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Shelta Cave EarthCache

Hidden : 03/18/2008
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Geocache Description:

Shelta Cave Nature Preserve

This Earth cache will carry you to Shelta Cave, it is located directly beneath the NSS national headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama. This is a Day Time Only Cache.

Shelta cave was the second NSS-owned preserve, purchased in 1967. Approximately 2500 feet long, the cave has one of the most outstanding underground ecosystems in North America. It is the type locality for several species of cave life, three beetles, two crayfish, a shrimp, and three other arthropods. Many other species are found in the cave. To this day, Shelta Cave continues to serve as the NSS' laboratory for cave biology.

Shelta cave has a rich modern day history. The cave was named after the daughter of Major Henry M. Fuller who owned the farm in the late 1800's. Fuller bought the farm and tried to develop the cave into a commercial enterprise. It was opened for walking tours, boat rides and dancing. Floorboards were built over the limestone cave floor for the dance hall.

It was purchased by NSS in 1967 and is not open for public tours. The coordinates will carry you to the gates just out side of the entrance of the cave.

Shelta cave is part of a large karst cave system that cover North Alabama region. The forming of karst caves is a complicated process and it is still a topic of geological research. The basic aspects are very simple though: rain water containing carbon dioxide CO2 soaks into the ground and is able to dissolve limestone. This is not a fast process, it can take millions of years and a cave in essence is continuously growing and changing as water works its magic in the wondrous world of the under ground.

The Value of the Karst cave environments offer a variety of scientific and educational opportunities. Karst provides scientists with a relatively undisturbed window into landform evolution, past environments, and climate change through the study of cave morphology and sediments.

The nature of a karst landscape though is a fragile system, it is a highly valuable, non-renewable resource that can be especially vulnerable to disturbance. Because of this we need to work hard to protect them and save this resource for the generations yet to come.

Other interesting facts about Shelta Cave:

Shelta cave is also home for Gray bats, The bats here are slowly making a come back. The new fencing placed in 2002 was one of the latest moves to help encourage bats to return. At one time it was estimated that about 25,000 bats called this place home. Now only a handful call this place home but with the conservation plan in place. The hopes are that this number will increase.

Shelta Cave was the first location in Madison County to have electric light. aside: not the type of light we are used to now, but carbon arc lamps They have remnants of one in the NSS office.

Shelta is the fourth cave listed on the Alabama Cave Survey.

While the cave is only 2500 feet long, it is fairly large inside with 20-30 foot ceilings and between 3-5 acres of lakes during the seasonal influx of groundwater in the rainy season. The largest room is approximately 500 x 700 feet and is supported by only one central column!!!! Seasonally, the cave experiences changes in groundwater level in the 20-25 foot range.

To receive get credit for this Earth Cache you will need to do the following.

1 Take a picture of yourself or group at the posted coordinates near the fence at the cave entrance with your GPS in hand.

2. Send me a email telling me, How wide in your estimation is the entrance to the cave?

Permission was given for this Earth Cache by: Preserve Manager, Paul Meyer.

Additional Hints (No hints available.)