Posted by graywacke on September 13, 2009
First timer? In this (hopefully) once-a-day blog, I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.
Dan – For only the second time since I began this blog, I landed in the number two USer (behind, of course, TX) . . . FL; 25/38; 6/10; 3; 152.5. This puts today’s Score in an exact tie with the all time low, which I reached about 20 landings ago in early August. Check out my landing map:
OK, so I’ve landed near some big cities before. Strangely (in retrospect), it was way back for landing 9 (April 13, 1999) when I landed in North Philly (within the Philadelphia City limits). Back then, I probably thought “No big deal.” But now I realize that for 49 out of 50 landings (or something like that) I land nearest to a small rural town with a population of less than 10,000, typically less than 3,000.
OK, let me check. Since my blog began (landing 1583 which is 206 landings ago), here are generally-known larger towns that I’ve landed near: Sacramento, Dallas, Pierre, Gillette, Oklahoma City, Greenville and Fort Worth (and I actually landed in Fort Worth). So that’s 7 out of 206, which is more like 29 of 30 (rather than the 49 of 50 I quoted above). But anyway, this is clearly a small town blog. But not today.
So here’s a somewhat expanded view, showing my proximity to the G of M (and also showing that I haven’t landed in this part of the FL Panhandle before, at least partially showing why FL is so US.
Here’s an even more expanded view (with everything but State lines turned off). Today’s landing is N30 / W 84. This also shows the paucity of Panhandle landings:
I suggest that you sound out “panhandle landings” to yourself. I think it sounds cool.
Moving right along . . . although not visible on my landing map, I landed in the Lost Creek watershed. Lost Creek is a nifty little stream (and it’s called Lost Creek for a good reason). Before I go on, I need to mention that this was my 8th “Lost Creek” (actually, 7 Lost Creeks & one Lost Draw). This makes “Lost” the 53rd stream name on my “Common Stream Name” list (which only includes those stream names that appear on at least 8 different stresams). Phew.
Here’s a streams-only map that shows that I practically landed in Lost Creek. Note the point labeled “Match Point.”
I landed very near the headwaters of Lost Creek; it obviously flows south towards the G of M. The map below is the southern, more downstream portion of the stream. Note the same point along the stream is also labeled “Match Point.”
You can see that not far south of the Match Point, Lost Creek mysteriously ends. In arid areas, this can happen because the stream simply dries up, and/or it empties into a lake basin that has no outlet. But in more temperate climes where there’s plenty of rainfall (like the eastern half of the U.S.), the usual explanation for a stream just ending is that it’s flowing over cavernous limestone, and it flows into an underground channel or cave. Of course, the water in the stream doesn’t disappear; it simply goes underground and finds another route in its inexorable march towards sea level.
In this case, it’s easy to speculate that the water in Lost Creek flows through some underground limestone passageways, and then re-emerges as the headwaters for Spring Creek. While I think it’s pretty likely, I can’t be sure. I’d love to do a dye study where I’d add an environmentally-friendly dye (which can be detected by sensitive instruments) into the lower reaches of Lost Creek. I’d then monitor the headwaters of Spring Creek and find out if the dye emerges there.
Tallahassee is the home of Florida State University, which has a robust geology department (with about 20 professors). I thought to myself, “maybe somebody from FSU has studied Lost Creek already!” So, I did a Google search and found out that in fact someone did a dye tracing study of Lost Creek! The only problem is that they studied Lost Creek in Montana.
One Newell Campbell (related to Phil?), a geologist with Yakima Valley College did the study. The following is from the abstract of a 1977 paper he published in the journal “Northwest Science” entitled “Geohydrology of the Lost Creek Cave System, Park County, Montana:”
Lost Creek is a tributary of the West Boulder River located in eastern Park County, Montana. Lost Creek crosses a fault contact between granite and limestone and abruptly plunges into a deep swallow hole. The underlying cave system has been explored to a depth of nearly 245 m. The resurgence of Lost Creek, determined by dye tracing and water chemistry, is located at West Boulder Cave near the West Boulder River, 1800 m (about a mile) away.
Here’s the description of the “swallow hole” from the paper:
Lost Creek flows into a swallow hole about 6 m in diameter. The stream drops for a distance of about 25 m and then plunges downward in a series of waterfalls that connect seven plunge pools to a depth of approximately 245 m (800 feet) below the land surface.
Wow. Pretty dramatic stuff. In his attempt to follow the stream in the cave, the author needed three years and many spelunking trips to descend to a depth of 800 feet. At that point, he found that the stream disappears into a gravel bed. (Note that because it’s so flat around Tallahassee, there’s no chance for such dramatic cave topography for my landing’s Lost Creek.)
By the way, Florida A&M University (also in Tallahassee) should be ashamed of itself! Although it has expected science departments (biology, physics and chemistry), it doesn’t have a geology department . . .
I see that I’m going to ignore Tallahassee all together, because a nearby location has caught my interest which is physiographically related to Lost Creek – Wakulla Springs. Wakulla Springs is the headwaters of the Wakulla River, and is located SE of my landing spot. (On the second of my landing maps above, you can see “Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.”)
Wakulla Springs is located 14 miles (23 km) south of Tallahassee, Florida in Wakulla County, Florida. It is protected in the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.
The Wakulla cave system (which hydraulically feeds the spring) is a branching (dendritic) flow-dominated cave. Over 12 miles of the cave conduits have been mapped by divers. In 2007, divers physically connected the Wakulla Springs and Leon Sinks cave systems establishing the Wakulla-Leon Sinks cave system with total explored and surveyed passageway exceeding 28 miles in length.
The Wakulla Spring is classified as a first magnitude spring and is the longest and deepest known submerged freshwater cave system in the world. The spring forms the Wakulla River which flows 9 miles (14 km) to the southeast where it joins the St. Mark’s River. After a short 5 miles (8.0 km) the St. Mark’s empties into the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachee Bay.
Scientific interest in the spring began in 1850, when Sarah Smith reported seeing the bones of an ancient mastodon on the bottom. Since that time, scientists have identified the remains of at least nine other extinct Ice Age mammals, deposited as far as 1,200 feet (360 m) back into a cave. Today, at a depth of about 190 feet, the fossilized remains of mastodons are in full view along with other fossils.
Ancient people lived at the springs over 12,000 years ago; these were descendants of people who crossed into North America from eastern Asia during the Pleistocene epoch. Clovis spear points have been found at Wakulla Springs.
(Remember my discussion of Clovis people in my Lubbock TX post? That’s when I landed in the Blackwater Draw watershed which includes the area of Clovis NM.)
Flow rate of the spring is 200-300 million gallons of water a day. A record peak flow from the spring on April 11, 1973 was measured at 14,324 gallons per second – equal to 1.2 billion gallons per day.
Beginning in the 1938, several of the early Tarzan films starring Johnny Weissmuller were filmed on location in Wakulla Springs. Other films such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, Night Moves, Airport 77 and Joe Panther starring Brian Keith and Ricardo Montalban were also filmed on location at Wakulla Springs.
Pretty cool place. I’ll close with some photos of the Wakulla Spring & River. I’ll start with a shot of the river a little downstream from the spring. I can imagine Tarzan here . . .
Here’s an overview of the spring looking downstream towards the river:
Here’s a shot showing how clear the water is:
Here’s some big freshwater mullet swimming in the spring:
And, of course, there are manatees:
That’ll do it.
© 2009 A Landing A Day