Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Additional Departmental Affiliation

Geography and Geology

Document Type



Daniel Boone National Forest plays a key role in preserving much of Kentucky’s karst regions, natural resources including timber, mineral deposits, and biodiversity, including over 300 species of concern. The health of these environments is determined by surface and groundwater streams in the forest, and karst systems are an integral environment where these systems are active. War Fork, a tributary to the Kentucky River in Jackson County, Kentucky, is a remote and understudied hydrologic system in the Daniel Boone National Forest that contains recreational and logging land uses. Due to karst areas being susceptible to contamination because of rapid water recharge rates and collection of precipitation and streamflow from the surface, identifying locations where surface water and karst features converge can diagnose these indicators of vulnerability.

In order to diagnose these direct indicators, GIS data was compiled to evaluate the many factors contributing to karst vulnerability. In order to better understand this vulnerability, a small-scale dye trace was completed using fluorescein dye in this region in order to track some of the karst groundwater flow paths. Three out of the four springs analyzed were confirmed to have a flow connection, asserting that there is prevalent vulnerability in this area. This model, reflected through the GIS data and dye trace data, confirms that vulnerable regions of this area, particularly near sinking streams and near in-cave epikarst recharge points. Recognizing these vulnerable hotspots is key to protecting these already sensitive environments from potential damage due to pollutants and can be brought into consideration when determining land management and use for karst regions.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Christopher Groves, Ph.D.


Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Monitoring | Hydrology