NPS IYCK 2022 Monthly Themes and Highlights

January 2022 - Karst as a Landform

Theme: Identifying the surface features and characteristics that define karst as a landform.

Identifying karst from surface features

Introduction: In limestone (and other soluble rock types), water and time will lead to the formation of caves but also characteristic and unique surface terrain, with closed surface depressions, rock pinnacles and loosing streams.

Topics: Rock types, unique karst surface features (pinnacles), how water dissolves rock, disappearing streams, sinkholes (in general)

Hashtags: #KarstLandforms


February 2022 - Pseudokarst

Theme: Surface and topographic features that mimic those found within karst.

Introduction: Closed depressions, disappearing streams and even caves can form through processes unrelated to the dissolution of bedrock. These features in non-soluble bedrock are termed pseudokarst.

Topics: Volcanic caves, Talus Caves

Hashtags: #Pseudokarst #lavatubes #volcaniccaves


March 2022 - Sinkholes: Good and Bad

Theme: Dolines, swallets, cockpits, poljes, gulf and avens, are all names for closed topographic features.

Introduction: Surface depressions can form through the underlying dissolution of the bedrock causing the surface materials to fall into or collapse. In developed areas, catastrophic sinkhole collapse can cause significant damage and loss of life. This can range from soils and sediments to Corvettes.

Topics: Corvette Sinkhole

Hashtags: #TruthAboutSinkholes #SinkholeTallTales #SinkholesGoodAndBad


April 2022 - Ice and Glacier Caves

Theme: Ephemeral Caves

Introduction: Ice caves that form in ice are called Glacier Ice Caves. Meltwater moving through glaciers forms this type of cave. Caves formed in rock that contain ice all year-round are referred to as Ice Caves.

Topics: Climate Change; Glaciers; Fire and Ice (ice in volcanic caves), Ice in Caves, Ice as water source in arid regions

Hashtags: #Climate Change I’m melting #IceCaves #GlacierCaves #EphemeralCaves


May 2022 - Karst & Climate Change

Theme: Speleothems within limestone caves can record past climate variations

Introduction: Mineral deposits within caves, known as speleothems, capture rare elements, isotopes and chemical traces that are linked to precipitation, temperature and vegetation type at the surface. The near constant temperature and humidity conditions found deep in some caves can allow for steady growth of speleothems and the variations within, whose composition can be linked to past changes in climate.

Topics: stable isotopes, geochemistry, speleothems, stalagmites, stalactites

Hashtags: #ClimateChange; #KarstClimateChange #PaleoClimateSpeleothems


June 2022 - Caves and Art

Theme: Paleolithic cave paintings to tee-shirt graphics, caves inspire creativity

Introduction: The exploration of caves is both scientific and creative. Cave maps by modern explorers to the pictographs and petroglyphs of the earliest human explorers, are a testament to the allure of caves. Caves can also inspire people to create in all sorts of media and mediums, from paintings to tee-shirts.

Topics: Cultural use around the world and throughout time

Hashtags: #RockArt #CaveArt #PetroglyphsAndPictographs #TheOriginalGraffitiArtists


July 2022- Cave Mythology and Karst in Cultures

Theme: From Oztoteotl to Plato, caves can be sacred and feature in the mythos of many past and current cultures.

Introduction: In some Native American Cultures, such as Hopi beliefs, the appearance of humans was through a cave out into the world. Even the Buddha would retreat to a cave for meditation. A multitude of beliefs revolve around caves as “gate ways”; Hades was a cave and even leprechauns kept their gold in a fairy inhabited cavern.

Topics: Caves feature that feature into the stories that we tell ourselves.

Hashtags: #CaveMythology #CaveKarstCulture #JourneysIntoCaveLegends


August 2022 - Caves in History and the History of Caving

Theme: Caves have been shelters and places of wonder for humans. Into the dark our curiosity was drawn.

Introduction: Caves have been a lure to the human spirit of exploration for likely as long as humans could carry a torch. Mammoth Cave was extensively explored with the use of river reed torches by Native Americans during between 5,000 to 4,000 years ago. Elsewhere caves were explored and decorated such as those found in Indonesia and Europe with artwork upwards of 50,000 years old or more. Modern-day cave science starts in the late-1800s with the father of speleology, Edouard Alfred Martel with his studies on caves in Europe.

Topics: Early exploration for science. Pre-historic exploration.

Hashtags: #CaveHistory #CavingHistory #ExploreTheDark


September 2022 - Sea and Lakeside (littoral) Caves

Theme: Shoreline process can make a beach... but wave action on stone can sometimes carve out a cave.

Introduction: Not all caves are formed in limestone. Sea Caves or littoral caves can form in a body of water where wave action can carve a void into the rock. Additionally, littoral caves that are currently underwater or well above the water line can inform us about changes in sea or lake level or uplift of land.

Topics: Sea caves a type of pseudokarst. Paleo-sea cave for understanding lake or ocean level changes.

Hashtags: #SeaCaves #LittoralCaves


October 2022 - Cave Dirt and Microbes

Theme: Caves are a hole in the ground, but they can be full of dirt. This dirt was often the source of an important ingredient for gun powder. More recently, dirt from caves have shed light on past climates and environmental changes.

Introduction: Sediments can accumulate within a cave through a variety of means. Caves are tied to local hydrology or the elevation of near-by streams, known as base level. Changes in base level occur on a millennial time scale and these alterations can flood a cave. With these floods will come sediment and in the quiet confines of a cave, bury the passages from the inside. Sometimes, the millennia allow for the undisturbed accumulation of animal waste, such as bat guano. Within the dirt and walls of caves, are microbes some that have been sealed off from the surface for millions of years. Some that may play a role in speleothem growth.

Topics: paleo climate studies, historic saltpeter mining

Hashtags: #DigIntoHistory #CaveDirt


November 2022 - Showcaves

Theme: Show caves are an accessible way for learning about caves.

Introduction: Show caves are a way to experience the underground world. Caves like Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s Nāhuku Cave (Thurston lava tube) to the massive halls of Mammoth Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, are windows into the underground for many people.

Topics: Lemman Caverns, Mammoth Cave and Oregon Caves

Hashtags: #ShowCaves #SeeTheUnderground


December 2022 - Caves are out of this World: Extraterrestrial Caves

Theme: Caves: Not just for planet Earth

Introduction: Caves are not unique to Earth. The moon, Mars and likely other planets have caves or are thought to have caves

Topics: Lava flows contain the most caves other than those found in carbonate rock. Lava is abundant on the Moon and Mars and the have been thought to also contain lava tubes. Imagery from Mars and Moon orbiting satellites have confirmed this. Some lave tubes on the Moon are thought to be a kilometer or more wide. The future of cave exploration might be out of this world, and may be the locations for future habitation in outer space.

Hashtags: #CavesAreOutOfThisWorld #OffEarthCaving


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Last updated: January 27, 2023


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