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The Great Subterranean Spring of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, and the potential impact of subsurface urban heat islands (SUHIs)
  • Greg Brick
Greg Brick
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Anthropogenic subsurface urban heat islands (SUHIs) in groundwater under cities are known worldwide. SUHIs are potentially threats to springs because much spring fauna, like trout, amphipods, and rare plants, is cold stenothermal. The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, has a SUHI documented by the temperature of an underground spring, dubbed “Little Minnehaha Falls,” inside Schieks Cave, which is located 23 m below the central core of the city. In 2000 the temperature of that spring was elevated 11°C above regional background groundwater temperatures (8°C) at this latitude (45°N). A thermometric survey of the cave and nearby tunnel seepages in 2007 found that an abandoned drill-hole through the bedrock ceiling of the cave was discharging groundwater with a temperature of 17.9°C. By comparison, groundwater in the deep water-table below the cave was closer to natural background temperatures for the region. The unusually warm groundwater was thereby localized to the strata above the cave. This is the strongest signal of anthropogenic groundwater warming in the state of Minnesota and is attributed to vertical heat conduction from basements and pavements. Minneapolis is unique among SUHIs in that a cave forms a natural collection gallery deep below the city surface, whereas the literature is almost exclusively based on data from observation wells.
19 Dec 2022Published in Threats to Springs in a Changing World on pages 145-154. 10.1002/9781119818625.ch10