Upcoming Thesis Defense: Brian Landers

Join us this Thursday for IRIS graduate student Brian Landers’ thesis defense, where he will present his research, “Modeling Regional Surface and Groundwater Hydrology near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.”

Abstract: The Southeastern Coastal Plain physiographic region of Georgia is a unique hydrologic system that is cherished for the recreational opportunities, resources, and ecosystem services it provides. Important wetland and river systems in the region of study include the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR), Satilla River, St. Mary’s River, Suwannee River, and their associated watersheds. These surface-water features are underlain by a shallow, surficial aquifer and the deeper Floridan Aquifer, which is of the most productive aquifer systems in the world. This region is also known for its heavy mineral sands, which have been sought by the mining industry for decades. As mining operations on coastal terraces in Northeastern Florida progressed northward approaching the Georgia-Florida state line, environmental concerns were raised regarding large-scale mining adjacent to the federally protected ONWR. The presence of heavy mineral mining operations in the area suggests the need to conduct environmental impact assessments for active and proposed mine sites to ensure preservation of Southeast Georgia’s water resources and the ecosystems they support. The purpose of this study is to contribute to a better understanding of the hydrologic connectivity of surface and groundwater systems in Southeast Georgia and Northeast Florida by developing a regional groundwater flow model using Visual MODFLOW Flex. The steady-state model developed for this study encompasses the surface and groundwater features that define regional hydrology and are at risk of adverse effects from open-pit mining operations. Ultimately, the model will provide insight into regional hydrology, with specific focus on surface and groundwater interactions, providing a basis for assessing potential hydrologic effects from heavy mineral mining in Southeast Georgia.

His defense will take place on June 23rd at 3:00 p.m. via Zoom. Please contact Sarah.Buckleitner@uga.edu for an invitation and password.