Northeastern Section - 49th Annual Meeting (23–25 March)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


KEEFER, Scott A., Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, SUNY College at Oneonta, 909 Grovenors Corners Rd, Central Bridge, NY 12035, BRUNSTAD, Keith A., Earth Sciences, SUNY College at Oneonta, Oneonta, NY 13820 and STANDER, Edward, SUNY College at Cobleskill, Wheeler Hall, 106 Suffolk Circle, Cobleskill, NY 12043,

A thin band of Late Silurian-Early Devonian rock stretches from the western part of New York State to the Hudson-Mohawk region, and extends southwards to Poughkeepsie. Secret Caverns, located 25 miles from Albany, is a nearly straight vadose-phreatic passage oriented 45° to the regional dip - without obvious structural or sedimentological control. The purpose of the study lay in defining the forces responsible for cavern development.

Possible reasons for the observed trend of the cave were:

1) preferred water flow along existing joint sets

2) a fault running through the cave

3) a sedimentological confining layer

4) surficial geomorphological controls

We currently believe that Secret Caverns may have formed as a result of surficial processes. Joint patterns in the vicinity do not parallel the stream passage, although there is some evidence that the entrance vadose passage may be joint controlled. Both thrust and normal faults are present in the region, but neither have been observed within the cave proper. Layers noted beneath the caverns floor were tested for solubility differences, and were found to be slightly less soluble, although not enough to act as a foci for cavern development. In the end, the most significant feature of the Secret Caverns / Benson system appears to be the large number of aligned domes that parallel the main passage. We believe that these may have formed as a result of paleostream piracy or contact sink development.