by The American Geosciences Institute Monday, April 6, 2015
The natural entrance shown here and the “Big Room” are among the most popular sites for the more than 380,000 visitors annually to this cavern, located in a mountainous national park of the same name.
The cavern is one of nearly 120 known caves in the park carved from fossil-rich limestone that initially formed as a reef along the margin of an inland sea during the Permian. The reef was eventually uplifted into mountains by regional tectonic compression and faulting.
Unlike most limestone caves, which form when rain or seawater dissolves the carbonate rock, these caverns are thought to have been created through dissolution by sulfuric acid, which may have formed when microbially produced hydrogen sulfide combined with groundwater.
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Answer: Hosting more than 380,000 visitors each year, New Mexico’s Carlsbad Cavern is one of nearly 120 known caves in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Unlike most caves carved from limestone, Carlsbad is thought to have been created through dissolution by sulfuric acid rather than carbonic acid. Photo is by Lynne McCue. April Winners: R.J. Gauthier-Warinner (Interlochen, Mich.) Tom Kartrude (League City, Texas) Richard W. Morris (Spokane Valley, Wash.) Annika Swanson (Fairbanks, Alaska) Brent Wilkins (Collierville, Tenn.)
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