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For this earthcache, you are going to visit a great cave, named Cliff Cave.
While there, you are going to perform a field exercise. You will need a thermometer that is capable of measuring outdoor air temperatures. You will also need a camera. These items are required for you to ultimately claim a find, so please plan and come prepared.
Under no normal circumstances should you attempt to enter the cave. It is dangerous inside. The cave is protected within Cliff Cave County Park, and can only be explored by permit from the St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation.
How Caves Are Formed
Caves are formed in many ways. By far, the most common way is by the dissolution of sedimentary rock by acidic water. There are other forces that can create caves. Following are the descriptions of several.
Solution Caves - By far, the most common caves are solution caves. These caves are formed through the interaction of air, water, soil, and rock. They usually form in areas where the dominant rock is limestone, a type of sedimentary rock. Many solution caves feature streams and lakes and unusual mineral formations. Typically, a cave like this forms over a period of several million years.
Slump Caves - Slumping, in geological terms, occurs when large sections of rock or a land mass moves its position away from or toward other sections of rock or land mass, usually in the direction of a downslope. The speed for this movement is typically very very slow, however, quick changes can occur, especially with the occurrence of earthquake activity or frequent flooding. Slump caves can be formed when two large sections of rock move together and voids occur between the sections.
Sea Caves - Over time, waves crashing against the base of a cliff can form a sea cave. A sea cave forms along a vertical zone of weakness in the rock, perhaps a crack or an area of softer rock. The erosive power of the waves wear away the rock, creating an opening that can deepen and expand with an overhang where the cliff rises above the waves. Sea caves are typically found in sedimentary rock such as sandstone and limestone. They are less commonly formed in hard rock such as granite.
Lava Caves - Lava, which is molten rock on the surface of the earth, can create long intricate cave systems. When lava flows, it typically flows down a slope in a shape that resembles a long skinny tongue. The "tongue" is a channel of flowing lava, with the hotter, faster-flowing lava in the center of the channel and the cooling lava closer to the edges of the channel. The cooling lava on the edges solidifies, forming walls and eventually a "crust" over the top of the lava flow. When the eruption stops, the remaining lava flows out of the voids and a tube-like cave remains. Additional lava flows can occur over the top of the cave, burying the cave deeper and deeper.
Bacteria-formed Caves - There are bacteria that thrive on oil deposits deep within the earth. These bacteria, which are named extremophiles because they thrive in extreme conditions, expel a gas that combines with oxygen to create sulfuric acid. This highly corrosive acid eats away at limestone, leaving behind gypsum, and creating the large voids of caves. This bacterial process can feed upon itself, with some of the bacteria eating the byproducts and other minerals, accelerate the formation of caves.
Manmade - The word "cave" implies a feature created by natural forces, therefore there really is no such thing as a manmade cave. We have other words to describe the holes that humans have created in the earth. Humans have dug holes for many reasons, including shelter, passage, mining, disposal, battle, escape, etc.
Basic Geology Of Cliff Cave
Cliff Cave is a solution cave. It is formed from rock from the St. Louis Limestone formation from the Mississippian Period. The limestone rock is 362 to 320 million years old. The cave was formed during the Ice Age, and the best theories have the cave formation starting during either the Yarmoth Interglacial Period (300,000 to 600,000 years ago) or the Aftonian Interglacial Period (700,000 to 900,000 years ago).
The current mapping of the cave from the Missouri Geological Survey, Rolla, defines the cave's length as 4726 feet. The cave has four separate entrances, and contains many interesting geological formations inside, such as a natural bridge, falls, domes, tubes, etc. However, the cave has very few "typical" Ozark cave formations such as flowstone, stalactites or stalagmites.
Basic History Of Cliff Cave
The cave is believed to have been discovered and used by humans as early as 7850 BC. The cave has a lot of Native American history, so much so that it is sometimes called Indian Cave. The cave has history with the Osage, Illini, Chickasaw. and Choctaw. The Osage and Illini saw the cave as sacred, likely because in winter months, the cave emits a visible mist through its openings, a sign to the people of the presence of the spirit being.
From 1830 to 1880, the Cliff Cave Wine Company used the cave to store and age wine. The man-made brickwork and masonry that you see there was constructed by the wine company. In the 1910s, Anheuser-Busch stored beer in the cave.
In the 1920s, the Mob dumped bodies in the cave. From the 1700s through just recently, the cave has always periodically been the site for recreational activities, crime, and debauchery.
In 1993, a number of counselors and children were killed when, during an exploration outing, they were trapped in the cave by a flash flood. In recent history, there have been repeated occurrences of people becoming lost inside the cave.
Basic Ecology Of Cliff Cave
Currently, the cave stream is almost dead and supports only a few frogs and cave isopods. In the past, before urban pollution destroyed the fragile habitat of the cave, it supported albino crayfish, albino salamanders, and blind fish. The Big Brown Bat and the Eastern Pipistrelle (bat) still live in the cave.
Vandalism, uncontrolled digging and excavation, spray painting, and pollution have taken a toll on the natural appearance and habitat of the cave.
According to Earthcache rules, in order to claim the find, you must perform an educational task. So, I ask that you do the following:
Requirement 1: Measure The Temperature Difference
This is a big cave, and when you approach the posted coordinates, you are going to notice a temperature difference in the air flowing from the cave. Especially if it is a hot day, you are going to feel much cooler air. If it is a cold day, the air will be warmer andbalmier as you approach.
When you reach the posted coordinates, place your thermometer such that it is in the air flow from the cave, away from direct sunlight. Leave it there for ten minutes and then record the measured temperature.
Now, back at the parking lot, do the same. Place the thermometer in the grass next to the parking lot (away from direct sunlight, and not on the hood of your car), and leave it there for ten minutes. Then record the measured temperature at that location.
Compare the two measurements. What is the temperature difference?
Requirement 2: Find Some Answers
Not far from the cave, you will find an interpretive display that describes cave formation and geology. The display is located at N38° 27.525 W090° 17.265. From that display, find answers to the following questions.
1. Most cave passages contain a material which consists of deposits that are washed into the cave, such as sand, gravel, or clay. What is material known as?
2. The study of caves is called speleology. According to the display, what four fields of science is it based on?
Requirement 3: Email
Send me an email through gc.com that provides your temperature readings and answers.
Requirement 4: Photo
Post a photo of yourself with the entrance of the cave in the background. Post your photo on the cache page with your find log.The photo should clearly show that you were present at the cave. I do not care about your GPSr appearing in the photo.
Post your photos with your online log, and email me with your answers. Logs not accompanied by email and photo within a reasonable amount of time will be deleted per Earthcache rules.
Have lots of fun!
(No hints available.)
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum