Field Trips

The National Cave and Karst Research Institute will offer three optional field trips for the 2013 Sinkhole Conference goers; a surface field trip focusing on evaporite karst phenomena and karst hydrology of the lower Pecos region, an underground tour of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, and an afternoon tour of Carlsbad Cavern Big Room. 
Field Trip Schedule
Monday, May 6, 7:30 am-1:30 pm

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

On Monday morning we are offering an underground tour of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) east of Carlsbad. 20 people maximum. Foreign nationals will need to complete and submit an Unclassified Foreign Visitor form to no later than 15 March 2013, and provide a copy of their passport or visa and a photo ID when they arrive. (More Information)

Tuesday, May 7, 7:30 am-5:30 pm

Evaporite karst of the lower Pecos valley

On Tuesday we offer a full-day surface tour of sinkholes and other gypsum karst features of the lower Pecos valley between Carlsbad and Roswell, NM. Evaporite karst processes have played a fundamental role in shaping the geomorphology of the lower Pecos region and controlling groundwater flow patterns. This trip will focus on engineering and environmental hazards associated with gypsum karst, including the formation of anthropogenic sinkholes associated with brine well operations, and the role of evaporites as confining beds in the Roswell Artesian Basin. The trip will end at Bottomless Lakes State Park east of Roswell, where giant gypsum cenotes serve as groundwater discharge outlets at the downstream end of the regional artesian aquifer system in the Roswell Basin. Box lunch provided. Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and sturdy shoes are advised.

Thursday, May 10, 7:30 am-1:30 pm

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

An encore tour of the WIPP site for those who missed it the first time, or for those who would like a half-day break from technical sessions. See Monday’s trip description for details.

Friday, May 11, 12:30 am-5:30 pm

Walking tour of Carlsbad Cavern Big Room

On Friday afternoon we are offering a walking tour of the Big Room in Carlsbad Cavern, a classic example of hypogenic-sulfuric acid speleogenesis. A shuttle will depart from the conference center at 12:30 pm. Lunch will be available for purchase at the Carlsbad Caverns visitors center, and the tour will begin after lunch at 2:00 pm. Access will be via elevator into the Big Room 230 m below ground level. Carlsbad Cavern is generally considered to be one of the most spectacularly-decorated large caves on earth, and is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. The cave is developed in the middle Permian Capitan Reef Formation and associated backreef carbonates. Primary sedimentary structures associated with the Capitan Reef are still visible in the Big Room.

A complete circuit of the Big Room will take about 2 hours on paved trails. The park provides in-cave artificial lighting, but the cave experience is greatly enhanced when visitors also bring their own light source. Because this is a national park, rock hammers are not permitted, but cameras, tripods and backpacks are welcome. Due to concerns about the spread of White Nose Syndrome, we ask that all participants refrain from wearing any clothing, footwear or other gear that has been in any other cave.