is landward of the mean low-tide level
(FSNC, 2003).

overflow stream A stream valley that is down gradient of a swallow hole, swallet, or blind
valley and that carries water only when the recharge capacity of the swallow hole is


In Florida, the term is sometimes used to identify an overflow, or paleo-overflow, stream
valley (Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002).

paleokarst This term describes either an ancient karst terrane or the presence of features
associated with an ancient karst terrane.

The term is used to describe old sinkholes and other karst features that are no longer
actively forming. In west-central Florida, the term is used to refer to sinkholes that
formed decades to millions of years ago and are no longer active (Modified from SDII
Global Corp., 2002).

paleosinkhole An ancient sinkhole that is no longer active.

See relict sinkhole and alluvial sinkhole (SDII Global Corp., 2002).

photolineament A natural linear feature on the land surface that has been identified from aerial
photographs or other images.

Photolineaments are identified by alignments within or between lakes and wetlands,
sinkholes, stream segments, soils, and vegetation patterns. Photolineaments are also
known as photolinears. Note that photolinears may or may not represent geologic
features, so the term is not synonymous with fracture trace. See fracture trace (Modified
from SDII Global Corp., 2002).

pipe In karst terminology, it is a semi-circular conduit through which water and soil can pass.

Pipes are often nearly vertical and they have steep (nearly vertical) sides (SDII Global
Corp., 2002).

polje A large flat-bottom sinkhole complex formed by the coalescence of several smaller

Poljes are flat-bottomed because of subsequent sedimentation, usually by a lake. Payne's
Prairie in Alachua County is an example (Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002).

ponor Hole in the bottom or side of a closed depression through which water passes to
or from an underground channel (Field, 1999). It is synonymous with swallow hole.

traveling Raveling is the process by which water transports soil particles downward into cavities
in the underlying strata. Because sand is typically damp and the grains are angular, in
Florida they do not easily ravel without moving water.

Because of their cohesiveness, clay-rich strata are more difficult to ravel than sandy soils
(SDII Global Corp., 2002).

relict sinkhole A relict (or relic) sinkhole is an ancient sinkhole that is no longer active.

It may be expressed as a sinkhole lake, depression in the land surface, or loose soils in the
subsurface. See paleosinkhole and alluvial sinkhole (Modified from SDII Global Corp.,


resurgence re-emergence of groundwater through a karst feature, a part or all of whose waters
are derived from surface inflow into ponors at higher levels (Modified from Field, 1999).

river rise see resurgence (Field, 1999).

rock-collapse sinkhole A collapse sinkhole formed when the limestone, or other soluble rock,
cavern ceiling fails and collapses into a void (Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002).

Sand 1 Clay Limestone

Figure 3. Rock-Collapse Sinkhole
(Modified from SDII Global Corp. 2002)

rubble In the context of karst, rubble describes the gravel-like debris that forms as limestone is
weathered (Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002).

sag depression A sag depression is often the surficial manifestation of a solution or cover
subsidence sinkhole.

As the underlying bedrock is dissolved away, the cover materials slowly sag, creating a
depression. Owing to the shallow water table, sags often become small, circular wetlands
(SDII Global Corp., 2002).

sand boil A spring in which the vent has been filled in with sand.

Spring discharge continuously suspends the sand particles that cover the spring. Thus the
spring has a "boiling" appearance (FSNC, 2003).


seep 1. To move slowly through small openings of a porous material (Field, 1999). 2. With
regard to springs in Florida, a seep is also a noun that infers one or more small openings
in which water discharges diffusely ("oozes") from the ground-water environment.

Discharge is from intergranular pore spaces in the matrix and flow is typically laminar
(FSNC, 2003).

seepage The infiltration or percolation of water through rock or soil to or from the Earth's
surface and is usually restricted to the very slow movement of groundwater (Field, 1999).

sink See sinkhole.

sinkhole A landform created by subsidence of soil, sediment, or rock as underlying strata
are dissolved by ground water.

Sinkholes can form by collapse into subterranean voids created by dissolution of
limestone or dolostone or by subsidence as these strata are slowly dissolved away
(Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002).

siphon 1. In speleology, a cave passage in which the ceiling dips below a water surface
(Monroe, 1970). 2. A flooded cave passage. A gallery (conduit) in the form of a "U" with
water moving only under pressure when the siphon is completely filled (Field, 1999). 3.
Site and origin of an intermittent spring; section of a flooded cave or sump flooded
passage (Field, 1999).

soil piping Laterally limited, vertical areas of loose soil often caused by downward vertical
movement of the soil traveling) See pipe (Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002).

solution sinkhole Sinkhole formed by the slow subsidence of soil or sediment as the upper
surface of the underlying, water-soluble sediment or rock is removed by dissolution. See
cover-subsidence sinkhole (SDII Global Corp., 2002).

source aquifer The aquifer from which the water in a spring originates (FSNC, 2003).

spring A point where underground water emerges onto the Earth's surface (including the
bottom of the ocean).

The image of a trickle of water springing from a hillside hardly matches that of a vast
cave pouring forth a river, but both are called springs. Springs may be exsurgences or
resurgences, depending upon the source of their water. They may also be part-time
exsurgences and part-time resurgences. In some usages "spring" is restricted to the water
that outflows, in other usages the word can refer to the water, the outlet, or the locality of
the outflow (Field, 1999).

Note that the FSNC believes that flow through an exposed conduit in an aquifer is
different from flow onto the earth's surface. For this reason, the FSNC does not consider
a karst window to be a spring. It is an exception to the definition of a spring.

spring boil Variable discharge from a spring in which hydrostatic pressure is great enough to
cause a turbulent discharge (Modified from Field, 1999).


spring complex See Spring Group. The FSNC encourages the use of spring group and
discourages the use of this term.

spring group A collection of individual spring vents and seeps that lie within a discrete spring
recharge basin (or springshed).

The individual vents and seeps of onshore spring groups almost always share a common
spring run, or a tributary to the run. Spring group vents and seeps are often spread over
an area of several square miles.

It should be emphasized that the term spring group will be restricted to those vents and
seeps that discharge a well-defined spring recharge basin. The spring vents or seeps
within a springshed may be referred to as springs. As an example, the Rainbow Springs
Group will include several spring vents that drain the Rainbow Springs Group basin, and
discharge into the Rainbow River spring run.

Note that a spring recharge basin is defined only by potentiometric data and not by
chemical or other physical characteristics of the spring discharge. However, chemical
and additional physical data can, and should, be used to better define individual spring
vent basins within a spring group basin. This type of mapping was conducted for the
Rainbow Springs Group in Marion County by Jones et al., (1996).

All springsheds have not been mapped. Therefore, if a springshed is not mapped, then it
is acceptable to use the term "springs" to refer to multiple vents discharging into a
common spring run.

spring magnitude A category based on the volume of flow from a spring per unit time.

The classification system (Table 2) used in Florida is based on Meinzer (1927).

Table 2. Spring Magnitude

Magnitude Metric Units English Units
1 > 2.832 cms > 100 cfs (> 64.6 mgd)
2 > 0.283 to 2.832 cms > 10 tol00 cfs (> 6.46 to 64.6 mgd)
3 > 0.028 to 0.283 cms > 1 to 10 cfs (> 0.646 to 6.46 mgd)
4 > 0.0063 to 0.028 cms > 100 gpm to 1 cfs (> 100 to 448gpm)
5 > 0.631 to 6.308 lps> 10 to 100 gpm
6 > 0.063 to 0.631 lps> 1 to 10 gpm
7 > 0.473 to 3.785 1pm > 1 pint/min to 1 gpm
8 < 0.473 1pm < 1 pint/min


cubic meters per second
cubic feet per second
million gallons per day
gallons per minute

lps = liters per second
pint/min = pints per minute
1pm = liters per minute

Notes regarding magnitude One discharge measurement is enough to place a spring into one


of the eight magnitude categories. However, springs have dynamic flows. A spring
categorized as being a first-magnitude spring at one moment in time may not continue to
remain in the same category. Therefore, the magnitude of the spring is to be based on the
median value of all discharge measurements for the period of record (FSNC, 2003). The
median of a set of scores is the middle value when the scores are arranged in increasing
(or decreasing) order (Modified from Triola, 1998).

It is recognized that historically, many springs in Florida have kept one magnitude
category, even though the discharge may have changed considerably from when it was
first assigned a magnitude. For this reason, a historical category is acceptable in the
Florida Springs Classification System. For example, the discharge of a spring may have
been taken in 1946. At that time it was classified as a first-magnitude spring. No other
measurement was taken until 2001. During that year, three discharge measurements were
taken. The median value of all four measurements reveals that the spring should be re-
classified to a second-magnitude spring in 2001. Nevertheless, it can still be considered a
historical first-magnitude spring. The term "historical" refers to the period of time prior
to the adoption of the Florida Springs Classification System (2003).

The location of a discharge measurement is critical for defining the magnitude of a
spring. Whenever possible, a discharge measurement should be restricted to a vent or
seep. However, this is often impractical. For example, the only place to take a
measurement may be in a spring run downstream where multiple springs have discharged
into the run. For this reason, whenever a discharge measurement or water sample is
taken, the springs (vents or seeps) included in the measurement need to be reported. The
exact location of the discharge measurement (using a Global Positional System with
approved locational specifications) and a standardized locational reference point for each
measurement is encouraged.

spring pool A small body of water, either artificially impounded or naturally occurring, that
encompasses one or more spring vents.

It contains spring discharge that flows into a spring run (FSNC, 2003).

spring recharge basin Those areas within ground- and surface-water basins that contribute to
the discharge of the spring. The position of the divide is orthogonal to isopotential lines
(Hydrogeology Consortium, 2002). It is synonymous with springshed.

Note that the position of the recharge basin boundary is time dependent. That is, the
boundary is representative of a "snapshot" in time, rather than permanent. Thus, the
boundaries of springsheds are dynamic and vary as a result of a changing potentiometric
surface. If a spring is found to drain one springshed during times of high potentiometry,
and another basin during low times, then the spring should be connected with two spring
basins in the spring database (FSNC, 2003).

Whenever practical, descriptive aspects of the recharge basin should be noted in the
spring database. The following are examples. The relative recharge to groundwater
within the basin should be noted. Those portions of the basin where confined and
unconfined ground-water conditions exist should also be recorded. Finally, groundwater
vulnerability within the springshed should be noted if possible. A potential tool to
predict vulnerability is the Florida Aquifer Vulnerability Assessment (FAVA) model
(Baker et al., 2002).


spring run 1. A body of flowing water that originates from a karst spring (Field, 1999).
2. A stream (river, creek, etc.) whose primary (>50%) source of water is from a spring,
springs, or spring group (FSNC, 2003).

For example, the Wakulla River, where the predominant source of water is from Wakulla
Spring, is a spring run. However, farther down stream, where surface water tributaries,
contribute 50% or greater of the flow, the Wakulla River is no longer considered a spring
run. A detailed hydrogeologic (e.g., the collection of discharge and seepage data) study
may be needed in order to identify boundaries of a spring run (FSNC, 2003).

spring seep See seep.

spring vent See vent.

springs Multiple spring vents or seeps located in proximity to each other.

The usage of this term is discouraged, but for pragmatic reasons, it cannot be entirely
dropped. For example, several vents may discharge into a common spring run and the
collection of scientific data (e.g. water samples or discharge measurements) cannot be
obtained from individual vents located in the run. However, it may be practical to obtain
a composite water sample or composite flow measurement representing several vents.
Under this situation, the term springs is acceptable. However, a list of each vent or seep
represented by the composite sample should be recorded by the sampler, and ultimately
placed into the spring database (FSNC, 2003).

steephead A deeply cut valley, generally short, terminating at its upslope end in an
amphitheater, at the foot of which a stream may emerge (e.g., ocean, lake, river, or
stream) (Field, 1999) .

springshed See spring recharge basin.

subaqueous spring A spring that discharges below the surface of a water body (Field, 1999).

The term infers a pre-existing receiving surface-water body and is synonymous with
submerged (FSNC, 2003).

submerged See subaqueous.

submarine spring See offshore spring.

swallet See swallow hole.

swallow hole A place where water disappears underground in a limestone region.

A swallow hole generally implies water loss in a closed depression or blind valley,
whereas a swallet may refer to water loss into alluvium at a streambed, even though there
is no depression (Field, 1999).

tidal spring A spring whose discharge is controlled by tidal cycles.


Near the coast, tidal springs may alternately discharge saline and fresh water. Inland, the
pattern of fresh water discharge may simply reflect tidal changes in the potentiometric
surface (SDII Global Corp., 2002).

turbulent flow The flow conditions in which inertial forces predominate over viscous forces
and in which head loss is not linearly related to velocity.

It is typical of flow in surface-water bodies and subsurface conduits in karst terranes,
provided that the conduits have a minimum diameter of approximately 2-5 mm, although
some research suggests that 5-15 mm may be more appropriate (Modified from Field,

trace See overflow stream (SDII Global Corp., 2002).

uvala Large, complex sinkholes with irregular bottoms, formed by the coalescence of several
smaller closed depressions.

The bottom of an uvala is characterized by multiple sinkholes and an irregular bottom
(Modified from SDII Global Corp., 2002).

unconfined See nonartesian.

vent An opening that concentrates ground-water discharge at the Earth's surface, including the
bottom of the ocean.

The spring point of discharge is significantly larger than that of the average pore space in
the surrounding rock and is often considered a cave or fissure. Flow from the opening is
mostly turbulent (FSNC, 2003).


References Cited

Baker, A.E., Cichon, J.R., Arthur, J.D., and Rains, G.L., 2002, Florida aquifer vulnerability
assessment: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 34, no. 6, p. 346.

Bates, R.L., and Jackson, J.A., (eds.), 1984, Dictionary of Geological Terms, third ed.: prepared
for the American Geological Institute, Garden City, NJ., Anchor Press/Doubleday,
571 p.

Champion, K.M., and Starks, R., 2001, The Hydrology and Water Quality of Springs in West-
Central Florida: Brooksville, FL, Southwest Florida Water Management District Report,
148 p.

DeHan, R.S., Compp.), 2002, Workshop to Develop Blue Prints for the Management and
Protection of Florida Springs Proceedings, Ocala, FL., May 8-9, 2002: Florida
Geological Survey Special Publication 51, Compact Disk.

Field, M.S., 1999, A Lexicon of Cave and Karst Terminology with Special Reference to
Environmental Karst Hydrology: Washington, D.C., U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency/600/R-99/006, National Center for Environmental Assessment-Washington
Division, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
195 p.

Huntoon, P.W., 1995, Is it appropriate to apply porous media groundwater circulation models
to karst aquifers?, in Aly El-Kadi ed., Groundwater Models for Resources Analysis
and Management: Boca Raton, FL, Lewis Publishers, p. 339-358.

Jones, G.W., Upchurch, S.B., and Champion, K.M., 1996, Origin of Nitrate in Ground Water
Discharging from Rainbow Springs, Marion County, Florida: Brooksville, FL, Southwest
Florida Water Management District Report, 155 p.

Lane, E., Spring Creek Submarine Springs Group, Wakulla, County, Florida: Florida Geological
Survey Special Publication 47, 34 p.

Meinzer, O.E., 1927, Large Springs in the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply
Paper 557, 94 p.

Monroe, W.H., 1970, A Glossary of Karst Terminology: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply
Paper 1899, 26 p.

Rosenau, J.C., Faulkner, G.L., Hendry, C.W., and Hull, R.W., 1977, Springs of Florida: Florida
Geological Survey Bulletin 31 (Revised), 461 p.

Scott, T.M., Means, G.H., Means, R. C., and Meegan, R.P., 2002, First Magnitude Springs of
Florida: Florida Geological Survey Open File Report 85, 138 p.

SDII Global Corporation, 2002, Glossary of Terms: Tampa, FL, SDII Global Corporation, 9 p.

Triola, M.F., 1998, Elementary Statistics, 7th ed: Reading, MA., Addison-Wesley, 791 p.