|Looking for Cave|
by Stormy on April 28, 2007
Caves are formed when a lot of water rushes through them and erodes the softer rock. When, for whatever reasons, the flow of water diminishes, the passage that was eroded has soils redeposited in it.
Today I got an opportunity to travel to a cave named Swirling Mist. It was a trip with a number of goals in mind, including delivery of restoration supplies, introducing the cave to cavers who have never been there and continuing with an exploratory dig. Digging a cave? That's not really the right image. Miners dig mines. They take their hammers and picks and sticks of dynamite and make the mine bigger as they follow the veins of ore or precious minerals. That's not what cavers do. Following cave passage sometimes requires excavating the soils and sediments that have been washed into the cave. Cavers don't chisel rock out to make longer passage. It's not true cave passage and it's detrimental to the cave's environment. Plus, it's not safe. Most caves are formed by dissolution of soft sedimentary rock as it's exposed to moving water. When the flow of water is changed or subsides, surface soils may be washed into the cave and be deposited in the passage earlier carved out by running water. Eventually these passages will be closed off by the accumulation of surface soils. That's where cavers come in. Finding more cave often means following the flow of water and that's exactly what we were doing on this trip. The exploration yielded us fifteen feet of passage with more promised beyond it. This is a great way to find passage that no one has ever been in before!
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