St Marks River Rise
As it is usual with many Floridan rivers, St Marks River sometimes disappears underground to emerge on the surface shortly after. The last such rise before entering into the Gulf of Mexico is St Marks River Rise.
Cave length (St Marks Natural Bridge System)
Map of the site
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Is it a spring or not?
Technically this is spring of the 1st magnitude. The average discharge of this giant spring is 12,800 l/s (average discharge in 1956-2017, 2.) and it starts as a 130 m wide river. Only four other springs in Florida have higher discharge – and Florida has some of the largest springs worldwide.
River rises though seem not to be true springs. The water of the river rises is not lucid and clean, as it is with true springs. After all, this is just a river, which has passed some distance underground.
What happens below the ground?
St Marks River submerges at Natural bridge – true natural bridge, the famous site of an important battle in American Civil War.
Afterwards the river flows underground for approximately 1.1 km until the Rise. In between the river reappears on the surface several more times.
Woodwille Karst Plain Project in 2006 spent some time researching this part of St. Marks River. It turns out that several underwater caves join the river, bringing in additional streams and thus increasing the power of the stream in the river. The joint length of these explored passages – St Marks Natural Bridge System – is 3,690 m long and up to 110 m deep.
Future protected area?
The area around Natural Bridge and St Marks Rise is not entirely wilderness – here and there are built houses and the forest is dissected with roads. Nevertheless, the hardwood hammock has been preserved here.
The land around the sink and rise belongs to several owners and sooner or later there will be a possibility, and, let’s hope, a wish to purchase it and to create a nature-protected area.
- Chris Werner. Natural Bridge – St. Marks River Rise Exploration. Global Underwater Explorers.
- Minimum Flows
for the St. Marks River Rise, Northwest Florida Water Management District, 2019. Accessed on September 6, 2023.
Florida is the tropical paradise of the mainland United States. Over the last century, it has experienced fabulous changes, turning from a forgotten, swampy badland into a densely populated and rich land. Highlights of Florida include the architecture of the late 19th and 20th centuries as well as its giant springs and caves.
Every year there are reported exciting discoveries of new caves and discoveries of new qualities such as cave paintings in the ones known before. But there still is a feeling that our knowledge covers just a small part of all these monuments of nature.
Though, those which are known to us, offer a surprising diversity of unusual features and impressive sights.
Powerful natural freshwater springs belong to the most fascinating monuments of nature. Even more exciting is the diversity of unusual springs – mineral springs, hot springs, submarine springs as well as the unusual black smokers. Especially beautiful are such natural rarities as travertine, silica, or salt terraces created by warm and hot springs and, especially, geysers.
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The many springs that jewel the landscape of Florida are translucent openings into a dominion very rare: a crystalline world of fresh water at the edge of the sea. The deepest and largest known springs in the world are found in Florida. This book is a guided tour of these beautiful environments, with an emphasis on the many strange and wonderful natural inhabitants.