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27 September 2003

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Investigating Pollution from groundwater in Submarine Springs

The springs and aquifers of Florida are threatened by the run-off of fertilisers, herbicides and oil-residues. This polluted groundwater can then make its way into the sea via submarine springs. Researchers from the Florida Geological Survey are therefore investigating the volume of groundwater discharged into surface water, and monitoring the transfer of contaminants. The system they designed had to be economical and innovative, and so they were very pleased to discover Windmill software.

The researchers started by using aerial thermography to identify the submarine springs and sinkholes. This works because the groundwater is warmer than background water in winter, and cooler in summer. Once located the depth and position of the springs and sinkholes were logged, which is where Windmill came in.

Garmin GPS

The team used a Garmin GPSmap 168s to monitor the position of their boat and the depth of water underneath it. Windmill regularly took readings from the Garmin, recording the time, latitude, longitude, depth, temperature and speed at which the boat was travelling. After collection, the scientists converted the data to dbf format before creating bathymetry maps showing the contours of the seabed. Using these maps they could calculate the volume of mingled groundwater and surface water.

The detailed depth point data, which Windmill collected at sinkholes, let the team accurately model the shape of the vents. Windmill also enabled the scientists to determine the maximum depth at which they could use aerial thermography to detect springs.

Whilst Windmill was collecting bathymetry information, water quality was also being assessed. These readings were matched by the time-stamp to the position data acquired by Windmill. However, Windmill has the capabilities to automatically record data from the water quality meter and save all the information in one file.

In another part of the study, the geologists collected boat-towed resistivity readings. When this data is input into the software model, it is important to know the depths at which the readings were taken. The Geological Survey team again used Windmill for easy and accurate measurements.

The Windmill software is currently reduced from £145 to £50 and is available from our data acquisition shop.

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