Equipment required: Flashlights, pencil, paper
The caves in Rockwood Conservation Area are another unique feature created by the runoff of the Wisconsin glacier. Within the conservation area you will find an extensive network of 12 solution caves. The erosion of sedimentary rock created this cave system when an underground stream flowed through the rock. The cave system is one of the most extensive systems found in Ontario and exhibits depositional features including stalactites, columns and flowstone.
Cave Description and Access
This is the largest cave opening within Rockwood Conservation Area. Access to the earthcache is along the trail that leads north of the dam. Cave is right beside the main trail. As you enter the large chamber of the cave opening it starts to slope downward the further in you go. At the back of the chamber is a small tunnel opening that leads deeper into the cave network. It is not necessary to enter that small opening to do this earthcache, but it may be fun to explore. If you do decide to explorer deeper you will need to crawl in on your belly. Many people come to Rockwood each year to explore deeper within this cave.
On each side of the main cave opening are archways/tunnels that you can explorer. When facing the cave, the one on the right is short and easy to see how it goes through the rock from the outside into the main chamber. There is a similar tunnel to the left, however that tunnel is much longer and extensive. To the left of the large cave opening is a smaller one that is about 4-5 feet tall at the entrance. If you go in a couple meters you can find a nice example of flowstone. The flowstone is located in a interesting spot as it is the only spot here that is taller than the opening and you can stand upright to examine it. It's like sticking your head and upper body into a chimney or shaft. As you go in a few meters further the cave gets small and narrow and becomes a tunnel which can be crawled through. This is the location one of your team members will need to position themselves at in order to do part of this earthcache.
Flowstone is perhaps the most common of all cave deposits, and is almost always composed of calcite or other carbonate minerals. It forms in thin layers which initially take on the shape of the underlying floor or wall bedrock beneath, but tends to become rounded as it gets thicker. Flowstone masses are often fluted with draperies at their lower end. Impurities in the calcite may give a variety of colors to flowstone, such as reddish areas likely due to iron. Flowstone forms from actively flowing water (rather than water squeezed through cracks) in which carbon dioxide is lost and carbonate material is deposited. This is the basic mechanism forming stalagmites as well, and the two often form together. Continuous flowstone deposits may cover vast areas of a cave floor or flow for hundreds of vertical feet down the side of vertical shafts.
Tasks and Logging Requirements
1) Find the flowstone within the left opening (it's in the chimney or shaft like opening a couple meters in). Describe it's appearance such as how wide it is and high it is. Is it smooth or rough to the touch? What colours do you see within the flowstone?
2) Look around in the left opening the main cave or any other place within this part of the cave system. Do you see any other examples of flowstone and how does it differ from the one you examined above.
3) Work with another team member. One person should enter the left opening as far as they can and shine a flashlight into the tunnel. Feel free to crawl into the tunnel if you are feeling adventurous. The other person should enter the main cave and look along the left side of the main cave. Can you see the light that the person in the left opening is shining into the tunnel? Do the reverse also, from within the main cave, shine your light into various opening within the left wall of the main cave and see if the person at the other end of the tunnel can spot the light. Did each of you see the light from each other? Based on your observations with your lights, is there a tunnel that goes through from the left opening to the main cave and how long is it?
4) How much longer is the tunnel by the left opening compared to the right opening described above in the cache listing?
5) Optional: Crawl into the left opening and draw a map of the tunnel and it's branches. Indicate the areas on your map where you are able to crawl and where it is too narrow for a person to go through. Can you make it through the tunnel to another opening? Feel free to post a copy of your map so others can see it and add to it too. You can also map out the area that you can enter through the back of the main cave.
Email me the answers to the above questions and then go ahead and log this earthcache. Feel free to post pictures too.
** Please note that there is a fee to enter Rockwood Conservation Area. See additional waypoints for entrance location.