NOTE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the International Year Of Caves and Karst that began in 2021 has been extended through 2022! Please join us in continued celebration with virtual, hybrid, and in-person events throughout the 2022 year.
The National Park Servide is joining in the celebration of The International Year of Caves and Karst (IYCK) to help raise the level of understanding and respect for caves and karst as globally important physical, ecological, and cultural systems.The IYCK will be the largest ever event showcasing caves and karst landscapes across the world.
Caves are natural laboratories for preserving fossils, minerals, and records of past climates. Caves also provide habitats for unique and rare animals. Karst is a type of landscape that forms when rocks are dissolved by weak acids. Features that are often characteristic of karst terrains include caves, sinking or disappearing streams, sinkholes, and springs. The National Park Service manages approximately 5,000 caves, including four of the top 10 longest caves in the world. In the United States, 40% of fresh groundwater that we drink comes from karst aquifers.
The National Park Service and the National Natural Landmarks Program invite you to join in the celebration. Caves and karst areas are part of America’s Geoheritage because of their significant values, uniqueness, and diversity of natural features. We hope you can join us in the celebration and Discover What’s Under Your National Park!
Monthly Themes and Highlights
May 2022 - Cave Paleontology
Theme: Caves Preserve Evidence of Prehistoric Life
Introduction: Caves are important environments for the preservation of fossils. Caves act as sediment traps enabling the accumulation of fossils over thousands or even millions of years, and the stable temperature and humidity of caves help to preserve fossils. Cave fossils occur in two contexts, including: 1) fossils preserved within the bedrock in the caves formed; and 2) fossil remains of Pleistocene/Holocene animals and plants which either entered or lived in caves during their lives or were transported into the caves after death. Cave fossils are subdivided into four categories: fossil plants, invertebrates, vertebrates, and trace fossils.
Topics: Fossils in cave walls, fossils of cave dwellers, discoveries, preservation environment
National Park Service Cave Paleontology—https://www.nps.gov/subjects/caves/cave-paleontology.htm
Sharks, Fossils, and Caves: Secrets Revealed at Mammoth Cave—https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossils/paleontological-discoveries-at-mammoth-cave.htm
Rampart Cave: An Ice Age Tomb of the American Southwest—https://www.nps.gov/articles/fossils-of-the-2019-national-fossil-day-artwork.htm
An Inventory of Fossils at Carlsbad Caverns National Park—https://www.nps.gov/articles/an-inventory-of-fossils-at-carlsbad-caverns-national-park.htm
Share Your #IYCK2022
Join the vibrant virtual community of stewards, educators, and cavers in celebrating #IYCK2022. Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and share opportunities to learn and interact.
Connect with Cave and Karst Sites
Three Sources of Light Podcast—Carlsbad Caverns
Join park rangers for in-depth conversations that illuminate the diverse natural and cultural resources of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The podcast is produced by the Interpretation Division at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. New episodes will be posted periodically throughout 2021.
Celebrate Cave Week! June 5th – June 11th, 2022
Dozens of parks across the country participate in Cave Week by offering special tours, events, and web-based activities. Celebrate and share #CaveWeek.
Become a Junior Cave Scientist
Explore a fascinating and fragile underground world. Learn about caves and karst landscapes. Complete a few fun activities.
Virtual Tour of Lehman Caves—Great Basin National Park, Nevada
Take a three part video tour—created from 3D imagery!—through the amazing subterranean world of Lehman Caves.
Send comments or corrections to email us.
Last updated: May 4, 2022