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Methods of data collection and analysis for an assessment of karst aquifer systems between Albany and Buffalo, New York

October 18, 2021

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, catalogued aquifers and closed depressions in a karst-prone area between Albany and Buffalo, New York to provide resource managers information to more efficiently manage and protect groundwater resources. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has been working with the agricultural industry to raise awareness of karst aquifer contamination susceptibility and how to reduce effects on surface water and groundwater resources, especially in karst areas. There is also a need to make industries, State and local regulators, planners, and the public aware of New York’s karst resources to properly protect and manage these resources and the quality of surface water and groundwater that flows through the karst aquifer.

Publicly available geospatial data were identified, collated, and analyzed for a region of karst terrain extending from Albany to Buffalo. The region was divided into 10 subareas. A series of geospatial datasets were assembled to determine the location and extent of karstic rock; bedrock geology and depth to bedrock; average water-table configuration; surficial geology; soil type, thickness, and hydraulic conductivity; land cover; and closed depressions in the land surface.

Repeated glaciation and recession across New York have left the landscape pockmarked with closed depressions, which may or may not be related to the underlying bedrock. Closed depressions in areas where carbonate or evaporite karst are present are of primary concern to this study because of the increased potential of karst aquifer contamination from focused recharge. Closed depressions present in areas not associated with karst bedrock can also be evaluated to better understand their ability to transmit surface water to the groundwater system. Information on closed depressions can be used to develop land-management plans to protect local and regional water resources.