The above coordinates will take you to the Visitor Center inside a Florida state park which charges an entrance fee. You may review the current fee structure for entrance and guided tours of the caverns at Florida Caverns State Park.
NOTE: The park is still in a state of recovery from hurricane Michael, so please check the hyperlink above for updates.
Rocks are aggregates of mineral that comprise the earth’s crust. Yet the rocks have various appearance and physical properties depending on the kinds and amounts of minerals they contain. Geologists use a genetic classification of rocks, according to their origin: igneous, metamorphic or sedimentary.
Igneous rocks are formed deep within the earth’s molten interior. Sometimes they are brought to the surface during volcanic eruptions and are referred to as extrusives. Examples of these are basalts and pumice. The best-known example is granite. There are no igneous rocks exposed at the surface in Florida.
Metamorphic rocks also are formed deep beneath the earth’s surface by the heat, pressure and chemically active fluids. Additionally, there are no metamorphic rocks exposed at the surface in Florida.
All rocks exposed in Florida are of sedimentary origin. They are formed at the earth’s surface under normal temperatures and pressures. They form either by accumulation and cementation of fragments of rocks, minerals, the remains of plants or animals, or as precipitates of sea, surface or groundwater. Sedimentary are classified into three groups: clastics, chemical precipitates, and organic accumulations.
Chemical precipitates are formed from sea water, groundwater or other solutions on the earth’s surface. Some of the Florida rocks in this classification are anhydrite, gypsum, limestones, and some types of dolomites.
Limestone is found throughout Florida. Limestones are sedimentary rocks that contain more than 50 percent of the mineral calcite (CaCO3). Most limestone in Florida in biogenic in origin. A great many of species of marine and freshwater animals and plants secrete calcium carbonate as part of their life processes, forming shells and other internal and external support structures. When an organism dies its calcitic remains in the body of water. Over time these biogenic remains may become cemented together, forming limestone.
Rocks, sediments, landforms, and water across the state tell a fascinating story. Have you ever wondered why Florida has so many lakes, springs, beaches, and sinkholes? The answer lies within Florida’s vast geological past, which intertwines human history, earth history, ecosystems and economic development. The framework and foundation of all of Florida’s natural systems was created by geological processes that have shaped Florida’s landscapes over millennia.
A karst is an irregular limestone region with sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns. The development of karst occurs whenever acidic water starts to break down the surface of bedrock near its cracks, or bedding planes. As the bedrock (typically limestone or dolomite) continues to degrade, its cracks tend to get bigger. As time goes on, these fractures will become wider, and eventually a drainage system of some sort may start to form underneath. If this underground drainage system does form, it will speed up the development of karst formations there because more water will be able to flow through the region, giving it more erosive power. Springs are karst features formed by the dissolution of limestone. As their cool water flows to the earth’s surface, springs offer a window into the Floridan aquifer, which provides more than 90% of our drinking water. Sinkholes and caves are other karst features that allow you to experience the wonders of Florida geology.
Florida Caverns State Park caverns are as beautiful as the famous Mammoth Cave and Carlsbad Caverns. The beautiful Florida cavern is available for tours in a series of connected rooms. The rooms contain dazzling formations of stalactites, stalagmites, columns and other fascinating features. These features were created when surface water seeped through the limestone rock, dissolving the calcium. As the water containing dissolved calcium dripped from cracks in the ceiling, the process formed stalactites. Stalactites grew down from the ceiling. The water containing calcium that dripped from stalactites formed stalagmites below. They grew up from the cave floor. Columns eventually formed when some stalactites and stalagmites met. The creation of these formations took thousands of years.
In addition to these formations mentioned above, there are features that resemble soda straws, ribbons and draperies. There are fossils, pools of water and terraces. Many of these formations have been given names, such as the bacon rock, the South America pool, and the wedding cake.
To claim credit for this EarthCache, select this link to my profile page to MESSAGE OR EMAIL your answers to the questions below. Please DO NOT post your answers (pictures ONLY) in your log, even if encrypted.
You may discover the answers to the questions by taking the guided tour (RECOMMENDED) or by viewing the video in the Visitor Center. You may log your visit after sending your answers. I may respond with comments.
1. Photographs are allowed on the guided tours, so it would be fun to see one of you at your favorite spot in the cavern, or you may display one at the Visitor Center.
2. Explain why the temperature in the caverns is constant.
3. What mineral causes the orange colors to appear?
4. What mineral causes the white color to appear?
5. What is the estimated growth rate of the formations in the caverns?
6. Include the cache waypoint, GC8BW7P in the script of your message or email.
7. Optional if you take the guided tour, tell me of any animals/mammals that you encountered in the caverns.
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