Geology & Speleology
Cascade Caverns offers you an opportunity to go back in time 140 million years.
The more we know about caves, the more we can tell about geological history. Also the more we see what nature has done and the time involved, the smaller we seem to be.
In the beginning all the area of rock we are now in was once beds of silt mud and shell on the bottom of the sea. The erosion by wind and water has eaten away material from the high land and deposited it below the sea, sometimes several thousand feet deep. During the formative period of the earth these mud beds raised above the sea and dried out. They cracked much like a small mud puddle does, the mud shrinking and cracking in rough squares. This is the start of the cave. The lifeline of the cave as it is known. When water entered these tiny cracks it dissolved the then soft material enlarging some of the cracks. Later fresh water streams flowed through these cracks bringing vegetation and other organic matter from above, which rotted causing carbonic acid to form which eats away at the limestone, further enlarging the cracks. This action is still going on. The deposit of formation’ comes later, when surface water reaches through mineral deposits dissolves them and re-deposits them in the cave in the forms we see now. The minerals most common in our cave are calcium, magnesium, and iron oxide, or common rust.
The most common forms are flowstone on walls and floors and stalactites from the ceilings. There are few stalagmites growing upward because the cave we now see is only the top portion of the whole original cave. During the major period of formation growth the cave extended much deeper, therefore these types of formations have been covered by centuries of debris. At times in the past the water table was much lower than at present and allowed the formation to grow far below the present cave level. We have evidence of this by finding much large thick formation in the lower level extending into the water table.