Conferences, Field Trips, and Seminars

Conferences, Field Trips, and Seminars

KWI organizes small, interdisciplinary conferences, field trips, and seminars on karst, cave, carbonate reservoir, and groundwater-related topics.

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Publications

Publications

KWI publications include abstracts, proceedings, and field trip guides from KWI conferences, results of KWI research, and digital reprints of books and journals.

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Education

Education

What is karst and why is it important? KWI provides educational materials to the general public about karst, caves, sinkholes, and karst-related groundwater resources.

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Tribute to Bet White, longtime KWI Associate

Will and Bet White at a Karst Waters Institute planning session in 1998.

Will and Bet White at a Karst Waters Institute planning session in 1998.

Elizabeth (Bette or Bet) White, age 87, died on August 29, 2023.  The karst community mourns the passing of a passionate colleague and supportive friend.  Dr. White was born on March, 9, 1936, in Stowe Township, west of Pittsburgh.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1958 and took a job with the Pennsylvania Department of Highways.  She married Dr. William B. (Will) White in 1959 and moved to State College where she entered graduate school at Penn State.  She received a Master of Science degree in 1969 and a Ph.D. in 1975, both in civil engineering.  She was employed in research positions by Penn State’s Materials Research Laboratory and Department of Civil Engineering.

A focal point of Bet’s life was cave exploring which she began late in her college career.  She and Will explored caves up and down the Appalachians, in Kentucky, Puerto Rico, and many other states as well as in Europe and China.  Much of this exploration was in support of scientific research that resulted in some 44 technical articles and one book.  She was active in the caving organizations the National Speleological Society, the Butler Cave Conservation Society, and the Cave Research Foundation.  Bet was instrumental in supporting the activities of the Karst Waters Institute (KWI) whose mission is to improve the fundamental understanding of karst water systems for professionals and the public.  As part of that effort, Bet contributed her time and talents to KWI’s goal to communicate and disseminate information to the public.  She served as the Publication Sales Associate for three decades, promptly sending out KWI publications in response to mail-in and online book orders.  Her dedicated service to the karst science community helped advance a broad understanding of karst.

Call for applications: the William L. Wilson and Diane C. Wilson Scholarship in Karst Science

The William L. Wilson and Diane C. Wilson Scholarship in Karst Science recognizes the significant contributions of the late William (Bill) L. Wilson, who tackled some of the most difficult karst science questions in Florida and elsewhere through his consulting company, Subsurface Evaluations, Incorporated. To stimulate the development of new, energetic, motivated, and creative karst scientists and to remember Bill Wilson and his dedication to karst science, the scholarship was established by Diane C. Wilson in his memory. The scholarship includes a one-time award of $2,500.

The scholarship is open to any student who is currently enrolled in, or has been accepted into, a master’s degree program at an institution of higher education in the United States. This year’s deadline for all application materials is February 15, 2024. Information on how to apply can be found at the Karst Waters Institute website (http://karstwaters.org/scholarship/). Additional information can be had through email to Dr. Janet S. Herman (jherman@virginia.edu).

KWI and VDCR Cave Biology Workshop

(in association with the 2023 Convention of the National Speleological Society)

When: Friday, June 23 (7 p.m.) through Sunday, June 25 (5 p.m.), 2023

Where: Front Royal, VA

Cost: $200 USD (lodging included, scholarships available)

Leaders: Wil Orndorff, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; Dr. Julian Lewis and Salisa Lewis, Lewis and Associates Bioconsulting; Dr. Zenah Orndorff, Virginia Tech

Description: The Karst Waters Institute and the Natural Heritage Karst Program of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will be hosting a pre-convention cave biology workshop in Front Royal, Virginia. The Cave Conservancy Foundation is a cosponsor of this event. Participants will receive classroom instruction in cave biology, including an overview of the invertebrate cave fauna commonly encountered in the Central Appalachians, cave ecology, field observation and collection methods, permitting and legal issues, specimen preservation, and molecular techniques. Field exercises will be conducted in local horizontal caves and at other surface karst sites (e.g., springs, sinkholes) to learn how to recognize habitats and try out some of the field collection methods. Under the guidance of the instructors, participants will sort and label specimens from field exercises for distribution to taxonomists, and students will be co-listed as collectors along with permitted instructors.

Lodging at a state park cabin is included in the $200 registration fee. Cabins will be available to participants starting Thursday night, June 22. Scholarships are available to defer a portion of the cost. Please email Wil.Orndorff@dcr.virginia.gov for more information or to register for the workshop. KWI and VDCR wish to thank the Cave Conservancy Foundation for their generous support of this event.

New, open-access hydrogeology textbook available by KWI board member Neven Kresic

Written by Neven Kresic, author of several best-selling books on groundwater, Hydrogeology 101 is a college textbook introducing basic concepts in groundwater science and engineering with 16 lectures, the duration of a typical one or two-semester course at American universities. With hundreds of full color figures and photographs, it covers Introduction to Hydrogeology, Groundwater Use, Porosity and Hydraulic Characteristics of Porous Media, Groundwater Flow, Aquifers and Aquitards, Groundwater Recharge and Discharge including Springs, Flow in Unsaturated Zone, Groundwater Chemistry, Groundwater Contamination and Remediation, Field Investigations, Groundwater in Water Supply, and Groundwater Drought in California Case Study by Alex Mikszewski.
This college textbook is available for free download, and reposting for non-profit uses by all interested.

In memory of Bob Gulden, 2022 KWI Karst Award Recipient

The Karst Waters Institute is sad to report that Bob Gulden, 2022 recipient of the KWI award for contributions to karst science, passed away in November, 2022.  Bob had kept the database for long and deep caves of the world since 1976.  Over the years he maintained the list and expanded the searchable catagories to include deep pits, largest rooms, gypsum and salt caves, and underwater caves.  This online resource has been an important tool for karst researchers from around the world. Bob was also an accomplished cave surveyor and cartographer who excelled at producing detailed maps of complex and significant cave systems.

His award acceptance talk is below.

2023 Wilson Scholarship now available ($2000)

The William L. Wilson and Diane C. Wilson Scholarship in Karst Science recognizes the significant contributions of the late William (Bill) L. Wilson, who tackled some of the most difficult karst science questions in Florida and elsewhere through his consulting company, Subsurface Evaluations, Incorporated. To stimulate the development of new, energetic, motivated, and creative karst scientists and to remember Bill Wilson and his dedication to karst science, the scholarship was established by Diane C. Wilson in his memory. The scholarship includes a one-time award of $2,000.

The scholarship is open to any student who is currently enrolled in, or has been accepted into, a master’s degree program at an institution of higher education in the United States. This year’s deadline for all application materials is February 15, 2023. Information on how to apply can be found at http://karstwaters.org/scholarship/. Additional information can be had through email to Dr. Janet S. Herman (jherman@virginia.edu).

GSA Topical Session on karst contamination, health, and public policy

KWI is pleased to share upcoming opportunities for abstract submissions for the 2022 Geological Society of America Meeting in Denver, CO:

GSA Topical Session T211. Natural Contamination, Natural Hazards, Health Risk, and Public Policy: Success stories and models for managing, communicating, and updating policy to address health risks of natural contamination and hazards.”

This session is not strictly about groundwater or private wells. It is about naturally occurring contaminants and their public health impacts, including success stories of those who were able to change policies as a result of the challenge. The goal of this session is to come away with practical ideas that attendees can use in their work to protect public health. The session is sponsored by four GSA Divisions, and the organizers hope T72 will attract presenters who can share lessons learned about the application of geology to public policy and public health.

The electronic abstracts submission form opens May 1
Abstract submission deadline July 19 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time.
Denver Meeting Website

Session Description
This session will consider how managing the public health risks from natural hazards and contaminants are addressed differently than manmade contaminants. Available resources, policy, and educating the public are all handled differently. Share your successes.

Session Rationale
Manmade contaminants gain public attention in the press. Federal programs provide insight and oversight to delineate plumes, clean up contaminants, and provide affected residents with clean air, water, and earth. Many geologists are employed by environmental consultants to deal with these contaminants. Yet
according to USGS (DeSimone, 2009), the most common well water contaminants are naturally occurring. In 2013 Wake County, NC implemented a program to notify private well users about risks of man-made contamination, and in the ensuing 6 years tested several hundred wells for the synthetic organic
contaminants associated with such sites. The county’s 2016 review of a decade of well testing found that over 10% of tested wells exceeded the drinking water standard for uranium, while only about 1% exceeded drinking water standards for manmade contaminants. Comparison of the uranium testing data to detailed geologic mapping revealed that 20-30% of the wells in an area covering ½ the county, an area underlain by Pennsylvanian granitic intrusions, were likely to be contaminated with uranium or other radionuclides, a finding in accordance with DeSimone and others, 2009.

The fact that these contaminants are naturally occurring complicates and limits the ability of well users to mitigate their health risks. Wake County is not alone. It is estimated that approximately 15% of the US population obtain their drinking water from private wells (U.S. Census Bureau (USCB), 2009). Taking the USGS and USCB estimates together, approximately ten million people in the US are currently exposed to unsafe levels of naturally occurring contaminants in their drinking water, yet there are no federal programs to provide resources to educate or assist these users of unregulated wells. Well water is not the only pathway of exposure to contamination from naturally occurring contaminants. Session proponents would like to learn from others who have dealt with natural hazards or contaminants and the following: limited resources while managing public health risks; risk relative to public investment in resolving natural vs. manmade contaminants and hazards; models from natural disasters such as flooding and earthquakes; successful policy responses; outreach campaigns; and lessons learned.