• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota

Speleothems - Helictite Bushes

Dr. Jim Pisarowicz looks at helictite bushes on the way down to the Lakes
Jim Pisarowicz looks at helictite bushes on the way down to the Lakes
Photo by Rick Day
Certainly one of the most curious formations in Wind Cave are helictite bushes. While small helictites are found in many caves, the helictite bushes are large, bush-like growths of calcite that branch and twist like gnarled trees. The largest helictite bush in the cave is about 6 feet (2 meters) tall. The helictite bushes usually grow from the floor of the cave. The helictites may form when water seeps into the cave through pores so small that the flow is controlled by capillary action and not by gravity. This allows water to move uphill and deposit calcite against the force of gravity. It is also thought the bushes may have formed underwater when the water rising from below mixed with cave waters of a different chemistry.

More Speleothems:
Boxwork | Calcite Rafts | Cave Popcorn |
Dogtooth Spar | Flowstone/Dripstone |
Frostwork | Gypsum Features |

Click here to see a program about the formations of Wind Cave

Did You Know?

fire on the prairie

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.