What are springs?
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a “spring is formed when the groundwater, which is under pressure, flows out through a natural opening in the ground.” In Florida, our springs are supplied by the Floridan aquifer, which is continuously recharged by rainwater.
How are they formed?
Rain falling through the atmosphere, as it often does in Florida, collects carbon dioxide on its way down to the surface and through the soil, forming carbonic acid.
While this weak acid is harmless to us and is responsible for our carbonated drinks, the chemical properties of the limestone bedrock underlain Florida cause it to slowly dissolve as this slightly acidic water moves into cracks in the rocks.
As a result, underground openings are formed and widened over time. These caves and cracks, once filled with rainwater, collectively create an aquifer.
When sufficient water is available in the aquifer, the natural pressure created from the confinement of the water under heavy bedrock creates enough pressure to force the water up to the surface through an opening to form a spring.
Why it matters
Throughout history, Florida’s springs have been treasured natural resources for many different civilizations and species. For Florida’s Indigenous tribes, communities were often centered around springs as they offered an ideal place for permanent settlement or recovery during a long journey. Additionally, the Floridan aquifer system continues to provide most of the state’s clean drinking water today.
Info from USGS, the Central Arkansas Library System, and Florida State Parks.