Explore caves, critters, and rocks during virtual program on Saturday

by | May 6, 2021 | Outdoors

Caves and karst landscapes are found all over the world, yet most people are still in the dark about the great value of these systems and why they must be protected.

For this reason, cave and karst enthusiasts, biologists, hydrologists, geologists, and educators worldwide have selected 2021 as the International Year of Caves and Karst. Across the globe, educational programs are being offered to increase the public’s understanding of caves and karst.

The Virginia Cave Board and the Virginia Region of the National Speleological Society (NSS) will join this effort with a day-long virtual program on Saturday, May 8, titled, “The Secrets of Caves, Critters, and Rocks.”

The program is free and open to all, although registration is requested.

Presentations will begin at 9 a.m. ET and include cave video tours, a history of Grand Caverns, and lessons on geology, hydrology, and bats and other cave life.

Some material will align with Virginia Science Standards of Learning and will be geared toward both formal and non-formal educators.

More information is available at https://www.vacaveweek.com/iyck.

The coronavirus pandemic halted many cave-related outreach activities in the past year. People were advised not to enter caves due to the potential to pass the virus to others and to cave-dwelling bats.

“After a year of darkness due to COVID-19, 2021 is the International Year of Caves and Karst, and we look forward to shedding light again on these biologically rich and sensitive landscapes through a wonderful virtual program,” Virginia Cave Board and NSS member Meredith Hall Weberg said.

Caves and karst landscapes are prevalent in Virginia. There are more than 4,000 documented caves, and they provide habitat for rare and threatened species such as the Virginia big-eared bat (Virginia’s state bat) and the Madison Cave isopod.

Karst topography covers much of the western third of the state. Karst was created over thousands of years by the dissolving of bedrock such as limestone, dolomite, or marble by mildly acidic waters. The topography is characterized by sinkholes, sinking streams, springs, and caves.

Karst landscapes occur in 29 counties in Virginia. Thousands of Virginians west of the Blue Ridge Mountains rely on karst aquifers for their drinking water.

For more information about “The Secrets of Caves, Critters, and Rocks,” go to https://vacaveweek.com/iyck. The event will be held via Zoom.

For more information about the International Year of Caves and Karst, go to http://iyck2021.org/.

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