Monday, May 14, 2012

Underground of Enchantment

 This weekend, my mother and I decided to take a day trip south to visit a museum in Ruidoso, the Hubbard Museum of the American West, which is currently hosting a traveling exhibit of Lechuguilla Cave. This cave is located near Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico. There are more than 117 known caves, formed by sulfuric acid eating away at the limestone walls.

The special inner rooms of Lechuguilla Cave were only recently discovered in the 80's, when people noticed winds in the cave, and got special permission to dig in the rubble flooring. Because of the fragility of the formations, and the size of the cave, Lechuguilla will probably never be opened to the public.  The cave is still being explored. It is already 130+ miles long and is the seventh longest cave in the world. 

This museum exhibit included the following photographs with 3-D viewers that really enhanced the already stunning photographs. 

They said I could take pictures, so I did. Click on photos to bigify. The green borders are the photographs of photographs, showing the walls behind. 

 Here's the Misery Hole entrance.

The museum also showed a video and I took a few screen captures. I love the skeletal look of this rappelling caver.

Here is a map of the cave. It is still being explored by scientists and cavers with special permission. The photos in his exhibit were taken over a ten day excursion. 

Here is another caver descending the cave walls. The dark borders are screen grabs from the video and not nearly as clear, sorry.

Doesn't it look like he's standing inside a geode? 
 Here is one of the internal pools. The water is clear and pure, uncontaminated by rain water. 
The following photo shows the little 3-D viewers mounted on the wall under the photos.

Isn't this formation stunning?

And look at this one, just like a sugar confection.

The drapes and chandeliers of aragonite are just amazing.

Such delicate formations, unbelievable, isn't it?

Check out these "eggs".

I think the Buddha in the Throne Room is my favorite.

Upside-down mushrooms? Look closely at the straws and droplets of "water".

 Here are some more of the very beautiful and delicate formations of gypsum and aragonite.

There is a person in the bottom right of the photo which gives you an idea of the size of some of these formations.

Many science experiments are being performed in the cave. Live bacteria have been found in the walls.

Just look at this pool of water with it's "lily pad" like formations.

I really like this photo. In the video, the light went down and down the tube, lighting it up along the way.

So there you go, a tour of the very special, magical, and mystical Lechuguilla Cave. I hope you enjoyed it. I sure did.

Soon, I hope to post photos of all the different saddles, carriages, and coaches we saw in the main room of the museum... and the rest of our Mother's Day road trip to Ruidoso and back.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Wow, that's pretty neat. Love all those pictures. Mother Nature is amazing.

Rising Rainbow said...

Wow, these are amazing. I don't know how people can look at such wonders and not believe.

Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

Great photos. That would be an incredible experience to see it in person. The Hubbard Museum is a great place. Betty and I were there about 6 years ago.


Ed said...

Very cool, thanks for this post, I love caves..:-)

Reddunappy said...

Wow NM has some very beautiful places and history!!!
Thanks for taking us along!

achieve1dream said...

Whoa!!! Those are so amazing! I've still never been in a cave and this makes me want to see one even more lol. Thank you for sharing!