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Applied Karst Hydrogeology

May 19-24, 2024


 Karst Hydrogeology is a field course that introduces the basics of karst landscape/aquifer systems with an emphasis on methods and techniques relevant to addressing environmental problems as well as broader research applications. Topics covered in daily presentations, discussions, and fieldwork will include hydrogeology of karst aquifer/landscape systems with a focus on the southcentral Kentucky karst region, groundwater tracing and monitoring methods, near-surface geophysics, and applications of these methods to karst groundwater problems. Field exercises will include surface and cave trips with a particular focus on ‘hands-on’ participation in groundwater tracing and monitoring using both discrete sampling methods and a variety of data loggers. This course will be held in Bowling Green, Kentucky on the main campus of Western Kentucky University with field trips in the Lost River Basin, Mammoth Cave National Park, Hidden River Cave, and other nearby locations. Participants must be in good physical condition to negotiate surface hikes, cave passages, and wade small streams. This fieldwork is a major component of this course. Students who take the course for credit will develop an independent research project in consultation with the instructors during the week, which must be completed by August 2024.

Instructors: Dr. Chris Groves, PG

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In 1981, Chris Groves joined the Center for Cave and Karst Studies, the original research group that would become the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory, as a student of WKU’s karst program founder, Nick Crawford. His first dye traces were the following year. He is now University Distinguished Professor of Hydrogeology at WKU and Director of the Crawford Hydrology Lab. He received a PhD in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, and has since developed an active international research program in hydrogeology, geochemistry and water resources. 


Dr. Groves has helped lead several United Nations scientific programs, including as co-Leader of several karst-focused projects of the International Geoscience Program. He also serves on the Governing Board and Academic Committee of the International Research Center on Karst under the Auspices of UNESCO. He served as Associate Editor of Hydrogeology Journal, and has published in the field’s leading journals including Groundwater, Water Resources Research, Journal of Hydrology, and Geomorphology. 


Additionally, Dr. Groves has led cooperative research in hydrogeology and water resources of the extensive karst region of rural southwest China since 1995. In January 2017 China’s President Xi Jinping awarded Groves the China International Science and Technology Cooperation Award, that country’s highest honor for foreign scientists, for “great contributions to China’s hydrogeology and karst geology fields.”


For many years, Groves has studied and explored caves and surface landscapes of Mammoth Cave National Park, including service as an expedition leader, Director, and President of the Cave Research Foundation.



Instructors: Lee Anne Bledsoe

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Ms. Bledsoe is the Assistant Director of the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory. She provides project management, professional consultation on tracer test design, advises on hydrologic and water quality monitoring, oversees technical report writing, and supervises CHL staff and students. During her sixteen years with CHL, she has worked on dye traces for groundwater basin mapping, effluent and sewer pipe break investigations, dam leaks, landfill expansions, determining groundwater flow routes from factories and quarries, and source water protection projects across the U.S. as well as China, Jamaica, and Brazil.  Ms. Bledsoe is a WKU Karst Field Studies instructor, serves as a technical advisor on undergraduate and graduate research at WKU and partner Universities, and leads dye-tracing workshops in the US and abroad.  Before joining the Crawford team, she worked for private research institutes and the National Park Service on water quality, hydrology, ecosystem restoration, and public health research. She is a Registered Sanitarian with the Department of Public Health for the State of Kentucky and is a certified onsite wastewater disposal inspector. Ms. Bledsoe received her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science from Tusculum College and Master of Science in Geoscience from Western Kentucky University. Her thesis work was a collaborative effort with the United States Army Corp of Engineers to investigate groundwater flow in the vicinity of Patoka Dam in Indiana to support dam safety risk assessment.

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