Dec 13, 2014

Canoeists below!

As seen on Turner River
at Tamiami Trail Bridge
looking north

Dec 12, 2014

Swamp mosaic

Dwarf cypress prairie
and slash pine islands

Dec 11, 2014

December swamp

On a cold and cloudy day
just north of Loop Road

Can you see the Pinecrest Radio Tower?

High-density hammock?

Can you see the town of Pinecrest in the distance?
As seen over Loop Road looking east

Dec 10, 2014

Tip of the hydrologic iceberg

Pincrest is more than a simple chain of highland hammocks:

It's also the dividing line between two giant underground aquifers below.


To the east lies the Biscayne Aquifer, the sole source of drinking water for Miami.  And too the west lies the Tamiami Formation, a primary source of drinking water for Naples and Ft Myers coast.

Surface water is only the tip of the swamp's hydrologic iceberg.

Pinecrest Hammocks

This distinctive feature
forms an arching archipelago of
highland hammocks, at the southern
end of which there is a town
also called Pinecrest

Dec 9, 2014

Inventor of the source of a still elusive font

Concentrated orange juice, airboats, air conditionings, swamp buggies, and amusement parks ... Florida is more famous not for inventions

But perfecting their widespread use.

Florida perfected
but did not invent these

The notable exception is the Floridan Aquifer:

Florida is the birthplace and home to this hydrologic original, and Garald Parker, late geologist of the U.S. Geological Survey, is its proud inventor.

But inventor, really?

Wouldn't a more proper description be that he discovered it, as do explorers, instead; and not that he “invented” it from scratch, say, like the light bulb as did Thomas Edison. (Edison, incidentally, wintered in Ft Myers, and as fate would have it, also tapped water from the Floridan Aquifer (before it had its name) for his pool – using a thousand foot deep well.

Thomas Edison unwittingly used
but did not invent the Floridan Aquifer

But it was Garald Parker who discovered or rather I mean invented it.

Partly the culmination of careful scientific inquiry mixed in with possibly a Eureka Moment too: Garald Parker came to realize that the giant mass of water beneath his feet ... the one which overran the geologic bounds of any single rock Florida's many formations ... and one which towards the Big Bend was exposed at the surface where it formed springs ... and the one which south of Okeechobee where it was buried a thousand feet deep ... and the one that throughout the entire peninsula (and even up in to the continent)  where it was everywhere ... was actually a single water body.

Parker understood (and named) the water body for what it truly was:

The state’s biggest water body!

Garald Parker (right) invented and discovered the source
of Florida's many springs, one of which reputed to have youth
restorative qualities Juan Ponce de Leon (left) never found

Even more than that Parker was the first to coin the term aquifer as well, now a mainstay of the hydrologic lexicon.  The term aquifer is used to describe the contiguous (and productive) body of underground water, not the geologic formations in which it is contained.

That makes Florida home of the world’s first aquifer,

Garald Parker was both its discoverer and inventor.

If only Ponce de Leon had been as lucky with the Fountain of Youth.

It's a gusher!

Not quite Floridan Aquifer water,
But close: This unplugged well naturally
flows to the surface and has a sulfur-rich
smell, as seen in The Big Cypress
at Forty Mile Bend

Dec 8, 2014

Florida's deepest river

The Floridan Aquifer is the source of the peninsula's famous springs.

Except in south Florida where it's buried a thousand feet down.

Florida's aquifers are like a multi-layered cake.
The Floridan Aquifer is the deepest and
under pressure in south Florida.
But poke a hole in it with a pipe and its water flows straight to the surface, sort of like an artesian spring. As prodigious a water source as that sounds, ever so tempting to tap, don’t forget that it’s packed with a dissolved solids too.

Or in other words, salty.

Florida’s freshwater is surrounded by saltwater on three sides and below.

"Waste not, want not"

I filled up a couple containers
to have a ready stock at home

Dec 7, 2014

Drink at your own risk

Remember that old Camel ad:

"I'd walk a mile for a good cigarette?"

This sign had me second guessing

That got me to thinking about how far I'd travel for a good glass of water. I'm a tap water guy at heart. That being the case usually means a good swig of water is just a few steps away.

But is it really?

The water that comes out of the tap is actually being transported from miles away (and a good 50 to 100 feet down). I don't have to go to the source because the source is being sent to me. But maybe I would be better off going first hand to the source myself. Raw water pumped from the Tamiami Aquifer has 300 mg/L of total hardness but by the time it arrives to my tap its been stripped down to 40 mg/L. That's good for my house pipes and good for my appliances and feels good on my skin, but in terms of molecular physiology the harder the water the more beneficial it supposedly is for one's health.

So where's a good raw water when you need it?

But I drank up anyhow

While I cannot vouch for its safety (i.e. I ignored a sign that warned it was slightly radioactivity) but what I can vouch for is that it is free: I found myself drinking heartily a full 16 ounce glass and then filling up three 1-gallon jugs. It was borderline repulsive to the scent, sulfurous fumes making me momentarily second guess, but a man crossing the road to greet me -- seeing me standing quizzically at the fountain -- assured me that people travel from miles around with no other goal or destination in mind than to fill up a container or three, sometimes even ten, of the free flowing well. "Apparently its high in magnesium," he guessed while also admitting he himself hadn't drank any in a while. "How far did you travel?" He wanted to know.

I told him about 50 miles from the south.

Fountain of youth?

So some people claim,
as seen in downtown Punta Gorda