Virtual Field Excursions

Virtual tours unfortunately cannot replace the physical experience of visiting  Mammoth Cave National Park and the Mammoth Cave Area Biosphere Reserve. However, we be posting links to field guides, pre-recorded presentations, slideshows, and select virtual tours by August 1. Our field trip leaders will then go live for one hour Wednesday, August 19, 2020 (see schedule below), to present tour highlights, discuss related topics, and answer questions.  Registrants will have access to all field excursion options and like typical concurrent sessions will chose which one to attend by following the appropriate link.   Register here!

August 19, 10:00-11:00 CDT – Field trip leaders go live!

Karst Hydrogeology of Mammoth Cave National Park: Why is the World’s Longest Known Cave Here? Mammoth Cave National Park forms the core area of one of the world’s iconic karst landscape/aquifer systems also designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. Mammoth Cave itself has a known length of more than 660 km, with more explored and mapped continuously, and at least another 305 km of mapped passages lie nearby. This classic field excursion will explore the surface and subsurface landscapes of the Pennyroyal and Mammoth Cave Plateaus with a focus on understanding the geologic and climatic elements that have conspired to form the “perfect storm” of karst development that we see here. We will also discuss work of the pioneers of karst science who have been drawn here over the years. This trip will include visit to the Historic Section of Mammoth Cave.  Leaders: Dr. Will White, Professor Emeritus, The Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Art Palmer, Professor Emeritus, State University of New York at Oneonta, and Dr. Chris Groves, University Distinguished Professor of Hydrogeology, Western Kentucky University . Maximum 50 people.

Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management at Mammoth Cave. This trip will take place in the Historic Section and Lantern Tour Route of Mammoth Cave. Highlights from the historic era include remains of the 1812 saltpeter mining industry, structural remains from the experiment to cure consumption (tuberculosis) patients in the 1840s, and Gothic Ave. signature hall dating to the early 1800s. Highlights from Native American use of the cave include evidence for the mining of gypsum and other minerals, abundant perishable remains from this activity, and petroglyphs and pictographs. All of this activity dates between 3000 and 2000 years ago. The tour will start at the Mammoth Cave National Park Visitor Center and travel on walking trails, potentially covering several miles of trail, some of it using lantern light. Leaders: Dr. George Crothers, Associate Professor and State Archaeologist, University of Kentucky, and Ed Jakaitis, Cultural Resource Manager, Mammoth Cave National Park. Maximum 18 people.

August 19, 11:30-12:30

Urban Karst Challenges: A Remediation Success Story. This trip will focus on urban and industrial impacts to Hidden River Cave and what has been called “the greatest cave restoration success story in the United States.” Learn about how the American Cave Conservation Association played an integral role in changing a ‘domestic and industrial sewer’ back into a healthy cave ecosystem and show cave now visited by thousands of tourists and students each year. Activities include surface stops in the vicinity of the small town of Horse Cave, underground tour at Hidden River Cave, and time to explore the American Cave Museum. Leader: Dr. Pat Kambesis, Chair International Projects, Cave Research Foundation; Instructor of Geography/GIS, Western Kentucky University. Maximum 13 people.

Mammoth Cave Ecology. Join park specialists as they explore the ecological aspects of surface and subsurface locations in Mammoth Cave National Park.  The trip will focus on the interconnected nature of surface and subsurface ecosystems in a karst landscape, resource protection issues, and long-term monitoring strategies being implemented at Mammoth Cave National Park.  Examples to be discussed include regional and local human influences, processes linking surface and subsurface ecosystems, known subsurface communities, and potential vital signs. Leaders: Kurt Helf, Ecologist, Cumberland Piedmont Network, Rick Olson, Ecologist, Mammoth Cave National Park, and Rick Toomey, Cave Resource Management Specialist, Mammoth Cave National Park.