Aquifers are subsurface zones of rocks that yield water in sufficient quantities to be economically useful for society's activities. Aquifers are classified as either unconfined, semi-confined or confined, depending on the physical conditions under which the water is contained in an aquifer's rocks. Florida has all three types of aquifers in various combinations throughout the state. The Floridan aquifer system (FAS), which underlies all of Florida, is the main source of potable groundwater for much of the state. However, in the extreme western Panhandle and in South Florida, the FAS is either too deep or contains water of poor quality.
What Type of Rock are Aquifers Made of?
Water-bearing sedimentary rocks in Florida can generally be divided into two types: siliciclastics (sands, silts, clays) or carbonates (limestone and dolostone). All of these rocks, no matter how "hard" or solid they appear, contain some voids or pores, which may contain water.
Two properties that are common to all these rocks, and which control the movement of their groundwater, are porosity and permeability. Porosity and permeability are intimately related. Porosity refers to the pores themselves, while permeability is a measure of a rock's ability to allow fluids to move through its pores. For a rock to be permeable, its pores must be interconnected so that water can move freely.
Hydrogeology is the study of groundwater with emphasis given to its chemistry, modes of movement, and relation to the geologic environment. Groundwater is the largest and most readily available source of potable water in Florida. This makes the study of hydrogeology important for having safe and clean drinking water in Florida. Hydrogeology integrates geology, hydrology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology and engineering to understand the occurrence and movement of water in the complex subsurface environment.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.