Natural Bridge Caverns Celebrates Second Annual National Caves and Karst Day on June 6, 2018
Natural Bridge Caverns to Host Facebook Live Chat With Experts from UT Austin and the Edwards Aquifer Authority in Castle of the White Giants 165 Feet Underground
Natural Bridge Caverns, TX (June 1, 2018) —Natural Bridge Caverns joins cave enthusiasts from around the world to increase awareness about the importance of caves and karst landscapes. Celebrated as the International Day of Caves & the Subterranean World, June 6th is now officially recognized in the United States as National Caves & Karst Day.
“Caves and karst landscapes are places of wonder and majestic beauty. We see the recognition of the importance of our subterranean world increasing worldwide,” said Brad Wuest, president of the International Show Caves Association, and president of Natural Bridge Caverns. “Show caves worldwide are embracing their role of protecting and preserving caves and providing a place for people to learn about these special natural, cultural and historical resources. Show caves also play another important nature tourism role of sustainable development, providing jobs and helping the economy of their regions.”
As part of their educational outreach, Natural Bridge Caverns on June 6 will host a Facebook live chat moderated by Brian Vauter, staff geologist, and featuring Marcus Gary, Ph.D., P.G. senior hydrogeologist at the Edwards Aquifer Authority and Corinne Wong, research associate at The University of Texas at Austin. The chat will be broadcast from the Castle of the White Giants, 165 feet underground, at 12:30 p.m.
“Understanding caves and karst is important because about 10% of the Earth’s surface is occupied by karst landscape and as much as 25% of the world’s population depends upon water supplied by karst areas. Almost everyone knows about caves, but only a small percentage of people have even heard of karst,” said Wuest, third generation of the family to own and operate Natural Bridge Caverns. “Karst is a landscape that’s typically characterized by sinkholes, caves, springs, aquifers, and rocky hills like our Texas Hill Country. The landscape and sinkhole at Natural Bridge Caverns and the Caverns themselves are excellent examples of karst. Caves and karst are rich in resources, including 175 different minerals, a few of which have only been found in caves. Forty percent of the drinking water in the U.S. comes from karst aquifers.”
“Caves also are repositories of pre-history and more recent history, too,” continued Wuest. “The earliest known cave paintings in Europe are estimated to be 64,000 years old. Projectile points and stone tools dating back 10,000 years were found at Natural Bridge Caverns and we are listed in the National Register of Historic Places for the site’s archeological significance. Some caves are rich in paleontology with fossils and the bones of prehistoric animals. Caves have played more recent history-making roles from the mining of bat guano in Mammoth Cave to make gun powder for the War of 1812 to Bedeilhac Cave which held a French, then German. aircraft hangar during World War II.”
Wuest noted that exploration and scientific research is taking place in caves around the world by speleologists. Caves are being discovered, surveyed and studied yet the world is full of caves that have never been seen by a human. Researchers sample formations to track historical weather trends dating back hundreds of thousands of years to learn about climate. Unique species are discovered inside caves, some of which are found nowhere else. Rain and surface water is traced as it percolates through karst landscapes and caves into aquifers to create modeling and better understand how to protect our precious water resources.
Every cave has something different to offer. Natural Bridge Caverns has been recognized as one of the premiere caverns in the country and the largest commercial cave in Texas. The attraction includes the original Discovery Tour dating from the opening of the Caverns in 1964 and four other tours that give visitors a unique way to see the attraction. Cavern tours take guests 180 feet below the surface and feature vast rooms and winding passages filled with geologic treasures from gigantic towers to delicate formations of soda straws and cave ribbon. Natural Bridge Caverns has been designated a State Historical Site and a National Natural Landmark.
There are many benefits to spending time in a cave, no matter which one people choose. It’s quality family time, forming memories together during summer vacations or staycations near home. It can spark a child’s interest in science that could shape their future. Spending time in nature, as evidenced in many studies, can boost mental and physical well-being, improve concentration, increase energy, reduce stress and lower blood pressure and heart rates. Pair it with exercise, such as hiking to or in a cave, to maximize these results.
Shirley Wills, The Wood Agency