World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Jewel Cave National Monument

Jewel Cave National Monument
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Map showing the location of Jewel Cave National Monument
Location Custer County, South Dakota, U.S.
Nearest city Custer, South Dakota
Coordinates
Area 1,273 acres (515 ha)[1]
Created February 7, 1908 (1908-February-07)
Visitors 77,146 (in 2011)[2]
Governing body National Park Service

Jewel Cave National Monument contains Jewel Cave, currently the third longest cave in the world, with 175 miles (282 kilometers) of mapped passageways.[3] It is located approximately 13 mi (21 km) west of the town of Custer in South Dakota's Black Hills. It became a national monument in 1908.[4]

Contents

  • History 1
  • Exploration 2
  • Hydrogeology 3
  • Access 4
  • References 5
  • See also 6

History

Frank and Albert Michaud, two local prospectors, discovered the cave in 1900, when they felt cold air blowing out of a small hole in a canyon. It is unknown whether any previous inhabitants of the area were aware of the natural cave opening, which was not large enough for a person to enter.[5]

Calcite crystals in Jewel Cave

After enlarging the cave entrance with dynamite, the Michauds found a cavern lined with calcite crystals, which led them to name it "Jewel Cave." The brothers tried to capitalize on the discovery, widening the opening, building walkways inside, and opening it to tourists. Although their venture was unsuccessful, news of the discovery eventually reached Washington. President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Jewel Cave a National Monument on February 7, 1908. The area around the natural entrance to the cave was further developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The National Park Service assumed management of the monument in 1933 and began offering tours in 1939.[5]

As recently as 1959, less than 2 miles (3.2 km) of passageway had been discovered. That year, however, Herb and Jan Conn, local rock climbers, began exploring, and within two years had mapped 15 miles (24 km). Much of the new discoveries lay outside the boundaries of the monument, under land managed by the United States Forest Service. The two agencies performed a land swap in 1965, establishing the present boundaries of the park, and enabling the development of a new part of the cave. The Park Service sunk a 300 feet (91 m) elevator shaft to a previously remote cave area, and built concrete walks and metal stairs and platforms along a one-half-mile loop. The "Scenic Tour" was opened in 1972. Most modern-day visitors tour that part of the cave. In August 2000, an 83,000 acres (340 km2) forest fire burned 90% of the monument and the surrounding area. The visitor center and historic buildings were spared.

Exploration

By 1979, Herb and Jan Conn had discovered, named, and mapped more than 64 miles (103 km) of passages. Although they largely retired from caving by the early 1980s, exploration has continued unabated. Because the areas being explored take many hours to reach, explorers now sometimes camp in the cave during expeditions of as long as four days. The cave is mapped by traditional survey techniques, using compass, clinometer and today with lasers instead of tape measures.[5]

Its 175.00 mi (281.64 km) of mapped passageway make Jewel Cave the third longest cave in the world, after Mammoth Cave System in Kentucky and Sistema Sac Actun at the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), at 193.07 mi (310.72 km).[3]

The discovered areas in the cave account for only about 3 to 5% of the estimated total air volume of the cave. The cave volume is estimated by measuring the amount of air that the cave "exhales" when the outside air pressure drops and "inhales" when the outside air pressure rises.[5]

Hydrogeology

Hydromagnesite balloon

Jewel Cave was formed by the gradual dissolution of limestone by stagnant, acid-rich water. The water enlarged a network of cracks that had formed during the uplift of the Black Hills approximately 60 million years ago. The layer of calcite crystals that covers much of the cave walls was created by the re-deposition of calcite from water saturated with the mineral.

After the water that formed the cave drained, speleothems (cave formations) began to form. Jewel Cave contains all the common types of calcite formations, such as stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, and frostwork, although not in the same abundance as other well-known caves. The dry parts of the cave contain some formations created by the deposition of gypsum, such as gypsum needles, beards, flowers, and spiders. Finally, Jewel Cave contains a very rare formation called a hydromagnesite balloon. Those are created when gas of an unknown source inflates a pasty substance formed by the precipitation of the magnesium carbonate hydroxide mineral.

Access

Jewel Cave is open year round. The Park Service offers three tours: the scenic tour, a half-mile loop through a paved and lighted central portion of the cave accessible by elevator; the historic tour, a candlelight tour through the earliest-discovered part of the cave; and a wild caving tour, through an undeveloped part of the cave near the scenic loop. There are 3 surface trails varying in length and difficulty.[5]

References

  1. ^ "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  2. ^ "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  3. ^ a b Bob Gulden (November 18, 2013). "Worlds longest caves". Geo2 Committee on Long and Deep Caves.  
  4. ^ "The National Parks: Index 2009–2011".  
  5. ^ a b c d e Jewel Cave brochure; National Park Service; GPO, WDC
  • Conn, Herb; Conn, Jan. The Jewel Cave Adventure: Fifty Miles of Discovery in South Dakota. (describes the exploration of Jewel Cave from its discovery to the mid-1980s)  
  • Palmer, Arthur. Jewel Cave: A gift from the past.  
  • The National Parks: Index 2001–2003. Washington, D.C:  

See also

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.