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Examining Pathways for Water Loss from Mountain Lake, Giles County, Virginia
Located in Giles County, Virginia, Mountain Lake has a documented history of dramatic water level fluctuations. Previous water balance studies have documented that the main cause of water loss is outflow to groundwater. However, the flow paths of water exiting the lake are unknown. This study applied hydrologic, geophysical, and dye tracer methods to examine the pathways for water loss and the possible geologic controls on these flow paths.
Continuous lake level monitoring data show seasonal trends of draining and filling over a three year period. Electrical resistivity profiles suggest the presence of a large low-resistivity zone beneath the northern end of the lake. A dye tracer study yielded limited positive results, but dye detection in one stream and within the lake suggest complex flow dynamics. The most likely reasons for the lack of dye recovery include dilution of the dye during lake recovery, seepage of water below monitoring site locations, or formation of a temporary seal in the depressions created by influx of sediment during periods of lake bed exposure.