by Alex Gugel , all rights reserved

Carlsbad Caverns

Canyons & Caves Vol 43, No 1

brochure Carlsbad Caverns - Canyons & Caves Vol 43, No 1
National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Carlsbad Caverns National Park Canyons & Caves Newsletter of the Resources Stewardship & Science Division Vol. 43, No. 1 January, 2017 Canyons & Caves 43(1) 2017 1 Editor’s Letter We are excited to resurrect the Canyons and Caves newsletter with this issue. We feel it is absolutely critical that we provide the latest information to park staff, so each of you can answer the thoughtful questions that our visitors are asking. Because the newsletter will come out quarterly, we hope to keep you abreast of upcoming resource management events and research projects. We also hope to be able recognize our successes and let other parks and researchers know about the status of on-going projects and research. This electronic newsletter is the vehicle we hope to accomplish all this with. Canyons and Caves will be divided into the Physical, Biological, and Cultural sciences, the three programs of the Resource Management Division. We are lucky to have Cathryn Hoyt as our production editor, as she brings a fresh and professional look to Canyons and Caves. Calendar January • Jan 19: Ellen Trautner presentation on new discovery in Lechuguilla. Pecos Valley Grotto meeting, 7:00 pm, at National Cave and Karst Research Institute. • Jan 21-28: Dr. Hazel Barton is leading a Lechuguilla expedition • Jan 28-Feb 4: National Cave Rescue Commission regional training in Bend, TX February • Jan 29-Feb 4: Paul Burger surveying in Spider Cave • Feb 16: Pecos Valley Grotto Meeting, 7 pm, at NCKRI • Feb 17-20: Cave Research Foundation Restoration weekend in Carlsbad Cavern • Feb 24-Mar 4: Derek Bristol leading a Lechuguilla expedition March • Mar 13-17: David Levy sampling water in Lechuguilla Cave • Mar 16: Pecos Valley Grotto Meeting, 7 pm, at NCKRI • Mar 25-Apr 1: Bat Echolocation Symposium in Tucson, AZ April • Apr 12-13: Lint Camp with Pat Jablonsky • Apr 13-17: Cave climatologist Andreas Pflitsch will be in the park. • Apr 20: Pecos Valley Grotto Meeting; 7 pm, at NCKRI • Apr 22: NSS Southwest Region Spring Meeting at Parks Ranch Cave 2 Canyons & Caves Vol. 43 (1) 2017 Canyons & Caves Newsletter of the Resources Stewardship & Science Division Vol. 43, Issue 1 January 2017 EDITORIAL Rod Horrocks Editor Ellen Trautner Associate Editor Cathryn Hoyt Production Editor CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS Luis Florez Rod Horrocks Cathryn Hoyt Sam Denman Ellen Trautner PHOTOGRAPHERS & ARTWORK Gosia Allison-Kosior Dan Austin Luis Florez Tim Fogg Jennifer Foote Art Fortini Cathryn Hoyt James Hunter Jaco Webber Max Wisshak EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES Resources Stewardship & Sciences Division 3225 National Parks Highway Carlsbad, NM 88220 Image Front Cover: Hazel Barton, dressed in a wet suit with hoodie, swims across Lake Castrovalva in Lechuguilla Cave. Photo by Tim Fogg. Luis Florez, John Davis, and John Mitchell show off their day’s haul after pulling Johnson grass at Rattlesnake Springs. Photo by Jaco Webber. Contents Editor’s Letter 2 One Strange Rock, Indeed! 4 The Squeeze: Resource Notes & News 10 Physcial Sciences Biology Cultural Resources Photo Essay: Butterflies of Carlsbad Caverns National Park 22 Meet the Staff 24 Recent Publications 26 Canyons & Caves 43(1) 2017 3 “One Strange Rock,” Indeed! by Ellen Trautner 4 Canyons & Caves Vol. 43 (1) 2017 In late October 2016, I accompanied crew members from Nutopia, a London-based production company, into Lechuguilla Cave to film a sequence for an upcoming National Geographic series called “One Strange Rock.” This ten episode event will air in 2018 and will feature all the many strange and unique ways life has developed on this planet. Filming in Lechuguilla focused on microbial life that thrives in the extreme cave environment. Because travel time to and from the filming sites would have been very slow if we came from the surface each day, we camped in the cave for eight days and seven nights. There were six of us who spent the entire week underground. This included four crew members from Nutopia: Chris, the assistant producer and including Rod, and they gave me advice on packing and logistics. We entered the cave on October 21st. Between onsite director, Johnny the cameraman, Mark the film crew, sherpas, a microbiologist and myself, sound guy, and Tim the rope safety advisor. Dr. there were eleven people entering the cave. To Hazel Barton, a well-known microbiologist who avoid bottlenecks at the entrance rope and Boul- has been coming to Lechuguilla for almost twenty der Falls, we divided into three groups and spaced years, rounded out our camping group. Besides our entries about an hour apart. I was part of the the six of us who were in there continually, Nuto- last group, and we entered the cave a little after pia had hired six very experienced Lechuguilla one p.m. Down, down, down we went, deeper cavers to be their sherpas. Each day, a team of into the cave. There were many drops where we three would come into the cave to bring fresh used ropes, several traverses over exposed ledges, batteries and other equipment, and then carry and at the end, an uphill climb with two more out used batteries and that day’s rushes. These ropes to use as hand lines. Thankfully, the crawl- sherpas also brought in all the camera gear at the ing is minimal to get to camp, since we all were beginning of the week and hauled it out at the end, hauling our camp duffels, which weighed about which was no easy task as there were eleven large thirty pounds each. The sherpas with the camera bags of equipment. gear had even bigger packs. Filming took place primarily in the southwestern We took it slow, making several breaks, and branch of the cave. This area includes such high- finally rolled into camp about 7:15 p.m. The sher- lights as Chandelier Ballroom, Pearlsian Gulf, and pas turned around to head back to the surface, the Lebarge Borehole. We camped in the branch’s and those of us camping set up our tarps, sleep- designated camping site, Big Sky. This was my first ing bags, and started making dinner. We brought camping trip inside Lechuguilla, or any cave for several small backpacking stoves so we were able that matter. The filming permit required a park to boil water. We poured boiling water into our representative to be present during all filming, and freeze dried dinners and ate directly from the I was the only person available. Having just started packaging. This is also how we ate our oatmeal in Cave Resources in June, I happened to be in each morning. There is no gray water in Lechu- the right place at the right time. I talked to many guilla, so you cannot wash dishes, wash your people who had camped in Lechuguilla before, hands, or otherwise bathe or rinse. Water is for drinking and cooking only. Personal hygiene is limited to wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and teeth Ellen arrives at Big Sky Camp with her camp duffel. Photo by Gosia Allison-Kosior. brushing—but spitting into a baggie. For me, dealCanyons & Caves 43(1) 2017 5 Chris, Mark, and Johnny set up the “jib” in Pearlsian Gulf. Photo by James Hunter. ing with limited hygiene was the biggest challenge moving camera gear easy, as we could make mul- of camping in the cave. tiple trips quickly. Pearlsian Gulf is a lake sur- By 9:30 pm, we were all ready for bed. Of course rounded by flowstone, stalagmites, and of course the darkness is immediate, and almost tangible, cave pearls. It is a clean area, which means we when the last person turns off their headlamp. each had to wear a clean set of clothes and our The silence, which I would have enjoyed, is not aqua socks. We spread out tarps to put the cam- present when you have six people sleeping in the era gear on so that it would not scratch the flow- same room. Because the cave itself is so still and stone or get wet. Then the slow process of filming quiet, any little noise someone makes—a cough, a began. Although Pearlsian Gulf was perhaps the snore, adjusting their sleeping bag—sounds like a easiest of all the sites to film, due to relatively flat, shot in the dark. Ironically, I had to sleep with ear even floors and plenty of walking space, there is plugs in the cave! also a learning curve for cave photography. Setting Sunday morning we woke up to total darkness up shots, figuring out lighting, and keeping the and the sound of Hazel’s alarm going off. After lenses from fogging all presented themselves as breakfast, we headed over to Pearlsian Gulf, a challenges during this time. How to get amazing short walk away from our camp. It certainly made shots while avoiding delicate floors and the lake, 6 Canyons & Caves Vol. 43 (1) 2017 necessitated creative thinking. Fortunately, Chris, to contain our hair, skin cells, dirt, etc. Once we Johnny, Mark, and Tim all were extremely con- had all our equipment packed into clean dry bags, scientious about cave protection the entire week. we were ready to get in the water. It was COLD. They were willing to endure extra hardships if it Johnny recorded Hazel, Chris and I getting in and meant the cave would be better protected. Johnny, swimming out and back. If any sound was recorded who manned the camera, particularly had great at that time, it would have been completely full of our spatial awareness, which was important when he yelps and screams because of the cold. was getting very close to delicate speleothems. The second day of filming was special for all of Once we made it to the other side, we were in awe of what we saw. Caves always feel somewhat us. We were visiting Lake Castrovalva, an area otherworldly to me, but this was the first time I that had been discovered in the eighties but the felt I was on a completely different planet. The far shores hadn’t been visited in twenty years. beautiful clear water, the giant lily pads that we The original discoverers of the lake named it for a tiptoed on, the pristine nature of this place; it was “Doctor Who” episode, which in turn had gotten like nothing I had experienced before. Although the name from a lithograph by artist M.C. Escher. we usually played music while we filmed to fill the To approach the lake, we had to change into aqua monotonous silence, we had no need of music on socks and clean clothes, but the filming permit that day. Castrovalva made its own music. including the far side of the lake. The only way to The next three days were more challenging in get there was by swimming. Our trusty sherpas many ways. We filmed one day in Land of the had packed us skin suits, which were like wet suits Lost, and two in Chandelier Ballroom. There was without any insulation, and we had to wear the no flat flowstone for us to easily walk on and set up suits along with aqua socks and swim caps in order the camera. In Land of the Lost, any step off trail Chris, Johnny, and Hazel filming at the chandeliers. Photo by Gosia Allison-Kosior. Canyons & Caves 43(1) 2017 7 Johnny filming Lake Chandalar in Lebare Borehole. Photo by Gosia Allison-Kosior. meant risking injury to beautiful aragonite bushes. the end. Each day, at the end of filming, some of The trail was narrow and went up and down over the gear would get moved on to the next site. By breakdown. Once the camera was set up on the the end of the second day in Chandelier Ballroom, trail, the only way to get to the other side was by most of the bags had moved on to the Lebarge crawling underneath it while someone held on to Borehole. Thursday morning, we woke up early the tripod legs. In the Chandelier Ballroom, we and made our way to the Chandelier Ballroom to had a little more room to work with, but setting pick up the remaining gear bags and shuttled them up the camera so close to the chandeliers meant through Tinseltown Maze into the Lebarge Bore- someone always had to be holding the tripod, and hole. We did big “expedition” shots in the bore- someone else always had to be spotting the camera hole of Hazel leading her team through the cave. as Johnny moved in close to get macro shots of They also filmed a lot of “science” shots that day, the crystals. Once again, Johnny demonstrated his of Hazel collecting microbial samples and testing excellent spatial awareness. Once he got to this them. After three days of stressful filming in Land filming site, he familiarized himself with exactly of the Lost and Chandelier Ballroom, it felt nice to where he could and could not go, and it seemed be back in aqua socks on relatively flat flowstone, like he automatically gained muscle memory for far away from delicate crystals. those spots. That evening we wrapped filming a little earlier, Over the course of the week, our filming sites because the sherpas were waiting to take some moved farther away from camp and closer to the gear all the way to Boulder Falls. The next day, entrance. This was done intentionally, to aid the Friday, was going to be our exit day. We kept one sherpas in bringing the packs out of the cave at small camera for filming on the way out. When 8 Canyons & Caves Vol. 43 (1) 2017 Friday morning rolled around, we packed up hauling all eleven bags of gear out of the cave. We quickly. It was our eighth day in the cave and we set up a haul system to get them up Boulder Falls, all had “entrance fever.” We said goodbye to Big and then the sherpas started doing laps from the Sky Camp. We passed familiar sites: the turn-off top of the Falls to the airlock. Eventually, all gear to Lake Castrovalva, Land of the Lost, Chande- made it out, and everyone who remained shoul- lier Ballroom, and Lebarge Borehole. We slowly dered a pack or two (or in some cases, three) and made our way up the Little White Bastard, one at a we hiked back to the cars. time on rope. We stopped to film in Snow White’s The whole experience was productive, enjoy- Passage and encountered the sherpa team heading able, and successful. The film crew and the sherpa down to fetch the last six bags from Lebarge Bore- teams were all great people and made the expe- hole. Between the four sherpas that came in that rience a positive one. I even got to play at being day, they got all the bags to Boulder Falls in record part of the film crew by creating a “2nd unit” team time while we were still working our way through with Hazel to film behind the scenes footage for the Rift. Unfortunately we all arrived at the bottom “The Making Of” special that will be released in of Boulder Falls at the same time, which meant a conjunction with the series. Lechuguilla truly is long wait while each person climbed the rope. a strange and wonderful place and belongs in the The surface never smelled so good. After a good bigger story of “One Strange Rock.” I will never night’s sleep on a real bed, we went back into the forget this trip, my first week completely under- cave on Saturday to film sequences at Boulder Falls ground, and I look forward to seeing it brought to and the entrance airlock. The final challenge was life on screen. The team that pulled all the bags out of the cave on the last day. Front row L to R: Ellen Trautner, James Hunter, Stan Allison. Back row L to R: Chris Baron, Tim Fogg, Johnny Rogers, Gosia Allison-Kosior, Harlan Taney, Beth Cortright, Derek Bristol. Photo by Gosia Allison-Kosior. Canyons & Caves 43(1) 2017 9 The Squeeze Resource Notes & News 10 Canyons & Caves Vol. 43 (1) 2017 Lechuguilla Cave Expedition Summaries, 2014-2016 Thirty years after a group of explorers squirmed their way through a hole and into Lechuguilla Cave, the cave continues to surprise us. Explorers continue to find new passages and researchers learn more about the diversity of life within this pristine cave system. Kent Taylor led day trips to the Ghost Town area, November 8-14, 2014 Kent led some day trips to the Lake of the Blue Midgets in the Ghost Town area of Lechuguilla Cave. The survey crew attempted to climb to a visible passage beyond the Lake of the Blue Midgets but had to abort their trip to prevent loose material from being knocked into the lake. Returning later, they determined the lead was not worth pursuing. They surveyed a few shots in a couple of boneyard areas and then failed to climb into another lead they had noticed in the area. Hazel Barton Expedition to the Lebarge Borehole area, November 9-15, 2014 Hazel led a 6-person expedition to the Lebarge Borehole and Voids area in the Southwest Branch of Lechuguilla Cave. While resurveying a deadend passage at the top of a fissure lead above the Lebarge Borehole, they discovered a previously unnoticed lead that led to a significant discovery that was named Neuland, which mean “new land” or “virgin territory” in German. They discovered several large rooms that they named the Icefields Parkway, Moraine, Chandelier Wallroom, and the Columbia Icefield, and a dome that they named the Diplomacy Dome. They were able to survey 5,402 feet of total survey, with 2,885 feet of new survey and the rest resurvey of old problem surveys. Cave to work on completing the South Winds and Southern Climbs quadrangles. They surveyed 800 feet in a narrow vertical fissure and boneyard maze located below the Tradewinds area that they named the Chimera Crevice. They also went back to the Neuland area to finish pushing leads in their spectacular 2014 discovery. This included a 200 foot aid climb that dead ended and which they named the Polar Circus as well as 900 feet of passage and borehole that they named the Quiet Crisis, which they found off the top of the Diplomacy Dome. They found more gypsum chandeliers in the area. While checking 70 leads during the expedition, they surveyed a total of 7,592 feet of passage, including 2,267 feet of resurvey of old problem surveys. Derek Bristol Expedition to the Far West, September 17-24, 2016 Derek led a 6-person expedition to the Far West part of the western branch of Lechuguilla Cave. Pushing a highly decorated 6 to 8-foot-wide lead in the Boomtown area, they encountered a deep lake that continues off the south edge of the map, which they had to abandon until mitigating measures can be identified to cross the lake on a future expedition. An aid climb in the Oz area led to 360 feet of new survey. A second aid climb in Oz led to 1,045 feet of survey, with two domes and one pit Max Wisshak Expedition to the Deep Seas Camp, November 14-21, 2015 lead left for a future expedition. One of the domes Max led a 9-person expedition to the Deep and was named the Nostril, which would place the Seas Camp in the Western Branch of Lechuguilla Blackness ahead in the Neuland area in the Southwest Branch of Lechuguilla Cave. Photo by Max Wisshak. was in a large room and measured 200-foot high top approximately 80 feet below the surface and about the same elevation as the airlock. In addition, the expedition surveyed 2,297 feet of mop-up Canyons & Caves 43(1) 2017 11 The Squeeze Physical Sciences Red Tides, a new room discovered on the southern edge of the Western Borehole in Lechuguilla Cave. Photo by Dan Austin. survey in the Keel Hall, Sanctuary, and the 1988 for the trip centered around the Red Lakes area, Room areas. They were able to eliminate 50 leads between Oasis and Huapache Highway, which is while adding an additional 13 leads. The results of located at the far western end of the Western Bore- the expedition included 4,402 feet of total sur- hole in the Keel Hall quad (Quad I35). The main vey; 3,730.5 feet of new survey and 671.6 feet of objective was to push a tight slot that appeared to excluded survey. The expedition added 0.71 miles open up beyond a constriction. That lead opened to the length of Lechuguilla Cave. into a highly decorated chamber 100’ x 80’ in Dan Austin Expedition to Red Lakes Area, November 18, 2016 diameter with 30’ high columns and dry pool After obtaining a permit to investigate a tight basins that they named Red Tides. They left two climbing leads for a future return trip while sur- lead on the south edge of the Western Borehole in veying 288 feet in the new room. A nearby lead led the Red Lakes area, Dan Austin led a group of five to a new pool they named Goldmember Pool and cavers on a one-day push trip. All of the objectives produced 116 feet of survey. They left a lead con- 12 Canyons & Caves Vol. 43 (1) 2017 tinuing on the other side of the pool for a future and in the Kachina Lakes area, which is close to expedition. Most of the 404’ of survey accumu- but above the Grand Guadalupe Junction level. lated during the 18-hour trip was in virgin passage. This proved fruitful as climbs were started that will John Lyles Expedition to the Far East, November 14-20, 2016 John led an expedition with six other cavers, need follow up during future expeditions. Resurvey on the route to the Generation X Room found an additional narrow inclined passage that contin- including two German cavers, into the Far East of ues. One team went to the far south end to Coch- Lechuguilla Cave. They accomplished some resur- ise Stronghold, and surveyed two small passages, vey work that was needed by the cartographer of both on the southwest edge of the cave. Finally, a the area, Pat Kambesis. The expedition brought new effort was started in the large area under the together the three most active surveyors of the Ruby Chamber, along the main trail in the Wild past decade in the Far East branch, John Lyles, Black Yonder area. The teams added 2,634.2 feet Ron Miller, and Rich Sundquist. They worked in of new passage to the length of the cave, raising the very complex Outback area, mopping up and the total length of the Lechuguilla survey to 141.07 connecting in additional loops to nearby surveys. miles, or about 227 km. In addition, the German They also worked in and around Coral Seas area cavers brought multi-flash digital SLR setup and Goldmember Pool, a new pool discovered on the southern edge of the Western Borehole in Lechuguilla Cave. Photo by Jennifer Foote. Canyons & Caves 43(1) 2017 13 The Squeeze Physical Sciences photo-documented parts of the Outback that have never been captured via high-quality photography before. Hazel Barton & Art Fortini Expedition to the West, December 11-17, 2016 Due to scheduling issues, Art’s team joined Hazel’s expedition to the west. Hazel went to an area along the Western Borehole that is located underneath the Chandelier Graveyard; where they mopped up numerous leads and resurveyed numerous problem surveys. Hazel’s team surveyed 3,482 feet of new passage, while resurveying 6,196 feet of problem surveys. After Art’s group The corrosion residue-covered horizontal pancake passages discovered at the top of the Neverland climb on 12/13/16 by Art Fortini’s climbing expedition. They named the area Never-Never Land. Photo by Art Fortini. mopped up some passage in the Fubar area on the first day of the expedition, his team spent the next three days continuing the overhanging climbing lead on the Treehouse/Neverland climb. Although the top started looking more and more like an alcove the higher they climbed, when they finally did reach the lip, they found wide, going, pancake type of passages that averages three-feet high with pillars everywhere and few visible walls. The area is covered in corrosion residue and has significant airflow. They surveyed 1,610 feet before they ran out of time in this significant new discovery. They left over 60 leads in this new area for a return expedition. Combined, Hazel’s and Art’s expeditions surveyed 1.03 miles of new cave, bringing the Lechuguilla Cave survey to 142.10 miles or 228.67 km. —ROD HORROCKS Carlsbad Cavern Expedition Summaries, 2014-2016 Visited for over 100 years, Carlsbad Caverns still has leads that are being explored and surveyed. Derek Bristol led day trips to the Chocolate High & Guadalupe Sections, 12/30/15 – 1/2/16 Derek led a 6-person, 4-day expedition to the Guadalupe Room and Chocolate High Sections of Carlsbad Cavern. They were able to photo-document the Southern Splendor area, which had been the expedition, they were able to survey 3,968 feet of total survey, which includes 219 feet of redundant survey. The expedition added 0.71 miles to the length of Carlsbad Cavern, which brought the cave survey up to 32.35 miles. lost for 23 years. They surveyed 2,500 feet of new Ed Klausner Led Day Trips to the Lower Cave area, September 29-October 4, 2016 cave in a series of deep pits on the east edge of the Ed led a series of CRF organized day trips to section and mopped up some leads near the Sand mop up as many high leads as he could in the Room. In the Chocolate High area they surveyed Lower Cave area of Carlsbad Cavern. Bringing a some leads off the edge of the map and mopped 22-foot folding ladder into the cave, he was able to up several other leads for 1,468 feet of survey. For check 37 leads. They surveyed some a short dis- 14 Canyons & Caves Vol. 43 (1) 2017 tance, while others could only be sketched because they were either too delicate, merely alcoves, Cave Survey Lengths or blocked by pools. A few couldn’t be climbed without lead climbing with full vertical gear. Alto- Lechuguilla Cave 142.10 miles (228.67 km) gether, his teams were able to survey 865 feet of Carlsbad Cavern 32.47 miles (52.25 km) survey in 60 shots. This included 682 feet of new passage and 183 feet of redundant survey. The only leads left in Lower Cave are numerous difficult Spider Cave 5.49 miles (8.83 km) Slaughter Canyon Cave 3.78 miles (6.08 km) climbing leads. The expedition added 0.13 miles to the length of the Carlsbad Cavern survey, which brought the cave survey up to 32.47 miles. —ROD HORROCKS The Mystery of the Colonel Boles Formation Interpretive ranger Mannie Bemis contacted the Cave Resources Office in June 2016 about the many stories surrounding the Colonel Boles Formation in Lower Cave. These stories, mostly attributed to ranger lore, concern the natural breaks in several columns. Some stories say the columns were broken on purpose, in order that rangers could remove the center section to illustrate the fact that columns do not, in fact, hold up the cave. Other stories include an epilogue, stating that after those crazy early days of the park, the column has since been repaired. Some say by glue, some claim other methods. While we know that Colonel Boles did indeed remove the center section of one of the columns to entertain his guests, there is no source stating that it was broken intentionally. Also, in talking to former Cave Specialist Dale Pate, he stated that the Cave Specialist Rod Horrocks removes the center piece of the Colonel Boles formation. NPS Photo. formation had not been repaired during his tenure at the park (1991-2011) and he had no knowledge of it ever being repaired. To set some of these rumors to rest, Rod, Mannie, and Ellen headed down to Lower Cave on June 21st, 2016. They first determined that the columns were broken by settling as the underlying cave silt contracted. After putting down a nylon cloth so that they would not track mud onto the flowstone, they Canyons & Caves 43(1) 2017 15 The Squeeze Physical Sciences were able to demonstrate that it had not been repaired, as Cave Specialist Rod Horrocks was easily able to remove the center piece. They also were able to document that both ends were natural breaks. Neither end was a manmade cut. Unfortunately, this piece has obviously been removed Iron Pool in Left Hand Tunnel The Iron Pool in the Left Hand Tunnel in Carlsbad Cavern is an interesting mystery. The current thought is that the greenish color many times in the past. The lower break has been in the Iron Pool is due to the Tyndall Effect, which worn down to the point that it is no longer a clean refers to light being scattered by a very fine colloid break. Luckily it still balances quite well. that is in suspension in water. The green color is Now that it has been established and documented that both breaks are natural, and have not been repaired, there is no need to repeat this experiment. —ELLEN TRAUTNER consistent with a colloidal suspension of iron. Geologist Carol Hill helped Douglass E. Caldwell collect an aquatic bacterium name Leptothrix sp. from the Iron Pool in 1969. This organism has the ability to oxidize iron. Douglass published a paper in Geomicrobiology on this organism in 1980, where he stated that it is filamentous and is incased in an iron-containing hexagonal sheath, which covers the surface of the cells. The width of the hexagonal subunits are only 0.1 angstroms, with no iron observed within the subunits. It’s also interesting that nearby pools are not the same green color, with only one moonmilk pool occasionally showing signs of going yellow. Geologist Michael Queen stated, “Why the two nearby pools are so different is particularly mysterious, perhaps we need to do some more Interpretive Ranger Dustin Baker shines a light on the Iron Pool during a tour of Left Hand Tunnel. Photo by Cathryn Hoyt. 16 Canyons & Caves Vol. 43 (1) 2017 testing.” —ROD HORROCKS The complexity of the the Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns will help test evolving ideas about what constitutes a cave chamber or passage. Results from the LIDAR survey of this, and other cave chambers around the world, will be presented in July, 2017, at the International Congress of Speleology in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Cathryn Hoyt. LIDAR Survey of the Big Room in Carlsbad Cavern Tim and Jane Allen, cavers from the United Kingdom, recently completed a LIDAR survey of the Big Room in Carlsbad Cavern. They were joined by fellow UK cavers Andy Eavis and Roo Walters in a project to make a detailed 3D map of the Big Room. The purpose of the survey was to calculate the volume of the Big Room, in order to determine where the Big Room ranks in the largest cave chambers in the world. This survey is part of a 3-year project to visit all the world’s largest chambers so that the first detailed comparison can be made of them, not only to assess which is the largest chamber, but also to find out more about their structure and how they were formed. “Previous estimates of size are largely informed guesswork,” explained Roo Walters, who is responsible for collating the data into 3D models from which measurement can be made. “This equipment allows us to measure down to each square centimeter of the cave walls separately, which means a highly detailed and accurate model can be built.” The actual calculation for the size of the Big Room is 0.93 million cubic meters, which is 10% larger than the cavern previously thought to be the largest in the Americas: The Belize Room, in Belize. However, there is another contender, La Munenca, a large chamber in Mexico, that hasn’t been revisited since it was discovered in 1989. The team will visit La Munenca in 2017. “What we discovered during this project,” said team leader Tim Allen, “is that until we measure it, we just don’t know.” —ROD HORROCKS Canyons & Caves 43(1) 2017 17 The Squeeze Biological Sciences Wildlife Handling SOP On October 12, 2016, Superintendent Doug Neighbor reviewed and signed the Wildlife Handling SOP. The purpose of the SOP is to provide park employees with guidelines on how to deal with wildlife that are suspected of carrying rabies infection. A copy of SOP 16-02, “handling of Wildlife with Suspected Rabies Infection,” can be found on the Shared Drive (S:) at: SOP’s-Archived/2016/16-02. We also hope to form a CAVE wildlife responder team comprised of volunteers from each park division. Training will be provided. More on this in Native Plant Revegetation Revegetation Plots In 2012 and 2013, Native Plant Revegetation plots were constructed at

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