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Mammoth Cave researchers discover 8 miles of additional passages


The longest cave in the world is now even longer, according to the Cave Research Foundation. Mammoth Cave National Park, located in south-central Kentucky, announced on its Facebook page that it has added an additional eight miles of passages to the Mammoth Cave System, bringing the total number of mapped passages to 420 miles . Kentucky’s only national park, a treasure trove of nature and wildlife both above and below ground, has long housed researchers from the Cave Research Foundation to map the newly discovered passages, according to the website of the park. Caves can be mysterious, with new openings hidden in the dark under piles of stones or beyond narrow crevices begging to be discovered. Watch in the player above how a fog bank can even form in the cave system. Some openings can lead to very little, if anything at all. Some openings lead to passages, and some of them turn out to be very short, while others turn out to be much longer. Sometimes seemingly the tiniest openings can lead to gigantic passageways, while seemingly large openings can only lead to the corner of a dead end corner. Since caves are largely formed by the flow of water over long periods of time, the passages that make up the cave themselves can be just as unpredictable as the water that created them. Whenever these openings are discovered, the national park wonders where they lead, if not anywhere. This is when the foundation’s volunteers come to answer these questions. Foundation survey teams use compasses to determine direction, a tape measure and laser range finders to measure distance, and an instrument called an inclinometer to measure the slope of a passage. The process of mapping a passage in a cave can be a tedious job, but the tape measure and laser rangefinders can’t bend into corners. Thus, survey data should be collected bit by bit. The data is recorded point to point, and ultimately all connected to reveal the layout of the passage, explains the Mammoth Cave National Park website. The shapes of the passages also vary, so at almost every data collection station a cross section of the cave is drawn. This shows what the cave looks like if you stood in it, looking at the passage. In many cases, a running profile is also drawn on the sketch, which shows what the passage looks like from the side. the updated survey log. Even though the computers ultimately generate the final map, the hands-on work of these volunteers is the only way cave surveying can be done. What is the point of all this? Well, in addition to the basic human need to explore and know the unknown, the maps also help Mammoth Cave National Park in the management of the caves and the park. This helps them know everything from parts of the cave system that may be vulnerable to chemical spills on highways to what type of wildlife is in that particular area in order to plan surface projects accordingly. Sometimes, but not usually due to their wild and indomitable state as well as ease of management, these found passages can be considered in addition to existing cave tours or even become full-fledged tours. Until then, it is only the determined volunteers of the Cave Research Foundation who can access and report to the world how long the Mammoth Cave really is, and although the cave has been formed for a very long time, knowledge of it – this only seems to keep growing. You can visit much of Mammoth Cave’s mapped and fully developed passages by going to their website here.

The longest cave in the world is now even longer, according to the Cave Research Foundation.

Mammoth Cave National Park, located in south-central Kentucky, announced on its Facebook page that it has added eight more miles of passages to the Mammoth Cave system, bringing the total number of mapped passages to 420 miles.

Kentucky’s only national park, a treasure trove of nature and wildlife both above and below ground, has long hosted researchers from the Cave Research Foundation to map the newly discovered passages, according to the website of the park.

Caves can be mysterious, with new openings hidden in the dark under piles of stones or beyond narrow crevices begging to be discovered.

Watch in the player above how a fog bank can even form in the cave system.

Some openings can lead to very little, if anything at all. Some openings lead to passages, and some of them turn out to be very short, while others turn out to be much longer.

Sometimes seemingly the tiniest openings can lead to gigantic passageways, while seemingly large openings can only lead to the corner of a dead end corner.

Since caves are largely formed by the flow of water over long periods of time, the passages that make up the cave themselves can be just as unpredictable as the water that created them.

Whenever these openings are discovered, the national park wonders where they lead, if not anywhere. It is then that the volunteers of the foundation come to answer these questions.

Foundation survey crews use compasses to determine direction, a tape measure and laser range finders to measure distance, and an instrument called an inclinometer to measure the slope of a passage.

The process of mapping a passage in a cave can be a tedious job, but the tape measure and laser rangefinders can’t bend into corners. Thus, survey data should be collected bit by bit. The data is recorded point-to-point, and ultimately all connected to reveal the layout of the passage, the Mammoth Cave National Park website says.

The passage shapes also vary, so that at almost every data collection station a cross section of the cave is drawn. This shows what the cave looks like if you stood in it, looking at the passage. In many cases, a running profile is also drawn on the sketch, which shows what the passage looks like from the side.

The process is a team effort with usually one person setting the stations, another the reading instruments, and a third person responsible for maintaining the survey log. Even though the computers ultimately generate the final map, the hands-on work of these volunteers is the only way cave surveying can be done.

What is the point of all this? Well, in addition to the basic human need to explore and know the unknown, the maps also help Mammoth Cave National Park in the management of the caves and the park.

This helps them know everything from parts of the cave system that may be vulnerable to chemical spills on highways to what type of wildlife is in that particular area in order to plan surface projects accordingly.

Sometimes, but not usually due to their wild and indomitable state as well as ease of management, these found passages can be considered in addition to existing cave tours or even become full-fledged tours.

Until then, it is only the determined volunteers of the Cave Research Foundation who can access and report to the world how long the Mammoth Cave really is, and although the cave has been formed for a very long time, knowledge of it – this only seems to keep growing.

You can visit much of Mammoth Cave’s mapped and fully developed passages by going to their website here.

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