The Lehman Caves – Great Basin N.P, NV

The Lehman Caves

The Lehman Caves

The Lehman Caves (a single cavern despite the name) extends a quarter-mile into the limestone and marble that flanks the base of the Snake Range. Discovered about 1885 by Absalom Lehman, a rancher and miner, this cavern is one of the most profusely decorated caves in the region.

What we see today began hundreds of thousands of years ago. Surface water, turned slightly acidic from carbon dioxide gas, mixed with water deep below the surface, dissolving the soluble rock at the horizontal water table. Evidence of the dissolving action from the slowly circulating water was recorded in the rock walls of the cave, in the form of spherical domes in the ceilings and spoon-shaped scallops on the walls. Eventually, the water drained from the cave, leaving behind hollow rooms and sculptured walls.

Then came the second stage of cavern development. Water percolated downward from the surface, carrying with it small amounts of dissolved limestone (calcite). Drop by drop, over centuries, seemingly insignificant trickles deposited wonders of stone. The result is a rich display of cave formations, or as scientists call them, speleothems.

The Lehman Caves

The Lehman Caves

Lehman Caves has such familiar cave formations as stalactites, stalagmites, columns, draperies, flowstone and soda straws. There are also some rarities such as shields, which consist of two roughly circular plates fastened together like fattened clam shells, often with graceful stalactites and draperies hanging from their lower plate. Lehman Caves is most famous for its abundance of shields.

A shield called the Parachute and other formations make touring Lehman Caves an unusual and rewarding experience. Delicate helictites, small branching formations that defy gravity, and anthodites, small needle-like crystals of aragonite, are also found throughout the caves. Cave popcorn resembling the edible variety, adorns many walls

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Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 4:22 PM  Comments Off on The Lehman Caves – Great Basin N.P, NV  
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