Skip to comments.Just-discovered cave could yield new scientific insight
Posted on 09/24/2006 2:37:01 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
A just-unearthed cave formed more than 1 million years ago could yield new insight into the geological history of the American West, according to scientists, who called the discovery a major find.
Four amateur cave explorers uncovered the vast caverns, stretching more than 1,000 feet into a remote mountainside, in August.
Visitors to the cave, dubbed Ursa Minor, described seeing millions of crystals that shimmered like diamonds lodged in its walls. Translucent mineral curtains hung from the ceiling, and a lake possibly 20 feet deep filled one of the cave's five known rooms.
Passages leading into darkness suggested there was still much more to see.
Geologists and cave explorers said although caves are discovered often, it is rare to find one so grand.
"There are things in this cave that could really open windows into our knowledge of geologic history and the formation of caves throughout the West," said Joel Despain, the park's cave manager. "We're just beginning to understand the scientific ramifications of this."
Park officials will not pinpoint the cave's location, saying only that it is in the Kaweah River watershed and will probably never be open to the public.
Explorer Scott McBride with the nonprofit Cave Research Foundation discovered the entrance to Ursa Minor, no bigger than a softball, on Aug. 19.
That guy needs to eat more.
Underground lake ping
ping...bang bang chip away
Funny how the "Park Officials" have no problem collect a pay check from the public pay roll.
If the cave is on public land the owners should get a chance to see their cave.
Strange that they would use a Viking ship as the logo for an underground lake.
Kaweah River - From Wikipedia
Kaweah River is a river in Tulare County, California, located in the foothills of the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. The river's headwaters are in the Sequoia National Park. The river begins as the Middle Fork, it is then joined by Cliff Creek, the Marble Fork, the East Fork, the North Fork and the South Fork. The river passes through the town of Three Rivers shortly after the North Fork joins the Middle Fork, and then it drains into Lake Kaweah.
Scott McBride, in the red coveralls, and Mike White explore Ursa Minor, the cave McBride found in Sequoia National Park.
Scott McBride, a cave explorer from San Andreas, stands on a flowstone as he examines stalagmites, stalactites and other rock formations found inside Ursa Minor, the cave he discovered at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.
More details in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Magical underground world Just-discovered cave in Sequoia National Park said to house astounding rock formations, clues to region's geologic history
"...Within a couple of hours, they'd opened up a hole big enough for McBride to squeeze through."
"He scooted 25 feet or so down a slight incline, his headlamp lighting the way. He landed in a room so big he couldn't see the other side."
"...They made it to the room McBride had already seen, turned a corner and discovered the passage descended 90 feet straight down. Excited, they rappelled into the void..."
Thanks, Quite the place underground
The Cave Research Foundation is a bit elitist.
They do good work but think that only they can do good work and they work well with the Park Service in excluding others from contributing to exploration and study of public caves.
Note that no specific reason for the cave's importance is given to we the American public. It is they who will decide what is best for the cave and themselves.
Dang. My sentiments exactly, as I just posted before I read yours.
watchout al gore will be claiming he was there 1st.
"The Cave Research Foundation is a bit elitist."
That's probably true, but if you are a serious caver, the CRF is open to join. You'd have to prove yourself and be trusted over a period of time, but it's possible to gain access to these special caves.
Dude, don't be naive. They are technically "public" lands, but just barely.
Man, I can hardly wait to get in there and bust off some pieces of those pointy things to sell!
Somewhere out there is a massive gold treasure. Keep digging.
A caver falling down a tunnel.
Seriously, it's cool to know there are still undiscovered places left on this planet.
You can sell them on eBay too!!
Back when I could bend around the rocks I did some caving down there. I remember when a new entrance was found to a known cave system. It had a beautiful glistening white flowstone "glacier" just inside the entrance. When walking across it to get to the other side we all took out boots off to keep it white. Alas, with so many wanting to get to the other side, in time it became just as muddy as the rest of the cave.
They say that man always kills the things he loves. This is especially true with wilderness beauty. We always want to see and experience that beauty but when too many have seen and experienced, it is no longer beautiful.
Which will not be under the curse of sin.
To see and hear the stars sing out the glory of God will be a marvelous site to see and hear.
Like this cave not all people will be able to enjoy His Majesty
"What, never?" Couldn't they--I don't know--WIDEN the opening?
I'm not naive.
But the more power we allow them to take unchecked, the more they will try to take. If we fight back and get as loud as the Left has been in attacking free enterprise (note how far from "free enterprise" they have pushed us), perhaps we can push back against the usurping of our land.
The owners of the cave would desire to wear booties to keep their cave clean.
If some folks had their way only the elites would be able to enjoy caves like Carlsbad Caverns.
Freedom to visit and freedom to destroy have to be kept in balance.
Get carried away with your zeros did we, Dallas59? :)
thanks for the pics! Very cool.
You are exactly right! Are you involved in the property rights movement? Your tagline is great too!
"Some of the Park people and some of the Cave Research people seem to like caves and wilderness more than they like mankind. How stupid."
Stupid? Perhaps... and perhaps not. Time will tell. I know many people I would not consider capable of discerning beauty, whose only measure of worth is whether or not money can be made from it. I enjoy the things I can get with money just as much as anyone but I know of things and places that are priceless. Just like the people of CRF, I will never tell anyone of them.
Sights such as this cave contains are available for anyone to find and enjoy. Unfortunately, few will ever do so. Instead, they will cite their busy schedule, the family that must be provided for, the bills that must be paid. Unmentioned is the tv-remote that seems to be permanently grafted to their hand, the recliner that fits only their posterior or the six-pack they're addicted too.
I used to be a caver and I know what it cost me. I climbed the hills and rocks as a surveyor all week and then did more of it on the weekends. I drove for hours to spend two more wrapped in a sleeping bag before hiking six miles to the site of a cave system we were mapping. Once there, I ate some dried fruit and dropped into a dark, wet hole in the rocks in hope of finding something like this article describes. I was never so lucky. Instead, I found more dark, wet passages, an occasional pool of crystal clear water or, on rare occasions, a stalagmite.
There is a book, an old book whose author I can't remember, entitled "The Caves Beyond." I recommend it.
"If some folks had their way only the elites would be able to enjoy caves like Carlsbad Caverns."
Per post #37, perhaps I might be called an "elite." After all, I got off my butt and did things that others would expect to have done for them. If that makes me "elite" I plead 'guilt as charged.'
"Like this cave not all people will be able to enjoy His Majesty"
Strangely enough, many people consider things like this cave to be earthly signs of "His Majesty." I confess, I am among that group.
Unfortunately, even spelunking has its yay-hoos who proceed with callous disregard for the beauty around them and the sheer time it took to form.
I can't fault the CRF folks for wanting to safeguard what they have found, even if it is on public land.
A lot of that in commercial caves comes from the artificial lighting. Chlorophyl bearing organisms do not ordinarily do well in the dark. Some commercial caves have taken to rotating the lighting times to coincide with the tour groups' progress to slow that down.
If she be not so to me, what care I how fair she be, eh?
I am not calling for handicapped ramps into every cave. Those who want to visit should be able to gain entry in a controlled manner. It should not be closed to the public and open only to a chosen few.
In that same drainage, the Kaweah, there are a number of caves which have had some truly spectacular formations. One of them, Crystal Cave, is open to the public on a pay-as-you enter system run by the Park Service and has been reasonably well preserved. The others are well off the road and are open to qualified people.
By "qualified" I mean those with the technical expertise and experience to get in the cave and then get out safely. In my younger days I was instrumental in building concrete and steel gates in the entrances of a couple of them. The purpose wasn't necessarily to keep the ordinary citizen from seeing them but to keep that ordinary citizen from killing himself.
A case in point: Church Cave, on the Kings River, has several entrances and is a bit hard to get too so it's ungated. One entrance, the "Cliff Entrance," gets the caver into the guts of the cave quickly via a 140 foot drop. Back in the late 60s or early 70s a group was planning a photographic expedition in the cave and chose to lower the heavy equipment down that drop. To make a long story short, the man at the top lost his footing and fell to the rocks below. Two years later, when leading a group of rangers and sheriffs deputies into the cave to show them the problems involved in cave rescue, the area where his body fell was alive with mold.
Back on the Kaweah river, one of the prettier caves is known as "Lost Soldier Cave." We gated it but the Park Service still permitted tours to "qualified" groups. One such group, Boy Scouts, I believe, shattered formations that had taken eons to form. With that experience, topped by the muddied white flowstone I mentioned in my earlier post, why should I be the source of information which might - no, which WILL cause the destruction of such beauty?
Call me an elitist if you wish. I've been called much worse in the course of my seventy-two years. I still will not reveal the locations of some of the things I've seen.
You definitely sound like an old time caver, probably doing some arm chair caving right now. Glad to hear that you are still out there. And I agree with your postings too.
They better watch out for slestacks!!