Before logging this cache, you will descend into what some have called ‘The 8th Wonder of the World’, and currently one of only 20 World Heritage sites recognized in the United States. So it is well worth taking a little time to learn something about how this astonishing place was formed. To log the cache you must send email to the cache owner providing answers to the questions listed below. When logging as a group, each person must submit the answers individually. Pictures are much appreciated, but due to current geocaching rules are not required. It is not necessary to wait for a reply before logging the cache. DO NOT post answers in your log. Note: You must go down the Natural entrance in order to find the correct answers to these questions. Be advised that the Natural entrance closes at 2pm during the off-season.
The formation of Carlsbad Caverns began with the creation of the Capitan Reef, a 400-mile long Permian-age fossil reef formed in an inland sea, not from coral, but from the remains of sponges, algae, seashells, and calcite precipitated from the water. Eventually the water evaporated, leaving the reef buried under salt and gypsum deposits.
Faulting and stresses of the earth’s crust caused uplifting of the reef almost ten thousand feet, while forces of erosion wore away the softer minerals, exposing the ancient reef and forming the Guadalupe Mountains. As tectonic forces pushed the mountains up, the level where the rooms and passages in the cave were being formed moved lower, creating nearly horizontal levels connected by steep passages. There are more than 110 known caves within the park, including some of the biggest and longest in the world. Carlsbad Caverns was one of the last caves to be dissolved in the Guadalupe Mountains.
Carlsbad Caverns offer examples of spectacular "decorations", or "speleothems", including aragonite crystals, cave pearls, columns, draperies, flowstone, helictites, popcorn, rimstone dams, soda straws, stalagmites, and stalactites. During your adventure you will pass instructional signs along the way, one of which is near the posted coordinates. The path can be traversed in only one direction, so read the signs carefully to learn about how these unforgettable formations were created.
- Water and __________ formed __________ to dissolve cavities in the limestone.
- Seeping ground water, a weak carbonic acid, permeated vertical cracks or "joints" and dissolved the stone, forming cavities. What is this process called? (This is the third and last word of the title on one of the signs on the trail. It is not the answer given in the Visitor Center.)
- Speleothems are formed when __________ is released from ground water containing __________, depositing __________.
I am wholly conscious of the feebleness of my efforts to convey in words the deep conflicting emotions, the feeling of fear and awe, and the desire for an inspired understanding of the Divine Creator’s work which presents to the human eye such a complex aggregate of natural wonders. -- Robert Holley, Inspector, U.S. Department of the Interior
A high terrain rating is given because parts of the trail are steep, and may not be advisable for people with weak knees or ankles. The 1-mile self-guided tour descends over 750 feet, and should be taken only by people in good physical condition.