|What is Flowstone?
The following comes from our
good friends at Wikipedia.
Flowstones are composed of sheet like
deposits of calcite formed where water
flows down the walls or along the floors of
a cave. They are typically found in
"solution", or limestone caves, where they
are the most common speleothem.
However, they may form in any type of
cave where water enters that has picked up
dissolved minerals. Flowing films of water
moving along floors or down
positive-sloping walls build up layers of
calcium carbonate (calcite), aragonite,
gypsum, or other cave minerals. These
minerals are dissolved in the water and are
deposited when the water loses its
dissolved carbon dioxide, meaning it can
no longer hold the minerals in solution.
The flowstone forms when thin layers of
these deposits build on each other,
sometimes becoming rounder as the
deposit gets thicker. Cave Bacon in the
Caverns of Sonora near Sonora, Texas. The
deposits may grade into thin sheets called
"draperies" where they go over
overhanging portions of the wall. Some
draperies are translucent, and some have
brown and beige layers that look much
like bacon (often termed "cave bacon").
Though flowstones are among the largest
of speleothem, they can still be damaged
by a single touch. The oil from human
fingers causes the water to avoid the area,
which then dries out.
The following article gives more insight into
the human impact on caves and why you
should respect and honor the caves even if
you may never step foot in one and
especially if you do venture underground.
|The Real Underground: Hidden Habitats
By Brad McClellan
The retreat to caves by humans seems to be a timeless, ageless pursuit. Whether a Stone Age refuge or a guided
tour of a lighted commercial show cave, visits to a cave seem to strike a chord within our psyche. Literature,
history and folklore are speckled with mystic imagery and speculations of caves religious or supernatural
importance. In Thailand and other Eastern regions many sacred temples are located in caves. For an avid cave
explorer the return from a subterranean visit can have a cleansing, rebirth-like effect. But why are caves important
to us today? Just as it is important to maintain (or repair) the health of our rivers, trees and skies, it is equally
important to take care of the ground beneath us. The following are just a few reasons why cave conservation and
preservation should not be just an underground topic.
Each cave is a unique microcosm and many caves have species of animals that are unique to only that cave.
Bat colonies depend on a caves sensitive environment for hibernation and incubation of their young. (Unless you
like biting flies and mosquitoes, bats are our friends.)
Our planet’s fresh water supply flows through caves. Trash and toxic materials thrown into sink hole or cave will
poison cave inhabitants, water wells and aquifers.
Many caves contain microbial environments deep within that are ideal for research into life saving medicines.
NASA even ventures below for their research.
Once disturbed, archaeological evidence and historical records concerning weather patterns cannot be retrieved.
The resources within caves are NON-RENEWABLE. Damage to cave walls, formations, water purity, biotic
activity and animal habitats cannot be undone.
Law protects caves and their contents. Unfortunately, the enforcement of the penalties for defacing, poisoning, or
destroying sensitive cave environment has been difficult due to lack of education and awareness.
Weakened environmental laws, compounded by unchecked abuse of PUBLIC LANDS by PRIVATE INTERESTS,
place profits for developers ahead of the necessary concerns for this fragile final frontier.
The following web sites can provide more information on cave conservation:
The National Speleological Society
The Biology of Caves, Karst & Groundwater
American Cave Conservation Association