Beneath the Forest 1 Beneath the Forest is a biannual newsletter published by the Forest Service of the U.S. Depa rtment of Agriculture. Edited by Johanna L. Kovarik, Minerals and Geology Management Volume 8, Issue 2 Fall 2015 Inside this Issueand much more... Page An Evening Photo Shoot in Blanchard Springs Caverns 3 Charting New Paths: Exploring the Geology and Biota of Granite City 17 Blanchard Springs and a Billion Points of Light 23 Rapid Inventory of Cave and Karst Features Using LiDAR and Field Assessment 9 Rare and Uncommon Plants of Rockhouses: Episode Three 12
Beneath the Forest 2 CAVE AND KARST CALENDAR OF EVENTS ------------------------------------------------------------------------------American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting December 14 18, 2015 San Francisco, California http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2015/ DeepKarst 2016: Origins, Resources, and Management of Hypogene Karst April 11 14, 2016 Carlsbad, New Mexico http://deepkarst.org/ -50th Annual Meeting of the North-Central Section of the Geological Society of America April 18 19, 2016 Champaign, Illinois www.geosociety.org/Sections/nc/2016mtg International Conference on Subterranean Biology June 13 17, 2016 Fayetteville, Arkansas www.speleobiology.com/icsb2016/ National Speleological Society Convention July 16 23, 2016 Ely, Nevada http://nss2016.caves.org/index.php Editors Notes: I am pleased to present our 15th issue of Beneath the Forest, the Forest Service cave and karst newsletter, published twice a year in the spring and in the fall. Our next issue will be the spring issue in May of 2016. Articles for the Spring 2016 issue are due on April 1 2016 in order for the issue to be out in May 2016. We welcome contributions from stakeholders and volunteers as well as forest employees. Please encourage resource managers, cavers, karst scientists, and other speleological enthusiasts who do work on your forest to submit articles for the next exciting issue! Cover art: Tony Guinn gives a tour on the Dripstone Trail, Blanchard Springs Caverns, Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. See article, page 3. Image copyright: Dave Bunnell Contributors and Entities represented in this issue: Carl Beyerhelm Coconino National Forest Hal Bobbitt Lewis and Clark National Forest Dave Bunnell National Speleological Society Jim Egnew Payette National Forest David Jurney Ozark-St. Francis National Forest Polly Haessig Coconino National Forest Tamara Hocut Ozark-St. Francis National Forest Kyle Rowinski GeoCorps America Joseph Sadorski GeoCorps America Tim Stroope Minerals and Geology Management Amie Shovlain Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest David Taylor Daniel Boone National Forest
Beneath the Forest 3 An Evening Photo Shoot in Blanchard Springs Caverns Dave Bunnell National Speleological Society I had recently heard that Johanna Kovarik, Forest Service Cave and Karst Program Coordinator spent a few days working at Blanchard Springs Caverns in Arkansas, which lies within 1.2 million acres of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests. This is a cave I have long wanted to visit, but I hadn't thought about combining it with my upcoming trip to the National Speleological Society Conven tion in Missouri this past July. Johanna, knowing of my photographic skills from previous trips toge ther, suggested that the cave program there would benefit from my photos and put me in contact with Antonella Tony Guinn, who is a Visitor Information Specialist working for the Forest Service at Blanchard Springs Caverns. Tony was enthusiastic about setting up an afterhours trip for me on a weeknight in July. Working through e-mail we set up a time and I arrived with caver fr iends Rick Hines (an accomplished cave photographer as well), Ed Schultz, and Adam Zipkin. We'd all worked together before and had just spent a couple days photographing the 100-foot high waterfall room in Ennis Cave, (Photo Shoot continued on page 4) The calcite flowstone, columns, stalagmites, and stalactites in Blanchard Springs Caverns. Image: Dave Bunnell
Beneath the Forest 4 another large but undevelope d cave about half an hour drive from Blanchard. Thursday evening, July 16 we rolled into the visitor's center and met Tony, who wasn't entirely sure we were still coming as I hadn't replied to her e-mail from a couple days before (no Internet access near Ennis Cave). But fortunately she was still planning on it, a nd had recruited two other employees, Interpretive guides Megan Foll and Dalton Lewis, to help. As it turned out, having so much help really raised the bar for th e photos I could realistically attempt. Having a person with each flash is better than just trying to place them on light stands as they often need adjustments of direction and power as you check the results onscreen. Also, these great vistas in Blanchard Springs would look empty without some people on the trails as models. (Photo Shoot continue d from page 3) After conferencing a bit, we decided that our efforts should be on the upper le vel Dripstone tour section, as it has more decoration than the Discovery Tour section on the second leve l. The trail section here comprises 4/10 of a mile th rough two large rooms, the Cathedral Room and the Coral Room. We headed back out to the cars to gear up for the trip. Tripod, check. Sony Alpha-7 full-frame, 24 megapixel mirrorless camera, check. Zeiss 16-35mm lens for the Sony, check. Remote release for the Sony, check. In the flash department, I had four of my own strobes set up with Flashwave 3 radio slaves. And in case that wasn't enough, Rick had along his arma ment of about a dozen flashguns with hard wired optical slaves, about half of which we brought in with us. (Photo Shoot continued on page 5) A visitor captures an image of the beautiful formations along the Dripstone Tour at Blanchard Springs. Image: Dave Bunnell
Beneath the Forest 5 Once packed, our group of four headed down to the cave with the three Forest Service employees chatting away about mutual friends among other things. It seems the caving world is a small one. To say the least I was extremely impressed with the size, beauty, and density of decoration in the upper Dripstone portion of the cav e. Other than the ceiling, one sees almost no bedroc k as long cascades of flowstone, often grading into draperies, seem to ring the walls continuously along the path. Though we had the show cave lights on (which certainly made framing and focusing easier), for smaller scale shots we used (Continued from Photo Shoot page 4) the electronic flash to main tain consistency of color temperatures. For other areas I used just the show cave lighting, especially in a fe w areas where extra bright lighting has been installe d that is switched on momentarily during tours to facilitate photography. By shooting in RAW format I could attempt to balance the show cave lightings' color te mperature to a neutral daylight value when I processed them. However the lighting is not uniform in type, with some LED lights, some halogen lights, and some deliberately colored for effect, so a uniform look c ould not always be obtained. In some instances I mixed my flash with the show cave lighting, which made this even more problematic. (Photo Shoot continued on page 6) The Discovery tour highlights the bedrock into which Blanch ard Spring Caverns has developed. Image: Dave Bunnell
Beneath the Forest 6 In a couple cases I mixed pa rts of photos in post processing to get a uniform look. Towards the far end of the Dripstone tour, in the Coral Room, is a large rock with some lighting on top, and with Tony's permission I followed the maintenance trail up to the top and got a stunning vantag e point perhaps 20 feet (Continued from Photo Shoot page 5) above the trails to shoot from. It was also a good vantage for making some multi-shot panoramas. I think some of my favorite shots were made from here. I think we hit many of the highlights of the tour and Tony and her crew were awesome with their assistance and in helping choose some vantage points they felt would make good photos. (Photo Shoot continued on page 7) A vertical panorama of one of the sign ature formations on the Discovery Tour in Blanchard Springs. Image: Dave Bunnell
Beneath the Forest 7 I got a really fine vertical panorama out of this so was pleased to have a few nice shot s from this area as well. We also took in a visit to the springs themselves, well worth the time if you are visiting the cave. I was very pleased to have visited what I now call the "Carlsbad of the Ozarks" and to see how ni cely the forest service has developed it for tours. The lighting and tour layout are top notch. Thanks again to Tony and her crew for helping make this a great shoot! Dave Bunnell has been caving for over 40 years and is well known for his cave photography, which has appeared in books, magazines, calendars, web sites, museums, and educational media. He is the editor of the National Speleological Society's monthly full color magazine, the NSS News. We spent about six hours overall and ended up with 63 "keepers" out of what I shot About a week after getting back I had finished processing all the RAW photos and sent Tony a DVD with the results of the shoot. The next day we took the sta ndard Discovery tour and I was very impressed with that as well, especially the large haystack of flowstone surrounded by a beautiful green pool (image, page 6). Photography time is limited on these tours but I managed some decent grab shots by having a gorrilapod-mounted camera that I could quickly attach to a railing to steady the camera for several seconds to shoot with the showcave lights. (Photo Shoot continue d from page 6) Blanchard Springs, the resurgence spring draining Blanchard Springs Caverns. Image: Dave Bunnell
Beneath the Forest 8 Educational Signs for Bat Hibernacula Amie Shovlain Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Hal Bobbitt Lewis and Clark National Forest We worked with the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto and other agencies to deve lop educational signs about bats and WNS to deploy in bat hibernacula. We created two large signs to be deployed on the exterior of our two most visited sites, an d 20 smaller signs will be placed inside of the caves along with new cave registers. Sites to be sign ed were prioritized based on amount of human visitation and bat use Thanks to the Grotto and all involved with this project! Top: Sign created for posting at bat hibernacula sites (caves) in Montana. Image shared by: H. Bobbitt Bottom: One of the signs deployed along a trail on the Lewis and Clark National Forest. Image: H. Bobbitt.
Beneath the Forest 9 Rapid Inventory of Cave and Karst Features using LiDAR and Field Reconnaissance: Mogollon Rim, Coconino National Forest Kyle Rowinski GeoCorps America Joseph Sadorski GeoCorps America Carl Beyerhelm Coconino National Forest Polly Haessig Coconino National Forest The Coconino National Forest exists within North-Central Arizona a nd contains numerous physiographic and geologic provinces. The Mogollon Rim, in the Southern part of the forest, is of particular interest due to a variety of forest and geologic resources. The area is to pographically elevated from surrounding arid regions of the Verde Valley by as much as 2500 feet. The project location receives on average 31 inches of annua l precipitation and is underlain by limestone/dolos tone and basalt bedrock. Thus, caves, sinkholes, and ot her karst features are common and occur with high density. The karst terrain provides a high recharge rate to the regional karst aquifer. Therefore, surface water resources on the Mogollon Rim are abundant, some of which have been allocated to previously groundwater-dependent towns and cities. C.C. Cragin Reservoir is a prominent resource, with an available 15,000 acre-feet of water recharged by a 72 square-mile watershed. Protec tion of the reservoir is of high importance; a primary concern is the potential for a stand-replacing wildfire to occur in the ponderosapine and mixed conifer forest, which would have adverse effects on water qua lity. Established in 2015, the Cragin Watershed Protec tion Project is designed to mitigate fire risk through forest thinning and fuels reduction, while taking into c onsideration the effects of such actions on the unique karst features of the region. (LiDAR continues on page 10) Kyle Rowinski conducting on-site data recording with ArcCollector. Image: J. Sadorski
Beneath the Forest 10 In the summer of 2015, two interns from the Geological Society of Americas GeoCorps program completed an assessment of karst features in the project area and developed protection buffers to mitigate ground disturbance from project activities. LiDAR data and ArcMap were used to manually establish 284 potential karst features in the project area with subsequent spatial analyst techniques providi ng details concerning area, maximum depth, volume, and the contributing area of such features. In the planning stages of the cave and karst survey, it was thought that a geodatabase and methods existed to facilitate the rapid field inventory and assessment of karst terrain in a national forest. However it was discovered that no pre-existing template met the unique (LiDAR Continued from page 9) needs of the cave and karst survey, thus a geodatabase was designed to allow for rapid field assessment and data collection. The geodata base was input into ArcCollector and installed on a tablet for field use. Also available within ArcCollector was a LiDAR hillshade raster, providing high resolution terrain data for geologic analysis of potenti al karst features on site. Inventory and assessment wa s completed through the visual analysis of each potent ial feature in the field and recording of data through both field notes and the geodatabase within ArcCollector. Field notes consisted of a brief sketch of the location, including cross sections and dimensions. A geologic analysis of the feature was also completed, taking into consideration fluvial activity, rock type, (LiDAR continued on page 11) A screen capture from ArcCollector showin g LiDAR data (left) and information input into the geodatabase (right). Image: J. Sadorski
Beneath the Forest 11 months and with high accuracy. Results show a variety of karst types existing with in the project area including solution, pseudo, and tectonic karst. Associated features are sinkholes, ex tensive cave systems, emerging and sinking streams, and possible collapsed lava tubes. At least th ree previously unknown caves were discovered and are currently pending exploration and mapping by the forests partners, the Arizona Cave Survey. It was discovered that the majority of karst features, predominantly be drock collapse sinkholes, exist within the Miocene basa lt flows of the region, a rock type not typically asso ciated with karst due to relatively resilient chemical and physical properties. Such a conclusion offers motivation for further research. Developing resour ce protection buffers for the karst features was achieved through the downloading of data from ArcGIS Online and editing through ArcMap. An accurate footprint for each feature was manually digitized from a LiDAR rast er and assigned a level of importance: no, minor, intermediate, and major. Footprints were buffered to 0, 50, 100 and 300 feet, respectively. Fluvial systems leading into features were considered of major importance and were buffered to a width of 100 total feet, for a distance of 1000 feet upstream, and will be managed as Aquatic Management Zones. The karst feature buffers serve as a zone of exclusion from forest thinning logging equipment, thereby protecting the microclimate and ecology that has developed over time and minimizing sedimentation into the kars t features. Fuels reduction using low-intensity prescribed burning may occur within the karst terrain while meeting resource objectives developed for th e karst features. The methodology and results from the cave and karst survey, working under the Cr agin Watershed Protection Project, will provide a temp late for future surveys on additional National Forest System lands and allow for further research regarding the karst terrain on the Mogollon Rim. and surrounding geomorphology. Attributes entered into the geodatabase include d karst type, feature type, surface and subsurface geologic data, airflow presence, and more. From this data, features were ranked from minor to major importance, to aid in the establishment of protection measures. ArcC ollector also allowed for the attachment of several photos to the attribute data of each location. Wirelessly syncing the geodatabase and photographs to ArcGIS OnLi ne provided a secure on-line service from whic h GIS data could be downloaded and manipulated in ArcMap, in the office. The ease of use and feasibility of the rapid-assessment system ensured the project was completed within two (LiDAR continued from page 10) Top: A pseudokarst feature, ex isting within basalt. A cave entrance is present within the talus. Bottom: Kyle Rowinski conducting on-site data recording with ArcCollector. Images: J. Sadorski
Beneath the Forest 12 Rare and Uncommon Plants of Rockhouses: Episode Three David D. Taylor Daniel Boone National Forest This article is the third in the series. The previous two articles in the series in Beneath the Forest introduced readers to rockhouses (rocks helters) that form along cliffs in resistant rock, and to two plants that are found nearly exclusively in these shelters: filmy fern and white-haired goldenrod. In this article, another fern will be featured: a fern with a unique approach to reproduction. A recap of the discussion about rockhouses is appropriate here to remind readers what makes them unique habitats for the plant world. Rockhouses are overhangs of resistant ro ck often coupled with erosional hollows that form along cliffs. An excellent review can be found in Walck et al. (1996). Usually they are at the base of the cliff, but need not be. Some are shallow, some are large (houses have been built in them). The most complex of them have shallow and deep recesses, crevices, and dark zones, places where light does not penetrate. Honeycomb erosional pockets (tafoni) are also usually pres ent. All of these contribute to distinct microclimate z ones with the rockhouses. In general, rockhouses, at leas t the larger and more complex ones, have more stable temperatures and humidity than habitat immediatel y outside of the shelters. This is beneficial to many plants. Appalachian gametophyte fern ( Vittaria appalachiana ) is found at the back of rocksh elters, very rarely on tree bases in dark, humid gor ges (Farrar 1993). Within these rockhouses, it occupi es dark, humid crevices, ledges and tafoni where it can create a carpet on the substrate. Individual plants are se ldom over 3 mm (0.12 in) long and about as wide, but do reach up to 1 cm (0.4 in). The plants usually occur in dense overlapping clusters, making it difficult to view a single plant. They are only a few cells thick and quickly dry out when removed from the sheltered locations. The plants may have few to many branches and frequently have very small filaments at the end of br anches (see photo, page 11). These filaments are gemmae, asexual reproductive structures. Each, consisting of 2-12 cells, can form a new plant. This fern has been known since at least 1824, but was at the time identified as a liverwort (Farrar and Mickel 1991). It was recognized as a fern gametophyte around 1930, but thought to be a species of Hymenophyllum (Farrar 1978, Farrar and Mick el 1991), another fern genus known for persisting as a gametophyte. Its relationship to other ferns was not identified until much later when Wagner and Sharp (1963) determined it was a species of Vittaria. (Rare continued on page 13) The Appalachian gametophyte from below. Image: D. Taylor
Beneath the Forest 13 Farrar and Mickel (1991) proposed the name Vittaria appalachiana even later. Other work suggests that its origin might be the result of hybridization of other Vittaria species (Farrar 1990). Farrar (1990) also suggests that the sporophyte generation may have been eliminated during the Pleistocene, only the gametophytes surviving in rockhouse refugia. Typical ferns exhibit altern ation of generations, one generation (gametophyte) with half the normal amount (1n) of genetic material, and one generation (sporophyte) with the norm al amount (2n). The gametophye generation produces egg and sperm, each 1n. When egg and sperm fuse, the resulting zygote now is 2n. The zygote develops in to the typical fern plant with which readers are fa miliar. Sporophyte plants produce spores, each 1n, that germinate into gametophytes starting the cycle over. As the common name implies, Appalachian gametophyte fern exists as a gametophye; sporophytes are seldom produced. The few sporophytes that have been observed, abort while very small and do not produce spores (Farrar 1978, Farrar and Mickel 1991). (Rare continued from page 12) The plant reproduces entirely by asexual means, either through gemmae, or movement of gametophytes from one location to another by animals such as the eastern woodrat. This is the only fern known to reproduce exclusively by asexual reproduction. Several other ferns reproduce as gametophytes in part of their range, but not exclusively as gametophyte throughout their range (Farrar 1967, Farrar a nd Mickel 1991). All other ferns examined produce sporophyte plants capable of producing spores at least sometimes. So why is this fern in rockhouses? It comes down to microclimate. The fern belongs to the family Vittariaceae, the shoestring fern family. Many of the species have long narrow le aves (fronds), hence the common name. The family is al most entirely tropical or subtropical in its distributi on and almost all of the species are intolerant of frost. Appalachian gametophyte fern survives in areas that reach -29C (-20F) or colder on a yearly basis. It comes back to microclimate in the shelters. Temperatures and humidity in rockhouses are re latively stable, especially towards the back where the fern grows. As winter progress, air temperature will drop below freezing, (Rare continued on page 14) Plants through dissecting scope (left) and in wild (right). Paul G. Davidson, University of North Alabama. Used with permission Plant through microscope showing gemmae. Paul G. Davidson, University of North Alabama. Used with permission.
Beneath the Forest 14 but it does so slowly, wit hout the rapid fluctuation frequently encountered outsi de shelters. The fern is able to adjust to the cold and survive it. If it were growing outside of the shelters, rapid fluctuations would probably kill it. During summer, the rockhouse maintains humidity even when drought conditions occur. Appalachian gametophyte fern is not rare, but is frequently overlooked or mi staken for a liverwort or moss. It is found from extreme southwestern New York south through the Appalachia ns to northern Alabama, Georgia and South Caroli na, west through eastern Ohio, eastern and western Kentucky, and southern Illinois (Farrar 1993). (Rare continued from page 13) The PLANTS Database (N RCS, USDA 2015) adds Louisiana. The range corresponds to areas with appropriate habitat: noncalcareous rockshelters or otherwise sh eltered crevices, ledges and tafoni. References and Further Reading Farrar, D.R. 1967. Gametophytes of four tropical fern genera reproducing independently of their sporophytes in the Southern Appalachians. Science 155(3767):1266-1267. Farrar, D.R. 1978. Problems in the identity and origin of the Appalachian Vittaria gametophyte, a sporophyteless fern of the eastern United States. Amer. J. Bot. 65(1):1-12. Farrar, D.R. 1990. Species and evolution in asexually reproducing independent fern gametophytes. Sys. Bot. 15 (1):98-111. Farrar, D.R. 1993. Vittariaceae Smith. 190-197, p. 194. In Flora of North America. 1993. Flora of North America Editorial Committee. Vol. 2. Pteridophytes and Gymnosperms. Oxford University Press, New York, NY and Oxford, England. 475 pp. Also available online at http://www.efloras.org/ florataxon.aspxflora_id=1&taxon_id=233501343. Farrar, D.R. and J.T. Mickel. 1991. Vittaria appalachiana: a name for the Appalachian gameophtye. Am. Fern. J. 81 (3):69-75. [NRCS, USDA] Natural Resources Conservation Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 2015. The PLANTS Database. National Plants Data Team. Greensboro, NC 274014901. Available at http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile? symbol=VIAP2 Accessed 28 September 2015. Wagner, W.H., Jr. and A.J. Sharp. 1963. A remarkably reduced vascular plant in the United States. Science 142 (3598):1483-1484. Walck, J.L., J.M. Baskin, C.C. Baskin, and S.W. Francis. 1996. Sandstone rockshelters of the eastern United States with particular reference to the ecology and evolution of the endemic plant taxa. The Bot. Review (62(4):311-362 Habitat: Vittaria in the dark green at th e back. Photo taken 30 feet inside shelter. Image: D. Taylor
Beneath the Forest 15 Papoose Cave Jim Egnew Payette National Forest Cotton coveralls and carbide lamps. Five pound batteries and video tape. That was 1990 when Idaho Public Televisions (IDPTV) Outdoor Idaho program last visited Papoose Cave, Idahos premier limestone cave, in the Nez Perce Nati onal Forest. The result was two short segments that aired in 1990and 1991. Papoose is a cold, wet, alpine cave requiring vertical skills, and good clothing to avoid hypothermia in the constant 36 degree air and water temperature, and numerous wet rappels and as cents. With the first drop immediately past the entrance gate, its a committing endeavor and hypothermia is a constant concern. The Papoose Management Plan, one of the first implemented by the Forest Service, is focused on protecting the resource and caver safety. Obtaining a permit is not easy. Fast forward to 2014. IDPTV producer Sauni Symonds, a veteran of the 1990 trip, wanted to return for a 25th anniversary shoot with m odern lighting and camera gear. Gem State Grotto members Bob Straub and Jim Egnew (Payette NF geologist), along with Brian Gindling of the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto, worked with Sauni and videographers Pat Metzler and Troy Shreve to learn and pr actice vertical skills and understand how to cope with the harsh conditions. After a few months of practice, obtaining a filming permit and trip permit from the Nez Perce Forest, and the usual challenge of agr eeing on a date, the trip was on. Jim and Brian pre-rigged th e drops to save time, (Papoose continued on page 16) The Papoose Cave team including personnel from the Forest Service and Idaho Public Television. L-R Jim Egnew, Sauni Symonds, Troy Shreve, Pat Metzler, Mike Choules, Bob Stra ub, Johanna Kovarik Image : Idaho Public Television
Beneath the Forest 16 groundwater resource management in carrying out our mission. Two days of classroom instruction were accompanied by two days of field exercises that included well monitoring and the evaluation of a groundwater-dependent ecosystem. This integrated approach allowed the particip ants to immediately apply lessons learned in the classroom to field based applications. Highlights in cluded a local water-skiing divertissement, a potentiometric mapping exercise derailed by sandy feet, and some NEPA nerd from Colorado falling into a bog. Thanks go out to the GMTO staff, the instructor cadre, and staff of the Chequamegon-Nicolet Nati onal Forest for helping make this a successful week Ronna Simon measures depth to water in a groundwater well as instructor Chris Carlson expl ains the process. I: USFS Groundwater Training Course: Lake Minocqua, Wisconsin Tim Stroope, Ph.D. Minerals and Geology Management The 7th offering of the Geology and Minerals Training Office Groundwater Resource Management training course was held in Minocqua, WI and on the surrounding Chequamegon-Ni colet National Forest from June 15 to June 19. Twenty-nine agency staff from across the country part icipated in the course, bringing the total number of course graduates to nearly 180. The session opened with a welcome and introduction from the Chequamegon-Nicolet Forest Supervisor, Paul Strong, who noted the importance of and Johanna Kovarik flew in to join the fun in early June, 2015. Although the trip was successful, obtaining good video in a cave environment is not easy. One trip turned into three, and a visit to Jawdropper Cave, an Idaho lava tube, was added to the production. The finished product, Idahos Middl e Earth, is the first program of Outdoor Idahos 33rd season. It will first air October 8, and will be available for viewing online at http://video.idahoptv.org /program/outdoor-idaho/ episodes/ (Papoose continued from page 15) On Rope in Idaho. Image: Idaho Public Television
Beneath the Forest 17 Charting New Paths: Exploring the Geology and Biota of Granite City Buford Pruitt National Speleological Society Submitted and edited by: Sheryl Bryan National Forests in North Carolina If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck, right? Not always. Granite City is neither granite nor a city. Ra ther, it is a series of sub-parallel cliffs, canyons and lines of boulders within a mature mixed pine and hardwood forest on the side of Blackrock Mountain, within the Nantahala National Forest. It is a forested landscape of metamorphosed biotite gneiss cliffs and boulders that originally were igneous granite. Granite City does, however, resemble a city, in that its cliffs and lines of stacked boulders remind one of buildings, with intervening canyons being roa ds. In fact, the first (lowest) canyon that one en counters is popularly called Main Street. Because of its uniqueness, Granite City is visited by many, despite being relatively undeveloped, except for an unimproved trail leading up to the rocks from a sma ll roadside parking area. I visited two of these caves recreationally in October 2012, before the June 2014 Regional Cave Closure Order in the Southern Region to prevent the spread of White-nose syndrome. I became interested in the site initially because I wanted to survey its caves and document cave-associated biota. Shortly thereafter, I realized that Granite City was an excellent example of exfolia tion for use in developing a geologic model of the de velopment of Southern Appalachian granitic gneiss caves. Accordingly, I added the goal of surveyi ng the landscape of Granite City to produce a scaled map showing the relative location of each cliff, line of boulders, canyon, fault line, and cave. The field wo rk for this product is not completemy explorations will continue into 2016. After receiving a letter of authorization from the National Forests in North Carolina to enter the caves, I performed site surveys to survey and map its caves, collect photographs, documen t wildlife use of the caves, and make cursory sear ches for paleontological and cultural resources. I al so noted modern human impacts. I am grateful fo r the opportunity to demonstrate that a volunteer from the National Speleological Society can work successfully with Forest Service staff during the white nose syndrome epizootic. And so the story begins (Granite continued on page 18) Sliding Ceiling Cave on the Nantahala National Forest. Image: B. Pruitt
Beneath the Forest 18 Mapping the geological foundation of Granite City Many state cave surveys define a cave as a natural, enterable void in the ground th at is at least 30 feet in length in any dimension. So me state cave surveys prefer a 40-foot rule. I have used the 30-foot rule herein to define caves and then su rveyed and prepared maps of all seven voids that meet this threshold. The North Carolina Cave Survey (NCCS) employs the international definition of a cave, which is a natural, enterable void in the ground that a person can fit into. The federal definition of a cave is, ...any naturally occurring void, cavity, re cess, or system of interconnected passages whic h occurs beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge. This definition does not include mines, tunnels, aqueducts, or manmade excavations. Th ere are at le ast four of these sub-thirty internationa l caves at Granite City, two being cliff shelters that were surveyed and two being talus shelters that were not. The former two are lumped with caves and depicted as overhead environments. Prior to this study, only three of Granite Citys caves had been documented and only one had been mapped. The total length of all seven caves combined is 853 feet. There are six lines of cliffs and stacked blocks and five intervening lines of canyons caves, and fractures, all confined within a strip approximately 350 feet long and 150 feet wide. The lines of stacked blocks are believed to be exfoliation flakes created by the following process: (1) igneous granite was intruded upward as domes into preexisting strata about 525 million years ago during the Southe rn Appalachian (Taconic) Orogeny, (2) the granite was meta morphosed into gneiss by about 425 million years ago, (Granite continued from page 17) (3) the gneiss domes were e xposed after overlying strata eroded away by an absolute minimum of 4-17 million years ago (a nd likely substantially longer), (4) released from the pressure of now-gone overlying strata, the gneiss dome is rebounding by slowly expanding, resulting in sub-vertical curved flakes up to 20 feet thick separating from uphill bedrock in a nested manner sub-concentric to the dome surface, (5) these flakes then rotate away from the bedrock, creating canyons and caves, (6) and in so doing remove incrementally more pressure from the bedrock, (7) resulting in yet anothe r exfoliation flake separating, (8) while older exfoliation flakes have by now fallen down and broken up into talus. This process creates a pipel ine of cliffs, exfoliation flakes, canyons, caves, and talus that progress toward the center of a gneiss dome mountain. Considering that such pipelines may have ex isted for at least 107 years and individual cave system s for 105 to 106 years, fossils, cultural artefacts, and endemic cave biota might be found there. (Granite continued on page 20) Maynard's Living Wall Cave entrance, photo taken from beneath a rock shelter. Image: B. Pruitt
Beneath the Forest 19
Beneath the Forest 20 The present study is believed to be the second formal documentation of Granite City caves by members of the National Speleological Society and the first systematic multi-resource reconnaissance survey. It may also be the first inves tigation into the potential ages of Southern Appala chian hard-rock exfoliation caves. Documenting Subterranean Biota of Granite City Eleven animal taxa were observed in Granite City caves-three vertebrates and eight invertebrates. Bats are the only cave-adapted vertebrates documented using Granite City caves, a lthough accidentals such as the raccoon, opossum, and small rodents, amphibians, and reptiles certainly use the caves and fissures. No information has been pub lished about cave-adapted invertebrates from any North Carolina hard-rock cave, yet the potentially lengthy ages of these cave and fracture systems suggests the potential for the presence of cave-adapted invertebrates. Furthermore, since these hard-rock caves are chemically different from karst caves, it is likely that any cave-adapted animals discovered at Granite City w ould be scarcelyor newly -documented species, especially since three recently discovered invertebrates said to be specially adapted to survive without sunlight a nd with a limited food supply -a spider, a millipede, and an amphipod, are now known to live in The Nature Conservancy-owned Bat Cave 60 miles away. In September 2012, I observed a single bat (possibly, but not confirmed, Myotis sp.) in Maynards Living Wall Cave and more than a dozen bats in a nearby privately-owned cave. In 2013, I did not visit Granit e City, but noted only two bats in the private cave. In 2014, I saw no bats in Granite City or the private cave. In 2015, I saw no bats in Granite City caves but did not visit the private cave. These anecdotal counts indicate potentially reduced bat populations in the caves of Granite City and nearby. (Granite continued from page 18) The southern gray-cheeked salamander ( Plethodon metcalfi ) was found in Maynards Living Wall Cave in September 2012 and October 2014. It is often the most common epigean salamander w ithin its range, living in the detritus of mountain forest floors and rock crevices. It is also common in the regions gneiss caves and can be found anywhere in a given cave. Its eggs have never been found but are likely la id in underground cavities during late spring or early summer where females may guard them until hatching. Eggs hatch into miniature adults; there is no aquatic larval stage. It is nocturnal in epigean habitats, so dark caves could offer a daytime feeding habitat. The species probably forages in all Granite City caves. It appears to be a troglophile that is very well adapted to cave conditions. The ringneck snake ( Diadophis punctatus ) was seen once at the entrance to a small opening in the rocks on Main Street. Doubtless, it lives throughout the forest detritus and rocks at Granite City. It is an accidental. The most common invertebra te in the caves was the camel cricket ( Ceuthophilus sp.), considered a trogloxene. In warm months, camel crickets were typically found as individua ls and in several to many loose aggregations of up to several dozen or more, (Granite continued on page 21) Southern gray-cheeked salamander Plethodon metcalfi in a crevice of Maynards Living Wa ll. Image: Buford Pruitt
Beneath the Forest 21 At least two species of millipedes ( Diplopoda) were observed, neither of which were identified beyond the level of class. At leas t one may be a troglophile. Three species of spiders frequently found in Southeastern caves also occur in Granite City caves. The familiar cave spider ( Meta ovalis ) ranges from Canada to Georgia to the Mi ssissippi River, especially along the Appalachians. Unlike other members of Tetragnathidae it has short jaws and vertical webs. This web weaver is a tr oglophile, preferring the twilight zones of caves, adu lts being found only rarely in deeper recesses. Another Tetragnathid frequently found in Granite City caves is a species of long-jawed orbweaver ( Azilia affinis ) that, for lack of an accepted common name, I call the twili ght spider due to its preference for that habitat. It is frequent and common at cave entrances I have visited in Florida and North Carolina. It probably occurs in all Granite City caves. I have seen the lampshade spider ( Hypochilus sp.) in Cracker Cave and nearby caves. Its web has the shape of an upside-down lampshade that stretches vertically from a ceiling/ledge to a ledge/floor of a cave or crevice in Southern Appalachian forests and caves. It undoubtedly occurs in many of the Granite City caves as a troglophile. It is a taxonomically basal arachnid. An unidentified species of crane-fly ( Tipulidae ) was observed just inside the entrance of Sleaze Pit Cave. Like camel crickets, these dipterans emerge from the cave in the evening for nocturnal foraging. Occurring in numerous hidey-holes in the woods (e.g., hollow trees) by day, crane-flies are probably best considered accidentals. (Granite continued on page 22) mostly close to entrances within the so-called twilight zone. I have not visited Gr anite City caves during winter, but in nearby caves nearly all individuals are found in significantly larger aggregations of a hundred or more individuals somewhat more distant from entrances. Opilionids are typically distributed similarly to camel crickets in caves, but their winter aggregations are quite interesting, being characteri zed by occurring in only a few masses but each containing up to several hundred individuals. When taking flight from potential predators, it takes several seconds for one to extricate its long, bristly legs from the mass of bodies and legs in a winter aggregation, thus increasing their exposure to predation and being a good reason for having evolved a stinky aerosol. Aggregations of camel crickets and Opilionids are easily disturbed by cave visitors, although they seem to tole rate humans relatively well when they are avoided. These Opilionids are trogloxenes, but cave-adapted taxa exist in adjacent states. (Granite continued from page 20) Familiar cave spider, Meta avalis on Maynards Living Wall. Image: Buford Pruitt
Beneath the Forest 22 Updated Forest Service Handbook: Cave Safety Johanna Kovarik, Ph.D. Minerals and Geology Management At the end of Fiscal Year 2015, on September 29 the Minerals and Geology Management (MGM) Safety Handbook within the official Forest Service Handbook (FSH) was updated to include cave safety protocol and cave search and rescue planning. Included in the handbook is a sample Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) incorporating material from JHAs used in the field across National Fo rest System (NFS) lands. Under the Forest Services Interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Cave and Karst Management, the National Cave and Karst Coordinators for land management agencies incorporated into the M OU were consulted and provided review and edits. Additionally, personnel from the field across NFS lands and disciplines as well as Washington Office (WO) MGM and Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources (R HVR) staff provided Comments and review. My thanks go to these individuals, and to the sta ff at the Office of Regulatory and Management Services (ORMS) for assisting in publishing this directive in a timely manner. The new handbook can be accessed on the internet at this address, at the botto m of the page under 2800 Minerals and Geology: http://www.fs.fed.us/im/ directives/dughtml/fsh2000.html or directly by clicking this hyperlink: wo_2809 15_20.doc Cave safety begins on page 17, procedures begin on page 20, and the sample JHA begins on page 25. No fossils were observed and no excavations performed in any of the Gran ite City caves during this project. The potential ages of these caves suggest that numerous small animals over time could inhabit the site and their bones collect there. Seepage waters in nearby gneiss caves have a pH value of 5 and presumably Granite City groundwater is similarly acidic; this does not bode well for bone fossilization. However, pits that accumulate organic matter deposits that remain saturated and become anoxic could perhaps hold something of paleontological interest. There is a potential for this in some of the uppermost canyons unplumbed fissures, which I believe are slowly expanding and accumulating forest detritus and snack tr ash, but I have no evidence of saturation. Cultural resources observed have been limited to recent artifacts such as spray paint, snack trash, and foot trails. Exposed ground and passage floors were inspected for small artifacts like pottery sherds and pressure flakes and suitable locations were scrutinized for pictographs (paintings) and petroglyphs (engravings), but no sign of use by native peoples of North America was identified. (Granite continued from page 21) Forest Service Statement of Nondiscrimination : The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individuals income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDAs TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimi nation, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.. Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Beneath the Forest 23 Blanchard Springs and a Billion Points of Light Adapted from an original poster created by: Tamara Hocut Ozark-St. Francis National Forest Submitted by: David Jurney, Ph.D. Ozark-St. Francis National Forest The antiquity of human use of caverns is well documented in Kentucky and Tennessee for the last 10,000 years. There is a strong presence of prehistoric people within rockshelters caves, and open sites in Stone County, Arkansas; but ve ry little scientific study has been completed. In 1955, amateur spelunkers entered Blanchard Springs Caverns, finding a human cranium, footprints, fingerprints, a cane torch bundle of seven canes, charred cane and wood ash across the Caverns floor, as well as charred wooden torches. It appears that Indians rappelled over 75 feet into the Caverns, and explored over one mile, perhaps performing rituals and burials. The human remains were returned to the Osage Nation and Quapaw Tribe, and are housed in the Fune rary Section of the University of Arkansas Coll ections Facility. Cane and wooden torches from Blanchard Springs Caverns are dated by the radiocarbon me thod and indicate dark zone exploration by Indians for at least 940 years (AD 215-1155). The caverns were opened to the public in 1973 after ten years of development on the Dripstone Trail. Blanchard Springs Caverns received its name from the cave's source, Blanchard Springs. The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST) and the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests entered into a cooperative agreement to do a complete 3D point cloud survey scan of all the visitor facilities and cave tours. Because the infrastructure of the Blanchard Visitor Information Center and Cave rns was developed in the late 60s and early 70s, th ere is a need to look at infrastructure updates that look at safety, energy (Light continued on page 24) Blanchard Rec Area Visitor Center Top: Location of Blanchard Springs Caverns and the Ozark St. Francis National Forest wi thin the State of Arkansas. Bottom: The Blanchard and Rowland Cave System line plot displayed on the topographic ma p for the area. The location of the visitor center for Blanchard Springs Caverns is on the right side of the image. Images: T. Hocut (a dapted from a poster developed by the author.)
Beneath the Forest 24 conservation, protection of geologic features, protection of threatened a nd endangered species, and the preservation of heritage sites. New technology available today allows fo r detailed mapping of the visitor center and the cavern s so that appropriate updates can be planned. This mapping also helps resource professionals with research and modeling that will help with the preservation of this very unique site that is the home of thr eatened, endangered, and sensitive species. It is mutually beneficial for both the CAST at the University of Arkansas and the Forest Service to work (Light continued from page 23) cooperatively to develop detailed mapping data and information for the Blanchard Visitor Information Center and Caverns. The Forest Service has the responsibility to protect a nd manage all resources including geological forma tions, protected-endangeredsensitive species and their ha bitats (e.g. Indiana bats) and promote public safety within its congressionally delegated boundaries. CAST at the University of Arkansas is a recognized authority on digital reality capture, 3D analysis, and visualization research. The University of Arkansas will receive benefit by gaining expe rience in subsurface 3D mapping and big data visualiz ation, and will be able to provide students with field data collection experience.
Contents: An Evening Photo Shoot in Blanchard Springs
Caverns --Rapid Inventory of Cave and Karst Features Using
LiDAR and Field Assessment --
Rare and Uncommon Plants of Rockhouses: Episode Three
Charting New Paths: Exploring the Geology and Biota of
Granite City --
Blanchard Springs and a Billion Points of Light