Abstract

The Valley and Ridge Province (V&R) of the central Appalachians is rich in springs that support ecosystems, provide local water resources, and export water from the region. Although there has been extensive research on springs in the province, the focus has been on chemically variable karst springs. The purpose of this work is to identify common spring types found in the V&R based on an analysis of three regions. Three types of V&R springs are included in this comparison, and their relationship to more general classification systems is included. Headwater springs, located near ridge tops and along ridge flanks, are typically small, may be ephemeral, have localized flow paths, and are associated with siliciclastic units. Karst springs, generally located in the valleys, include both the more chemically variable limestone springs and the more stable dolomite springs. Thermal warm springs, with temperatures higher than the mean annual air temperature, are less common than the other spring types; they may be large and are typically associated with major thrust faults. The temperature, chemistry, and locations of the springs are controlled by the structural geology and topography as well as the formations and lithologies through which the recharge water travels. There is overlap in the water chemistry and storm responses of the spring groups, but some general trends can be identified, such as lower pH in the headwater springs. The V&R springs are critical resources, but their sustainability, chemistry, and hydrology need to be considered within the local geologic framework.

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