Near-Surface, Marine Seismic-Reflection Data Define Potential Hydrogeologic Confinement Bypass in the Carbonate Floridan Aquifer System, Southeastern Florida

Cunningham, Kevin J. (U.S. Geological Survey) | Westcott, Richard L. (U.S. Geological Survey) | Walker, Cameron (Walker Marine Geophysical Company)



Approximately 210 km of near-surface, high-frequency, marine seismic-reflection data were acquired on the southeastern part of the Florida Platform between 2007 and 2011. Many high-resolution, seismic-reflection profiles, interpretable to a depth of about 730 m, were collected on the shallow-marine shelf of southeastern Florida in water as shallow as 1 m. Landward of the present-day shelf-margin slope, these data image middle Eocene to Pleistocene strata and Paleocene to Pleistocene strata on the Miami Terrace. This high-resolution data set provides an opportunity to evaluate geologic structures that cut across confining units of the Paleocene to Oligocene-age carbonate rocks that form the Floridan aquifer system.

Seismic profiles image two structural systems, tectonic faults and karst collapse structures, which breach confining beds in the Floridan aquifer system. Both structural systems may serve as pathways for vertical groundwater flow across relatively low-permeability carbonate strata that separate zones of regionally extensive high-permeability rocks in the Floridan aquifer system. The tectonic faults occur as normal and reverse faults, and collapse-related faults have normal throw. The most common fault occurrence delineated on the reflection profiles is associated with karst collapse structures.

These high-frequency seismic data are providing high quality structural analogs to unprecedented depths on the southeastern Florida Platform. The analogs can be used for assessment of confinement of other carbonate aquifers and the sealing potential of deeper carbonate rocks associated with reservoirs around the world.