Caving Narrative 1984 - July 12

Dr. Jim Martin careful searches for bones in the fill of the Chamber of Lost Souls
Dr. Jim Martin careful searches for bones in the fill of the Chamber of Lost Souls

NPS Photo

Craig Detempe, Jim Martin, Diane McCain, Warren Netherton

Duration of Trip:
6 hours

New Cave Surveyed:

The purpose of this trip was to show Dr. James Martin (from the South Dakota School of Mines), Diane McCain (undergraduate student), and Craig Detempe (graduate student) some bones found in the Chamber of Lost Souls. The Chamber is an old specimen collecting room and a number of popcorn encrusted rocks lie on a table sized piece of breakdown encountered immediately upon entering the room. To the right or south of this rock at floor level, in a fissure is a white stalactite with angle wings. The stalactite is less than 6 inches long. Elsewhere in the chamber are some very good examples of popcorn and some frostwork. Some is exceptionally good. The room is in the upper (limestone) level of the cave and has weathered walls and ceiling plus exposures of chert beds. There are some chert rocks found here that are coal black with no evidence of banding. Slopes of uncemented rock extend from the ceiling in several places. The bones are located in this rubble. In a number of places there is weathered rock that has been washed down a surface and re-solidified to form jagged edges of material on the edge of the rock. Pictures were taken of all the features mentioned above.

Dr. Martin was issued a collecting permit and collected several bones. From initial in-cave identification, he recognized the following: bat bones (jaw bone and various others), gopher, toe bone from a bison, rabbit, deer and mice. He believed all these were no older than the Pleistocene. Some had been chewed on by carnivores. It is interesting to note how rapidly he located bones with his trained eyes. In an area I had examined carefully for some time and located 3 or 4 small bones, he observed many more within moments.

This area is five minutes off the tourist trail. An easy chimney about 15 feet high must be negotiated. Some mud is encountered.

Report by: Warren Netherton

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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