Saturday, August 01, 2009

Eureka Springs, Part #2- SPELUNKING

I grew up in Antioch, TN (suburb of Nashville) and there was a cave that we simply called the "Antioch Cave". Not many people went to the cave and it was not a tourist attraction. I suppose you could call it a "wild" cave. Anywho, that was my first cave experience. Since then, I've been to a few caves and really appreciate the beauty of the sub-terrain.
This weekend we visited Cosmic Caverns, just outside of Eureka Springs. I had the opportunity to talk to the owner and I learned a lot about the ownership of the cave and caves in general. It made me want to buy Antioch Cave in Nashville and open it for tours!

Being in the Geosciences department at WKU, I had heard a lot of the terminology of caves. WKU has a great Karst department and Mammoth Cave is on the doorsteps of WKU. Despite that, I got to learn a lot about certain formations at Cosmic Caverns, especially the "soda straw" formations. They actually have a soda straw formation that is over 9 feet long! It was quite a site.

In addition to the soda straw formations, the bottomless lakes were pretty cool. While there were not originally any fish in the water, the lake now has some rainbow trout that are fed on each tour. The above picture is the first bottomless lake on the tour.

Moving along to the brain...

The "brain" at Cosmic Caverns looks pretty It sits on a ledge that's called the "Operating Table". If you look at it, it appears there is a brain, some guts, a finger, and a big toe. Made for some cool formations!

The #1 rule is caving is DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING. Human oil from our hands will destroy the formations. The brain formation is the only one that you are allowed to touch in Cosmic Caverns. If you notice, the formation is turning black from the oils on our fingers. Wicked, huh?

For you cave fans, there are several different formations in Cosmic Caverns including some cool soda straw columns, flowstone, and my personal favorite... drapery (AKA bacon) formations. There's also some very fragile Helictite. I snapped this shot of it:
You can bet that I'll be taking the boys here one day! I will have to handcuff them so they do not touch anything!


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