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Three-dimensional seismic characterization of karst in the Floridan aquifer system, southeastern Miami-Dade County, Florida

October 16, 2018

Two three-dimensional seismic surveys totaling 3.4 square miles were acquired in southeastern Miami-Dade County during 2015 as part of an ongoing broad regional investigation by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department, that includes mapping and karst characterization of the Floridan aquifer system in southeastern Florida. Twenty columniform seismic-sag structures were identified in the three-dimensional seismic data acquired at the South Miami Heights study area in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The seismic-sag structures are commonly composed of a lower and upper seismic facies, where the lower facies is interpreted to be a high permeability column-shaped volume of intense karstification composed of faults, fractures, and collapsed caves, and the upper facies is interpreted to be a lower permeability column-shaped volume composed of sagging suprastratal reflections having little or no faulting, fracturing, or caves. The seismic-sag structures are columniform karst-collapse structures that formed by cave collapse or stoping (upward void migration caused primarily by the mechanical process of ceiling collapse) or both in carbonate rocks of the early Eocene Oldsmar Formation and in some cases in the lowermost part of the middle Eocene Avon Park Formation. Columniform subsidence and sagging of overburden succeeded karst collapse in the lower part of the structures. At the study area, there may be relatively higher potential for the columniform karst-collapse structures to provide cross-formational fluid migration upward from the Boulder Zone into the lower part of middle confining unit 2 as compared to a lower potential for cross-formational fluid migration from the upper part of middle confining unit 2 upward to the Upper Floridan aquifer.