Recent Significant Discoveries in Wind Cave

Between the spring of 1999 and the winter of 2006, a number of significant discoveries were made in Wind Cave that have cave management implications. These discoveries were made during the on-going exploration, survey, and inventory of undocumented passages in Wind Cave. Much of this survey was conducted in the interior sections of the cave. Some of these discoveries were made in newly discovered passages entered for the first time, while others in passages that were originally explored up to 100 years previously, but never surveyed. Many of these discoveries were made by volunteers participating in the Wind Cave survey project. During this time, the length of the Wind Cave survey was extended from 80.5 miles to 114.19 miles. The cave became the sixth longest cave in the world on 8/11/04, the fifth longest on 1/8/05, and then the fourth longest on 2/11/06. Wind Cave's current length as of 7/16/08 is 129.78 miles.

• Iron fixing filamental bacterial strands – which are spider web like fossils mineralized with iron oxide, were discovered in the Historic Section.

What the Hell – dropped enough that we could pass this obstacle and get to the deep point in the cave and the lakes for the first time in five years.

Vega Lake – was found to have water, the first lake discovered in the Southern Comfort Section.

Phantom Lake – the 1st major lake (200-feet long by 6-feet deep) found outside of the Lakes Section was found in 1999. This lake essentially dried up by 2004.

• Shallowest cave passage – which receives immediate water intake after heavy rains, was found 5-feet below the sidewalk in Wind Cave Canyon.

Rio Colorado – found in the Southern Comfort Section, was only the 2nd area in the cave found to have running water and the first area outside of the Lakes Section.

• Root 89 – an old filled-in entrance & source of stream-worn bones in the Chamber of Lost Souls was discovered near the Natural Entrance.

• Major trend – of cavern development was delineated and the complexity of the cave illustrated by survey in the interior of Wind Cave, resulting in new theories on how the cave formed.

• Flexible boxwork - made out of a clay mineral, possibly sepolite, was first found in the Southern Comfort Section.

• Romanechite - a manganese oxide mineral produced by weathering, was found in a paleo karst pocket in the Western Fringe Section.

• Iron oxide pseudomorphs after pyrite – were found in paleokarst pockets in the Historic Section.

• Manganese deposit – nearly ½” thick and covering a 1’ x 2’ area, was found in the Historic Section and named “The Manganese Stop.”

• Air exchange - with the surface was found in several domes located underneath drainages, suggesting that the cave is a lot “leakier” than previously thought.

• Gypsum rope – estimated to be 14” long, was found in the Historic Section in a room that was named the Golden Rope Room.

• Seismic Hall – was determined to have zebra rock lower in the Madison Formation than any other place previously known in the cave.

• Hobsons Bypass – a major airflow route between the Historic and Club Room Sections of the cave, was discovered.

• Roots - were found in two domes along the north edge of the cave, both located near the surface.

Woodrats – were discovered in the Hades area in the Historic Section, which is located 80-feet below the surface on the north boundary of the cave and a long way from the nearest entrance.

• Profusely decorated area – named the Rio Colorado, was found in the Southern Comfort Section.

• Alvin McDonald signatures – were documented at several previously unknown sties in the Historic Section.

Wind Cave Temperature Fluctuation Study

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747

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