Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:05 PM


DORALE, Jeffrey A., Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Iowa, 121 Trowbridge Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242-1379,

Cave studies have a rich history in the Earth sciences. Arguably the early part of that history was quiet and perhaps even underappreciated, but it has set the stage for an explosive contemporary scene in cave studies. Why the intense, recent interest? There is no single answer to that question, but a number of factors have converged to bring increased visibility to cave-based research. The protected and stable nature of many cave settings engenders a certain high-quality nature to the information preserved in them. Advances in analytical techniques have benefitted nearly all fields in the Earth sciences, but have been a definite boon to work on cave deposits, particularly speleothems, which often grow very slowly and benefit greatly from high-resolution sub-sampling and smaller sample size requirements. Anchored by a precise and often highly-accurate chronology established by U-series dating, numerous other proxies provide environmental information; including fossils, artifacts, speleothem geochemistry, mud, and others. It is interesting that some of the approaches taken today are truly new and creative, while others have changed little from their beginnings decades earlier. Caves are without question fruitful areas for scientific research, but in this modern era of fast-paced research I believe it is worth keeping in mind that caves, in general, are delicate settings and deserve our utmost respect. Cavers have long abided by the rules of respect, and I urge the new generation of scientists to follow suit as they pursue their research.