Mammoth Cave Celebrates National Cave and KarstDay: June 6

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MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK News Release

Release Date: May 21, 2019

Contact: Molly Schroer, Molly_Schroer@nps.gov, 270-758-2192

Mammoth Cave Celebrates National Cave and Karst Day: June 6


MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky – Mammoth Cave National Park will celebrate the third annual National Caves and KarstDay on Thursday, June 6 by offering free surface programs to highlight the park’s expansive karstlandscape. The park observes National Cave and KarstDay along with the National Cave Association and caves around the United States who are holding special events to raise awareness of the importance of cavesand karst in our lives.


Karst landscapes are formed primarily by the dissolution of soluble rocks, typically limestone or dolomite, and is characterized by the presence of caves, sinkholes, sinking streams, springs, and subterranean rivers. Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest known cave and is currently mapped at 412 miles.  The cave is a prime example of karst topography in the south central Kentucky region, and has been recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve.

The free National Cave and KarstDay activities include a ranger led porch talk, nature tracks program, surface hikes, and an evening program entitled “A Journey Down the Drain: The Story of Sinkholes.” The park will have a limited number of Junior Ranger CaveScientist activity books on hand for children to complete to earn a special badge and title of Junior Cave Scientist. All surface activities are free with no reservations required. 

The park also offers several cave tours such as the Grand Avenue, River Styx, Frozen Niagara, and Domes and Dripstones tours that focus on cave geology. Fees for these tours vary and tickets can sell out quickly. It is recommended that visitors make tour reservations through www.recreation.gov prior to arrival.


For the full schedule of National Caves and KarstDayprograms at the park, please visit the June calendar at www.nps.gov/maca/planyourvisit/calendar.htm.

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National Caves Association celebrates third annual National Caves and Karst Day on June 6, 2019

Cobleskill, NY (May 2019) — Thursday, June 6, is the perfect day to get outside and go underground. That’s the day the National Caves Association (NCA) is celebrating the third annual National Caves and Karst Day. Caves around the U.S. will hold special events to raise awareness of the crucial roles both play in our lives. The goal is to encourage people to visit a cave not just on June 6, but anytime this summer.

“The scenic beauty of our country is not always above ground. National Caves and Karst Day serves as a great reminder to seek adventure and natural wonders through many of our caves easily available to the public,” Hugh Morrow, president and CEO of Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, Tennessee, said. “There are so many options available, from a pleasant stroll through incredible formations and water falls to challenging wild cave tours. All of these are experiences that will educate and prompt us to remember the power of nature and the complexity of our stunning environment.”

National Caves and Karst Day is a good time for families to map out their cave visits for the summer. If they’ve already planned vacations and road trips, or are looking for weekend excursions close to home, they can go to www.cavern.com to find what’s available in that region.

Here are 10 fun facts to know about caves and karst while planning a cave tour:

1. A cave is a naturally occurring area or space under the surface of the Earth. Caves are often a system of interconnected passageways created by the weathering of rock.

2. Most caves form in karst, which is terrain typically characterized by sinkholes, underground rivers and barren, rocky ground. Forty percent of the drinking water in the U.S. comes from karst aquifers.

3. Icicle-shaped speloethems, or rock formations, form as water drips from the cave roof. Stalagmites, which one might trip over, grow up from the floor, usually from the water that drips off the end of stalactites that cling tight to the cave roof. When these two meet, a column is formed.

4. Stalactites and stalagmites grow by only a fraction of an inch in a year, and since some are many yards in length, one can appreciate the time it takes for these speleothems to develop. In arid areas with little humidity, it can take a thousand years for a formation to grow one cubic inch.

5. We learn a lot from caves. Researchers collect broken formations to track historical weather trends dating back hundreds of thousands of years. Universities partner with privately owned caves to learn how bacteria can play a role in cancer treatment and the development of new antibiotics.

6. No two caves are alike. They can be found in glaciers, on mountaintops, in cliffs by the sea, in molten lava, in the desert and in hillsides.

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7. Caves are living things. Seepage from groundwater causes water to drip, which keeps formations growing and changing. A drop that falls onto a caver is called a cave kiss and is considered to be good luck.

8. Caves are known to have provided shelter to mankind’s earliest ancestors. Cliff dwellings, such as those found in the Four Corners region of the Southwest, were inhabited by Ancestral Puebloans as early as 550 A.D. Fossils dating back to the Ice Age have been found inside caves as well.

9. Caves are home to many forms of life that do not exist elsewhere. Troglobites, or cave- inhabiting creatures, are only found in caves and include certain species of shrimp, fish, blind salamanders, pseudoscorpions, spiders, millipedes and beetles.

10. There are many ways to experience the subterranean world. Guided walking and wild tours are the most common, but there are caves that offer kayaking, floating or boating on underground rivers; cave diving; wildlife spotting; campouts; concerts; rappelling and more.

“Caves are so important to our environment and celebrating National Caves and Karst Day helps people get a better understanding of why that’s true,” Lisa McClung, Lost Sea Adventure in Sweetwater, Tennessee. “The history, geology and the experience of going underground are fascinating. At Lost Sea, for example, the Cherokee used the cave for shelter. Later on, Confederate Soldiers mined the cave for nitrate in the soil to make gun powder.”

Spending time in a cave offers many benefits. Many studies report that spending time in nature can boost mental and physical well-being, improve concentration, increase energy, reduce stress and lower blood pressure and heart rates. When paired with exercise, such as hiking to or in a cave, the results are maximized. It’s quality time that a family can spend together, focusing on nature rather than screens.

In addition to celebrations held throughout the U.S., caves around the world will host special events on June 6. National Caves and Karst Day coincides with the International Show Caves Association’s International Day of Caves and the Subterranean World.

The NCA represents 90 show caves across the United States, Bermuda and Barbados. Most guided cave tours provide educational information about the geology and history of the area as well as tips for conservation. More information about the National Caves Association and its members can be found at www.cavern.com.

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About the National Caves Association

Founded in 1965 by a small group of private show cave owners from across the United States, the National Caves Association has been encouraging the public to discover the underground wonders of America’s show caves for 53 years. From a small group of about 30 show cave owners in 1965, the Association has grown over the years to a membership of more than 90 of the best show caves across the United States, Bermuda and Barbados. www.cavern.com

Sources:

• www.cavern.com

• www.britannica.com/science/karst-geology

• www.nationalgeographic.com/science/earth/surface-of-the-earth/caves

• www.encyclopedia.com/earth-and-environment/geology-and-oceanography/geology-and-

    oceanography/cave