The Amy H Remley Foundation  
   
     
 

Caves

Cave 2The Amy H Remley Foundation is privileged to sponsor a project to install vandal proof educational signs at a local cave site, with financial assistance of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The objective of the project is to educate the public regarding ground water quality in karst terrain. In Florida, karst is formed by water dissolving limestone. Karst terrain has sinkholes, terrestrial caves, springs (aquatic caves) and underground drainage passageways or conduits. Each of which can give access for water to reach the aquifer, the source of the water we drink and use every day.

Pollution from sources such as lawn fertilizer, dumping trash into sinkholes and caves, storm water drainage, and similar activities makes its way into the aquifer reducing the quality of our drinking water. Groundwater flows down hill until released through our springs to flow as surface water. Rivers originating from these springs carry the pollution to our estuaries to impact the quality of sea grass meadows, as well as protected species such as the manatee and, of course, the fish stocks and the entire marine food web nurtured there.

The sign erected during the project will explain the hydrology in karst terrain.

As a secondary feature the signs will educate the public in regard to geological formations, living inhabitants of caves, and the functions of caves as pathways to the aquifer.

A third aspect of the signage will give guidance to the basics of safe caving and cautions to be heeded.

Dames Cave Sign
source: © 2009, Norman Hopkins

The above image is derived from the Adobe Illustrator file sent to the Graphics company for finishing. Click here to see the (DRAFT) Final Report.

Student with Cave Sign
Withlacoochee Technical Institute students and teacher enjoying results of their work.

 

A local resident who had been a regular visitor to the caves since the early 1980s remarked at the increase of vandalism in the recent past, and that the passages interconnecting the various caves had become obstructed over the years by accumulations of sediment. The amount of sediment in the Dames cave was estimated by him to have raised the floor since that time by some fifteen feet.

Robert Brinkmann and Philip Reeder in their paper, "The Influence of Sea-level Change and Geologic Structure on Cave Development in West-Central Florida", published in Physical Geography, 1994, 15, 1, pp. 52 - 61, discuss the formation of the caves. The Abstract of the paper reads as follows:

"Abstract: The formation of caves in a portion of Citrus County, Florida is controlled structurally by northwest-southeast-trending joints that formed in the Suwannee Limestone during the uplift of Ocala Arch in the Miocene Epoch. The caves developed in a zone where saline water from the Gulf of Mexico and fresh water from the Ocala Uplift mixed. Further uplift elevated the caves above the mixing zone. Following subsequent lowering of regional baselevel, erosion caused sections of cave passages to collapse and/or be filled with sediment. The caves are fossil segments of a formerly larger, interconnected cave system. [Key words: caves, karst, speleogenesis, mixing zone, Florida.]".

The Summary and Conclusions of the paper refers to the contemporary situation:

"Base level was lowered, and the cave was truncated into six fossil remnants by surface erosion, sinkhole collapse, and in-filling with sediment. During this process the caves were abandoned as active phreatic conduits and dissolution has since been by meteoric water supplied by joints. Periodic dissolution along these joints in the vadose zone caused eventual collapse along certain joints that intersected the now truncated conduit system. These collapse features are the sinkholes and contemporary cave entrances within the study area."

To read the complete text by permission of the copyright holder, click here.

Cave 1 The following notes are taken from a publication of the National Speleological Society:

Caves are the world's most remote and fragile wilderness. Caves offer unparalleled beauty and experience. Yet, threatened by human activities above and below ground, by carelessness and ignorance or vandalism, the homes of rare plants and animals are being destroyed hazarding rare species only found in caves.

Such karst landscapes, occupying a fifth of the nation's land area, are among the world's most diverse, fascinating and resource-rich features and play host to the most productive ground water supplies on earth.

Our principal fresh water resource, is threatened by human and animal waste, pesticides, fertilizers, and products of petroleum combustion and other pollutants, leaching through soils, combining into unimaginable concoctions which flow underground for miles contaminating springs and aquifers, and our drinking water supplies derived from them.

Only the conscientious participation of citizens and land use decision makers can act to prevent a careless touch or malicious gesture which can lead to destruction of something which has taken centuries to form. Once damaged or destroyed, cave formations can never be replaced. Congress passed in 1988, the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act to "secure, protect and preserve significant caves on Federal lands for perpetual use, enjoyment and benefit of all people".

The values of caves involves the preservation of evidence of our natural history, climatic events, archaeological and cultural sites, and even the earliest forms of life on earth among a cave's fragile food web and ecosystem, maintained at a near constant temperature.

Excellent sources of further information may be found on the following web links:

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