Abstract - Formation and Detailed Description of a Portion of Wind Cave-Spiral Stairs Traverse

Aberle, Peter P. 1961. The Formation and Detailed Description of a Portion of Wind Cave-Spiral Stairs Traverse. Geological Engineering Department, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (for partial fulfillment of a Bachelor of Science Degree). 28 p.


Wind Cave lies on the southern edge of the Black Hills. It was formed in the Pahasapa limestone by the solution below the water table. The Spiral Stair Traverse which is appoximately 450 feet long begins in the main passage way immediately below the first flight of stairs below the entrance and is directly opposite the Fairies' Palace Traverse. (Coulson and Rosenberg 1958).Prominent features on the traverse are the box work and popcorn deposits, however neither is of an extraordinary nature. Studies of the clay minerals contained in 12 samples of "cave earth" from throughout the cave by Differential Thermal Analysis and X-Ray Diffraction Techniques revealed the presence of illite in ten samples. Quartz and ferrio oxide in clay-sized particles were present in all samples. The mineralogy of non-clay particles greater than 0.005mm was determined by petrographic and binocular microscope methods. These minerals consisted of tourmalin, iron oxides, gypsum, garnet, actinolite, phenacite, rutile(?), and maghamite(?). Accessory mineral assamblages indicate that nine of the twelve samples could possibly have been derived from solution of the limestone. Two samples containing actinolite, garnet and clay of an undetermined type are from an undetermined origin. Sediments at station 153 may have been derived from the overlying Minnelusa formation. In well cuttings from two near by wells the lower Minnelusa contained sandstone pebbles similar to those observed at station 153.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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