• Explore and Discover One of the Last Frontiers in the World ...

    Jewel Cave

    National Monument South Dakota

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  • Caution - Roadwork on Highway 16 - Expect Delays

    Construction projects both along highway 16 and the Jewel Cave parking lot are planned during the summer. The visitor center is open daily with tours scheduled throughout the day. Come early, pm tours are usually full. No reservations for cave tours.

  • Highway 16 construction near Jewel Cave entrance

    Construction of Highway 16 through Jewel Cave National Monument is progressing on schedule. Motorists should use caution while traveling through the construction zone. Visitors to Jewel Cave should plan extra travel time and come early in the day. More »

  • The parking lot at Jewel Cave takes shape

    Jewel Cave's parking lot project is on schedule for completion by September 30. The patio area outside the visitor center is planned for work in August. Signage along a service road and staff assistance will help guide visitors to the visitor center. More »

Current Research

There is much that we don't know about Jewel Cave. Ongoing research contributes greatly to our understanding and effective management of the cave.

 
Ultrasonic anemometer recording airflow data

An ultrasonic anemometer measures the speed and direction of airflow.

Airflow Study

Since 2003, a cave climatologist has been conducting a cave airflow study in the Black Hills. He has placed ultrasonic anemometers and temperature loggers in several barometric caves, including Jewel Cave and Wind Cave.

Ultrasonic anemometers are highly sensitive instruments that can measure not only the velocity of airflow, but also the direction, temperature, and vertical flow component. This study is an attempt to better understand the dynamics of cave airflow, to calculate cave volume, and to determine whether or not the studied caves are connected to each other.

At Jewel Cave, airflow has been measured at the Historic Entrance and at constrictions leading to the eastern and western branches of the cave. Click here to listen to cave specialist Mike Wiles discuss the airflow study.

 
A microbial sample incubates in Jewel Cave

A sample of "corrosion residue" incubates in a glass tube.  The microbial DNA in the sample will then be sequenced.

Microbiology Study

A microbiologist recently began a study of microorganisms found deep inside Jewel Cave.

A pilot study was conducted in 2001 to determine if microbes were present in samples of "corrosion residue," a powdery substance that coats the walls in some cave passages. The pilot study found stalked bacteria, with morphological similarities to organisms found in Lechuguilla Cave, New Mexico.

More samples were collected in 2005, and are currently incubating in glass tubes inside the cave. DNA will be extracted from these samples and compared with sequence databases in order to determine closest relatives. These cave microbes have the potential to be unique species found nowhere else on earth.

Did You Know?

Bird Bath Conulite

Jewel Cave is world renowned for its crystal-lined passages and rare cave formations such as hydromagnesite balloons and conulites.