Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

Degree Level





Phillip D. Hays

Committee Member

Ralph K. Davis

Second Committee Member

John V. Brahana


Buffalo National River, Geology, Hydrogeology


Margaret White Springs (MWS) is one of the largest springs in the middle section of the Buffalo National River (BNR) and contributes several tens of cubic feet per second of flow to river discharge on average, yet the source of the water has not been fully studied or documented. The spring is located approximately 4 miles downstream from Robertson Hole, a losing reach of the river. At Robertson Hole the river loses a significant amount of flow to groundwater, which during the dry season (summer) can be as much as 100%. Flow in the main channel is re-established at MWS; interestingly, the resurging discharge has been measured as exceeding that lost at Robertson Hole. Determination of recharge areas to MWS is critical for understanding the hydrology of the spring and management of water resources along the BNR middle reaches. The majority of the river watershed lies within the karst terrain of the Springfield and Salem Plateaus, and surface to subsurface flow is complex. Flow directions are difficult to predict, and groundwater flow paths often cross surface-water divides. Dye-tracing methods were performed during three storm events to try to determine flow paths and delineate the recharge area to MWS. The three dye-tracing tests took place in areas outside the local surface watershed for MWS to determine if flow paths were moving beneath topographic divides. The results of the dye-tracing tests provided no indication that the areas chosen for dye injection contribute water to MWS. Specific conductance measurements also were also taken at MWS and springs in the surrounding area, as well as the BNR at Robertson Hole. Mixing models using these data show a seasonal change in conductance values and indicate that not all MWS recharge originates at Robertson Hole, consistent with previous discharge measurement comparisons.