THE CAVERNS ECOLOGY
The balance of nature inside caverns
is disrupted by tourists and spelunkers invading this natural
domain. We the public, defend the right to do this by observing
the beauty found underground and to teach others about the
balance of nature and what man can do to preserve our precious
resources that exist under the surface.
What is placed on top of the earth
penetrates the earth's surface. In doing so the underground
environment is contaminated. Sometimes this contamination
is quickly reversible but depending on the contaminant it
may not. Millions of people obtain their drinking water from
underground sources. This alone is reason enough to guard
this natural world.
An example of the former is the contamination
of a cave in Kentucky. The town, built over the cave obtained
its drinking water from an underground stream traversing through
it. Unfortunately, the outhouses the townspeople used gradually
contaminated their own water supply as the bacteria made its
way through the rock into the stream. Recently the town put
in public sewage and the contamination was ended. Gradually
the cave is restoring itself to its former clean environment.
This is a good example of problems that man created, man can
In addition to sewage, land fills are
a source of contaminating the underground environment. Now
more precautions are taken to prevent this or to curb the
harmful effects of them.
Hazardous material spills and open
garbage dumps can end up contaminating the water supply of
homes in the vicinities of these spills. As a result poisons
or carcinogens can be introduced into water supplies.
Green plants which grow inside the
caverns are not found there naturally. Spores are carried
or brought into caverns by air currents and on peoples' clothing.
The light gives them a life source. Fertilizers are brought
into caverns on the lint from peoples' clothing. The detergents
we use contain phosphates which help the plants grow. Ridding
caverns of plant life is a constant battle.
Please leave this page with the knowledge
that what we do on the surface is reflected in the precious
underground environment. We as stewards of the earth must
always be conscious of our duty to do whatever is in our power
to protect it.
In areas where there are many caves
or caverns, numerous appearing and disappearing streams, and
sinkholes are called karsts areas. It is important in municipal
planning that industries are not allowed to build in these
areas. One main reason is due to the ease of groundwater pollution
and contamination. Another reason is the integrity of the
underlying ground where the buildings are placed. The karsts
area around Indian Echo Caverns goes from an area called the
East Mall east of Harrisburg then through the Hummelstown
and Indian Echo Caverns area, near the Hershey Medical Center,
through Hershey and into Palmyra. There are a great number
of sinkholes that suddenly appear in these areas.
Sinkholes are part of the underground
water system. They take place just like a gully or washout
would occur on the surface. They are formed as a result of
this underground erosion; the surface gives way and a hole
in the surface suddenly appears.