Experience Science

Speleology & Geology

Cascade Caverns

The Amazing World of Caves

The Study of Caves

The scientific study of caves is called speleology. It is a multidisciplinary field that draws on knowledge from geology, hydrology, biology, archaeology, and other disciplines. Speleologists study the formation, evolution, and structure of caves, as well as the organisms that live in them. They also use caves as a window into the past, studying the fossils and artifacts that are found in them.

Mastodon Fossil

See the photo below of a six-foot-long Mastodon tusk found in the cave.

Living Creatures

The cave is full of life from algae and bacteria to creepy crawly creatures found nowhere else in the world.

The minerals most common at Cascade Caverns® 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 a much large thick formation in the lower level extending into the water table.

Twin Sisters

Giant Molar

The Skull

Solutions Domes

It's Alive with wildlife

Critters & Crawlers

Meet our Cave Dwellers

The Cave is currently home to several unusual insects and animals. A unique species of salamander was found in the Lake Room. It has done us the honor of taking Cascade Cavern®, as its common name. In addition, two kinds of unusual frogs have been identified – the Cliff and Leopard Frogs, as well as other critters like Tri-Color Bats, Cave Ground Beetles, Cave Harvestmen, and Cave Crickets.

Paleontology & Biology

mastodon Tusk Cascade Caverns

Paleontology is a fascinating and rewarding field of studying fossils. It offers the opportunity to learn about the history of life on Earth and to understand the processes that have shaped our planet.

One of the most spectacular surprises has been the mastodon remains. In clearing additional mud from the front room to widen the passageway several years after the original excavations, a tusk six foot long was uncovered, circled around a rock.

Today there are only a few fragments of it left, due to early souvenir hunters, erosion from flooding, and decay. At the time it was discovered, there was flesh and hair around it. The flesh and hair disintegrated as soon as the air contacted them, while the workmen stood and watched.

The tusk was broken and so fragile it was decided not to try to move it. Also, the dry air would have turned it into chalk. In more recent times a mastodon shinbone appeared deeper in the cave.

In addition, bones of the saber-toothed tiger, the bison, and other more recent animals have been found along with those of man. Indian artifacts, remains of guns, and interesting geological specimens were removed. Some were sent to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C., to the University of Texas in Austin, to St. Mary’s in San Antonio, and to other institutions for study and identification. Many of the items stayed here in the Park. Most of these items were stolen while the Park was closed during World War Two.

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Cascade Caverns

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