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Coastal & Marine Geology Program > Center for Coastal & Regional Marine Studies > Geologic Characterization of Lakes and Rivers of Northeast Florida > OFR 00-180

Subsurface Characterization of Selected Water Bodies in the St Johns River Water Management District, Northeast Florida

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Orange Lake
Alachua County, Florida

Introduction | Subsurface Characterization


Orange Lake Seismic Track Map.
Seismic Survey Track Map for Orange Lake showing profile locations, survey track lines, and karst features. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Orange Lake is located in Alachua County, north-central Florida. The lake occupies the physiographic division known as the Alachua Prairies (Brooks and Merritt, 1981). Advanced karst development in the subsurface created solution valleys that are characterized by flat-floored depressions with numerous dissolution features. A geologic term for these environments is polje. These broad, drowned prairies occupy the epiphreatic zone and are strongly influenced by fluctuations in the water table. An extreme example is Paynes Prairie to the north which commonly fluctuates from grassland to marsh to completely inundated and was at one time known as Alachua Lake.

Orange Lake is a relatively shallow, irregularly shaped lake with approximately 44 km (144 ft) of shoreline covering 30 km2, with much of the shore grading into freshwater marsh. The surficial sediments of the lake bottom are organic and/or organics mixed with sand and clay, transported into the lake by storm runoff and streams (Rowland, 1957).

The west side of the lake is flanked by the Fairfield Hills, a Pleistocene sand ridge which may supply some of the sediments to the lake bottom. The ridge overlies the less permeable, Miocene sediments of the Hawthorn Group. In the southwestern corner of the lake, the shallow bottom gives way to a cluster of dolines (sinkhole complex) that penetrate the semi-confining layer into the karst limestone beneath. Pirkle and Brooks (1959a) suggest that the sands and clays of the Hawthorn Group are typically impermeable. When the water table drops, under sufficient hydrostatic pressure from the surface water, this material will fail and be flushed into solution channels in the limestone. Once the outlets are opened, the lake water will adjust to the level of the water table in the limestone unless the sinks again become plugged.

Coastal & Marine Geology Program > Center for Coastal & Regional Marine Studies > Geologic Characterization of Lakes and Rivers of Northeast Florida > OFR 00-180 U. S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
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Updated May 06, 2013 @ 09:24 AM (JSS)