Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

Karst features on the Withlacoochee River, near Valdosta, Georgia


The Withlacoochee River of South Georgia crosses an area of karst landscape before it flows south into the Suwannee River in Florida. This limestone karst is particularly well-developed ~5 km northwest of Valdosta Georgia. At this location the Withlacoochee River crosses an area of widespread sinkhole development. Some of these sinkholes occur directly in the riverbed. Field studies by both the USGS and by faculty at Valdosta State University have shown that during periods of intense drought the water in the Withlacoochee River is completely consumed as 100% of the water flows into the sinks. Additionally, a small segment of the downstream portion of the river reverses flow and flows north into the sink area. When the river is at drought conditions many karst features can be observed both in and near the dry Withlacoochee channel. These karst features include disappearing streams, solution cavities, whirlpools, sinkholes, and caves. This also provides an excellent opportunity to observe conventional stream landforms such as channel features, depositional features, and flow features. During periods of higher rainfall, the Withlacoochee will return to normal flow. The USGS has studied groundwater flow in this are and has found that significant and rapid communication exists between the river and the underlying aquifer systems, including the important Floridan Aquifer.

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