Field Research at Ohio Caverns

Today I visited Ohio Caverns, partially because I love visiting caves and partially as field research to gather information for part of Book 3 (hint, hint!). Ohio Caverns are limestone caves known for both the variety of stone formations present and the particularly brilliant colors of the mineral deposits. The formations within the cave are primarily composed of calcite, but there are iron oxide and manganese dioxide-based features as well. We went on both the Historic tour and the Natural Wonders tour. Each tour highlighted different features of the cave.

The Historic tour went through the first part of the cave to be discovered and opened for exploration in 1897. Unfortunately, many of the crystal formations were taken as souvenirs by the early visitors, but the tour was still enlightening. The lighting system used in this section of the cave is a replica of those used there in the 1920s. It was very dim, lacking the staged spotlights used in many other caves. Admittedly, it wasn’t so great for photography so I don’t have any good pictures from that part of the cave. But, I thought that it presented a great impression of how it must feel to actually explore a new cave. Our guide, Allison, had a great sense of humor which made the tour even more interesting! If you ever visit Ohio Caverns, try to get her as your guide and be sure to laugh at her jokes! 😉

The Crystal King

The second tour we took was the Natural Wonders tour. There was ample lighting present which served to highlight the variety of colors within the formations. The calcite stalactites and stalagmites were the brightest white that I’ve seen in any of the caves I’ve visited so far. One, named the Crystal King (see rig, was particularly impressive. The Crystal King is bright white and is said to be one of the largest and most perfectly formed stalactites to be discovered. Ohio Caverns are also the only ones in North America to contain “dual formations”. Dual formations occur when one mineral formation grows on another formation that has a different chemical composition. Those in Ohio Caverns are iron oxide formations that calcite has grown on.

Ultimately, the visit was enjoyable and gave me plenty of good material to draw from! See more pictures after the jump…

Calcite formation on ceiling

Dual formation columns of iron oxide (top, red-brown color) and calcite (bottom, white)

Water-filled passage

Calcite formations

Calcite formations

Calcite stalagtites on ceiling

Calcite stalagmite and example of colored deposits on ceiling

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