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Dear FGS Friends and Customers,

Our Spring issue brings news of growth and collaboration at the FGS. Our internship program has a full head of steam as several of our volunteer students are now on board as paid temporary staff supporting mapping and database-related projects. Our collaborative research continues, as seen in two articles describing FGS work with water management districts, as well as our new and improved map portal summarizing FGS current projects. Most of these projects are in partnership with other agencies.

Spring is also when the FGS recognizes its top performers, and among our award recipients is FGS Employee of the Year, Michelle Ladle. With her BS in Geology, MS in Civil Engineering and MBA, Michelle brings her knowledge and talents into many corners of our agency. Congratulations Michelle!

In closing, it is with sadness that I share news of the passing of an exemplary FGS leader, mentor and friend, Dr. Walt Schmidt. Walt served as Florida’s fifth State Geologist since FGS inception in 1907. In 2007, he was recognized as the nation’s longest sitting State Geologist. Walt’s distinguished 34 year career changed the course of applied geosciences in Florida to help address environmental concerns and human health and safety issues. He will be missed by scores of geoscientists across the state and nation.


Jonathan D. Arthur, Ph.D., P.G.
Director and State Geologist
Office of the Florida Geological Survey
Florida Department of Environmental Protection

In This issue Bar

•GEOFACT - Florida Groundwater: Really Cool Deep Down   More…

•FGS Paleontological Activities More…

•Top Performers Recognized    More…

•FGS Releases New Report of Investigations   More…

•Internship Program Gains Momentum More…

•FGS Project Map Now On Web More…

•FGS Provides Support to SRWMD Aquifer Recharge Project More…

•In Memoriam: Dr. Walter Schmidt    More…

•See Previous Editions Of FGS News And Research More…

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Florida Groundwater: Really "Cool" Deep Down

Cross section in southern Florida. Most of Florida’s shallow groundwater maintains year-round temperatures of about 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (F). These temperatures typically increase with depth due to geothermal heating, but interesting anomalies occur in some areas, particularly southern Florida. Instead of having a normal geothermal gradient, or positive temperature increase with depth, of about one degree F for every 75 feet of depth, portions of the southeastern peninsula’s subsurface actually get cooler with depth. How can this be?

Some geologists theorize that cool (45 degrees F) seawater enters very porous carbonates in the lower Floridan aquifer system along the seaward edges of the Florida Platform. Incoming seawater is warmed by geothermal conduction through, in southern Florida, the underlying Cedar Keys Formation. As it is warmed, the seawater rises setting up convection currents which circulate saline water back seaward. It likely mixes with and entrains cooler freshwater in the process. This effectively maintains a cooling circulation within the Floridan aquifer system, which attenuates the thermal gradient down to a depth of about 4,000 feet. Below this depth, a more normal temperature gradient is hypothesized to resume. 

The warm, recirculating saline water is thought to discharge through offshore submarine springs, such as Mud Hole Spring, a large sinkhole in the seafloor 12 miles off Collier County in the Gulf of Mexico. Water issuing from this spring has been measured at nearly 97 degrees F. Interestingly, Warm Mineral Springs, an onshore sinkhole spring in Lee County, is probably also the result of deep, geothermally-heated saline water rising through vertical joints in the regional bedrock and reaching the shallow subsurface caves feeding the spring . Several localized groundwater hotspots in southwestern Florida, indicated by abnormally high aquifer temperatures, may occur through a similar process.

Contact person/info: Dr. Jonathan Arthur 

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FGS Participates in 10th North American Paleontological Convention and Makes Fossil Donations to a Newly Established Museum

Mollusk fossils in shell pit

The 10th North American Paleontological Convention  was held February 15th - 18th at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) in Gainesville. Harley Means from the Florida Geological Survey participated as a member of the organizing committee as well as a co-leader for a pre-meeting field trip to several famous fossil localities in northwest Florida. The event was well attended by professional and amateur paleontologists from around the world. Topics discussed at the convention ranged from the latest discoveries of dinosaur fossils to the celebration of public participation in paleontology. The FLMNH holds one of the largest fossil collections in the US which includes fossils that were once housed at the Florida Geological Survey.  For more information on the convention see:

The Florida Geological Survey recently made a large donation of fossil specimens to the Marco Island Historical Society. The fossils were collected from a fossil shell mine in Sarasota County and from the bed of the Wakulla River in Wakulla County. The donation included 225 invertebrates (mollusks and echinoids) as well as 24 vertebrate specimens. The beautifully preserved fossils range in age from several million years to approximately 10,000 years old. These fossils were collected by Assistant State Geologist Harley Means who collaborated with the FLMNH to arrange the fossil donation. The fossils will go on display in the Marco Island Historical Museum and will be available to researchers for future study. Florida’s rich fossil deposits are world renowned and specimens are on display in museums across the state, country and world.

Contact person/info: Guy Means 

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FGS Director Dr. Jon Arthur and Michelle Ladle

At the recent FGS Awards Luncheon held at the Maclay Gardens Pavilion, top performers at FGS were honored for their achievements during 2013.  

Michelle Ladle, P.G., was honored as the Employee of the Year for 2013. She has brought the FGS years forwards in digital capability, including production of the first interactive web-CD products for the Coastal Group. This past year, she designed, launched, and improved on the first digital well data entry program. She also created a Microsoft Access database for FGS well log descriptions. In addition to all of this, she has spearheaded the well database QA/QC, geophysical log storage, organization and access, and she assists in running the FGS Internship Program.

Engineering Specialist Wade Stringer was honored with the Sustained Exemplary Performance Award for his work in piloting FGS vessels to port, hauling in equipment, maintaining boats, and coming up with solutions for safe deployment. He has worked on projects over the years with the Florida Marine Research Institute, the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

An Individual Extra Effort Award was given to Lee Hartman, Lab Technician, who started at FGS as an Intern. Due to his exemplary work during 2013, he was hired to work on the National Park Service grant project. He proved to have great skill and versatility working with digital imagery interpretation and geodatabase structure. He also trained another employee in aerial photo interpretation. Hartman spearheaded the FGS’ efforts in using PCI Geomatica’s ORTHOENGINE software as part of a Natural Resources Imagery Grant. He also aided in the upkeep and QA/QC of the FGS’s wells database, and volunteered to help the FGS Drilling Operations Team when they needed assistance.

Levi Hannon, Environmental Specialist, was also awarded an Individual Extra Effort Award. He is known for his diligence in working on the STATEMAP Project. However, Levi went above and beyond by showing great capability doing field work during 2013 by assisting in drilling cores at Long Leaf Pine Preserve, Heart Island, Fort Matanzas, and the Ocala National Forest. He showed hard work ethic and a good attitude in 100 degree plus temperatures. His ability to learn quickly helped the drill team to finish coring projects with high-quality results in almost record time.

Tom Greenhalgh, P.G., and Scott Barrett Dyer, Environmental Specialist, received a Team Extra Effort Award for their involvement with the Wakulla Springs Meter Swap-Out Project. The project was logistically difficult due to the cabling, hoses, instruments, divers (Global Underwater Explorers), and ground surface support staff that had to be coordinated down to the minute. In preparation, Greenhalgh and Dyer had to purchase and bind together expensive instrumentation cabling and sampling hoses in preparation for replacement of existing instrument cabling within the Wakulla Springs’ conduit system. Multiple cables and hoses with correct lengths and connectors had to be fed down a 300 foot well to divers at exactly the right time, for risk of the project failing completely. Greenhalgh and Dyer’s attention to detail, concentrated patience, and problem solving skills ensured the mission’s success.

Finally, the FGS Interns (see FGS Internship Program) that put in countless hours with no pay during 2013 were recognized. The work they did throughout the year made a huge difference in the progress of the FGS database.

Contact person/info: Sarah Allen  

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Project map showing well locations.

The FGS recently released Report of Investigations 113, "Geochemical, Mineralogical and Petrographic Characterization of Rocks comprising the Upper Floridan Aquifer System in South Florida".  Jointly funded by the South Florida Water Management District and the FGS, the project characterized chemical and mineralogical compositions within and adjacent to potential aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) storage zones in the Floridan aquifer system of southern peninsular Florida.  Such knowledge is essential in order to facilitate assessment of reactions and constituents that might impact the suitability of the rock as an ASR storage zone. Understanding the chemical processes involved in the mobilization of arsenic and other metals is important to the implementation of ASR. In south Florida, carbonates of the Upper Floridan aquifer comprise the potential storage zone for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) ASR wells.

Geochemical studies involving the compositions of these aquifer system rocks are limited and as such, additional studies are beneficial to identify processes that may adversely affect native and recovered water quality resulting from ASR activities. Whole-rock geochemical analyses of 14 samples from three different cores in Lee, Okeechobee, and Palm Beach Counties were completed to achieve project objectives. The samples included three cores through Hawthorn Group siliciclastic sediments and carbonates of the Avon Park Formation and the Suwannee and Ocala Limestones.

Whole-rock geochemical analyses for these samples included multi-element, multi-method techniques with detection limits and precision that meet those required for possible future geochemical modeling efforts. Lithologic and petrographic descriptions, along with whole-rock geochemistry and detailed mineralogic analyses using scanning electron microscopy and electron probe microanalysis, were used to characterize core samples from various lithostratigraphic formations.
The publication is available online at: "

Contact person/info: Cindy Fischler 

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FGS logo.

The FGS initiated an internship program during 2013 after determining demand for the program and a substantial number of student candidates seeking real job experience. Prior to this time, many potential opportunities for students went unfulfilled. Additionally, there was no mechanism in place to allow for the training and professional development of these eager and hardworking students. The program is designed to provide students with an opportunity to apply learned skills and develop new ones in a supervised professional environment. While the program is designed for giving students real world experiences in the environmental and geological sciences, FGS also exposes its interns to professionals in the geoscience field to promote career development.

The program has had unprecedented success and currently has nine undergraduate students enrolled. Several of the previous internship program graduates have gone on to take jobs within the FGS or have been placed at jobs in other state agencies. The interest level has been very high among the FSU Geography, Environmental Science, and Geology Departments. Participants in the program obtain valuable in-depth experience and knowledge about Florida’s geology, hydrogeology, ecosystem sustainability, and environmental protection. They gain expertise in approaches and techniques related to geographic information systems and science, database design and maintenance, geologic and water-quality sample collection, geologic mapping, geologic sample preparation and occasional field work.

Contact person/info: Alan Baker

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Screenshot of FGS online project map

Click here to learn more, then follow the "Proceed to Map" link from the instruction page.

Contact person/info: Seth Bassett 

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Core at SRWMD drillsite

The Suwannee River Water Management District’s (SRWMD) Middle Suwannee River and Springs Restoration and Aquifer Recharge Project is an effort to rehydrate wetlands and recharge the Upper Floridan aquifer system in southern Lafayette and northern Dixie Counties. This project may increase local spring discharge and provide water for agricultural uses. An overview of the project is available at:

In November and December 2013, the water management district contracted the installation of piezometers and monitoring wells to obtain geologic and hydrologic information in the study area, . This phase of the project required a geologist on-site. The SRWMD reached out to the Department for assistance with the oversight of the drilling, well installation, sample collection and preliminary aquifer testing. FGS Geologists Tom Greenhalgh and Dave Paul, along with Dennis Jensen of DEP Site Investigations, volunteered to assist the district with this phase of the project. The geologists kept field notes on the drilling process and lithology during the surficial split-spoon sampling, 8” surficial casing installation, 4” well casing installation, and final core drilling to complete the wells. They also ran specific capacity tests on the completed wells.

Additionally, the SRWMD had FGS staff describe the lithologic samples collected during the well installations. This included split-spoon samples as well as cuttings and core samples. The lithologic descriptions were completed and provided to the district in February 2014, and the samples added to the FGS statewide sample repository collection.

Contact person/info: David Paul or Tom Greenhalgh

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Dr. Walter Schmidt

Dr. Walt Schmidt, retired Director of the Florida Geological Survey, and the state’s fifth State Geologist since 1907, passed away peacefully on March 29, 2014. Walt was born in Philadelphia and moved to Melbourne, Florida to attend Florida Institute of Technology where he met his devoted wife of forty-one years, Cheryl. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree at the University of South Florida and both a Master’s and Ph.D. in Geology at Florida State University. He retired from the FGS after 34 years of dedicated service.

Throughout Walt’s distinguished professional career he was active in many organizations including the Geological Society of America, American Institute of Professional Geologists, Florida Academy of Sciences, Ground Water Protection Council, and the American Geosciences Institute. Walt was a founding member of the Florida Association of Professional Geologists and served on the Florida Board of Professional Geologists, where he holds Florida PG license #1. He served as president of the Southeastern Geological Society and the Association of American State Geologists (AASG). During his tenure with the AASG, Walt was instrumental in supporting the passage of the 1992 National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Act and in 1996, he gave testimony in support of reauthorization of the Act before a US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

Walt’s professional dedication is exemplified by his service on numerous advisory and technical committees including the Florida Sinkhole Research Institute, Florida Geographic Information Advisory Council, Florida Governor’s Outer Continental Shelf Advisory Committee, Big Cypress Swamp Advisory Committee, National Academy of Sciences, among many others.

The recipient of several honors and awards, Walt was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, recognized as "Hero of the Industry” by the Florida Section, American Institute of Professional Geologists, and given the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Geology Alumni Society, University of South Florida. In 2007, Walt was also recognized as the nation’s longest sitting State Geologist. The Department of Environmental Protection Secretary at the time stated "The stability, continuity and institutional knowledge that his uninterrupted service provides is an irreplaceable resource. Walt is a great public servant."

Walt’s legacy is not only reflected in more than 100 written abstracts, reports, maps, publications, testimonies, and articles, but also in his exemplary leadership and mentorship, which has positively influenced so many and elevated the FGS to a highly valued and respected institution.

In Walt’s own words: “… the sense of serving the public good [is] professionally and personally rewarding… I appreciate the opportunity to be a small part of such a diverse and exciting place to work, in a state so rich in natural resources and natural beauty."

Walt is survived by his wife Cheryl and his loving children Amber and David (Natalie) as well as his sister Marie Crowthers. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.

Dr. Walt Schmidt was a true champion of the geosciences.

“We cannot approach any kind of sustainable living conditions with compatible ecosystem and natural resources conservation without adequate geoscience information.” -- WS

Contact person/info: Dr. Jonathan Arthur 

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