Paper No. 9-42
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
MEASURING THE EFFICACY OF GEO-INTERPRETIVE STOPS AS AN INTERVENTION TO HIGHLIGHT CAVE AND KARST KNOWLEDGE AT GRAND CAVERNS
Grand Caverns, located in the town of Grottoes VA, is the oldest show cave in continuous operations since 1806 in the United States. Grand Caverns is home to a large amount and diverse shield speleothems (also known as cave shields) in the Shenandoah Valley and host well-preserved examples of signatures from the American Civil War time. Current tours at Grand Caverns do not highlight elements of geological uniqueness of this cave. Instead, tours are designed to focus on the recent history and cultural development associated with this show cave. To alleviate this situation, in this study we “infused” geological interpretations (as geo-interpretive stops) and constructed 9 new interpretative stops along the current tour with the purpose to highlight geological important features and attributes specific to Grand Caverns and karst. Geo-interpretive stops discuss elements such as a karst, climate and event archives in the cave, dissolution processes, speleothem development, superposition, mineral growth, among others. In addition, we constructed a short post-tour survey (14 questions) to assess the impact of geo-interpretive stops, and to survey pre and post exposure to geologic topics covered during the tour. Furthermore, survey (IRB ID 22-2766) will be assessing the efficacy of adding new geo-interpretive stops on tourist’s pre-existing knowledge and interest in caves and karst. The purpose of this project is to observe how the addition of geo-interpretive stops to current tours at Grand Caverns could potentially enrich and/or contribute to the tourist experience and knowledge of caves and karst.