Calcite cracks and sinkholes

An outing to Seneca Caverns in Bellevue, Ohio, is a visit to the only fractured cave in the nation. The original entrance to this cave system started in the late 1800’s as a small sinkhole. Today, once inside the cave, its disjointed, fractured origins are quite easily identified in the cave’s upper system sedimentary rock. In fact, Seneca Caverns offers up to eight underground levels that cavers can tour. Visitors get to try their caving skills exploring seemingly vertical descents from one level to the next with a water table at the bottom, known as Ole Mist’ry River.

Although Seneca Caverns is less ornate in its stalactites and stalagmites than the Ohio Caverns in West Liberty, Ohio, visitors get to view various stalactite seed formations estimated to be eighty-eight years old. These formations are found distributed over the ceiling of the fourth level of the cave, called Cathedral Hall. One type well-worth seeing is the very early growth stage of a young stalactite curtain formation.

The third question in our series of writing prompts available to students for our creation science writing contest considers the growth and formation of stalactites and stalagmites, including consideration of factors influential on their rates of growth. For instance, the 1932 article “An Unusual Occurrence of Stalactites and Stalagmites” by Karl Ver Steeg serves as a credible reference offering such valued information. In fact, the following bottom left image shows the face page to that article, and next to it the bottom right image is a companion picture that shows exposed stalactites made of calcium hydroxide — or Ca(OH)2 — identified under a railroad bridge over Bever Street in Wooster, Ohio. For the students choosing this question, a summary that highlights any differences between stalactites exposed to the elements (like the kind mentioned in Ver Steeg’s 1932 article) and stalactites formed underground (like those formed within the caves of the Ohio Caverns) is also encouraged, given that a comparison of such contrasted settings may show intriguing results with respect to growth rates. (Hint: Ver Steeg’s article will help with such a comparison.)

question-3-part-3Exposed stalactites under a railroad bridge

Could you consider yourself in a role that helps improve our understanding of the geology of the planet?

Starting out now on your very own discovery of the intricacies of God’s creation today through scientific study might very well help in discerning what path you should take in the future. For example, for a possible career path, such study could help you better understand the activities of geologists. And one of your first activities ought to be growing your very own stalactites. In fact, in the book 77 Fairly Safe Science Activities for Illustrating Bible Lessons by Professor Donald B. DeYoung (2013), lesson #74 called “Cave Icicles” allows readers to do this very thing.

Just maybe the writing prompt that deals with geology (as well as the fossil record) was developed specifically for you!

We invite you to browse the aforementioned question here, as follows: “essay contests.”

References

DeYoung, D.B. (2013). 77 fairly safe science activities for illustrating Bible lessons. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Ver Steeg, K. (1932). An unusual occurrence of stalactites and stalagmites. The Ohio Journal of Science, 32(2), 69-84. Retrieved from https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/1811/2552/V32N02_069.pdf?sequence=1.