Horn Coral Discovery
NPS Photo by Ken Geu
Trip: On 1/10/2011, Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu & Duff McCafferty on a trip to Browns Canyon in the Historic Section where they discovered horn corals.
Trip Report: We went back to Browns Canyon to continue surveying side leads off of the TT survey. We surveyed some parallel fissures and side leads and then tied into TT11, where there were a bunch of side leads. At TT11E we abandoned that bellycrawl because the floor was too delicate. We continued the TT11 survey into a little maze area underneath the old TT12 station and above the TT13 station. From TT11R, we surveyed down a fissure into a small hour-glass shaped room. We then surveyed up into some crawls where we found the first absolutely confirmed horn coral fossil in Wind Cave. We had found several suspected horn corals in the past, but they were badly recrystallized and difficult to confirm they were horn corals for sure. Ken took numerous pictures of these two excellently preserved (unrecrystalized) horn corals. I was very excited to find this confirmation that horn corals are found in Wind Cave. We then continued surveying over to a fissure and down to the room TT14 is located in. After surveying into a side passage from TT14, we surveyed up into a fissure above the main Browns Canyon passage and then to the south up a sloping passage that reconnected to the crawls we had been surveying earlier near the horn corals. As it was 9:00 PM by that point, we decided to call it a night. We surveyed 711 feet of passage for the day and left numerous leads for a future trip.
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Did You Know?
Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.