The Black Hills of South Dakota are home to natural vestiges that could help scientists broaden the data on the region’s climate and history.
One such vestige is the Persistence Cave, which has been discovered in 2004. Persistence Cave is located in the Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota.
However, the National Park Service has made the best of efforts to keep the location secret until now, as the warehouse of information that the cave represents shouldn’t be ravaged by curious looks before the scientists map the cave accordingly and extract all vestiges and information.
Persistence Cave is a pristine site and the beginning of its exploration was met with great enthusiasm by the team of scientists from the Eastern Tennessee University led by Jim Mead.
For now, efforts are being made to unearth the entrance to Persistence Cave. Bags of sediment have been carried away and among the extracted sediment results are already starting to show.
11,000 year-old bones have been extracted so far, among which the remnants of three extinct species which have never been recorded in the area before. These are the pika, platygonus and the pine marten.
It is this kind of findings that are relevant for Professor Mead who said that the pika for instance is now found in Wyoming, but has never been on record in the Black Hills.
This indicates that the climate of Black Hills could have been as cold as that of Wyoming once. And from this perspective, climate change can be understood in a different light.
Against this background, all findings will be studied in relation to mapping the changing of the region’s climate. In addition to the Persistence Cave, there are a number of fossils that will be included in the same overarching effort.
In the 1970s the Hot Springs region unearthed what is now known as the Mammoth Site. The fossils found there, as well as the ones waiting to be unearthed in Persistence Cave will pave the way for a better understanding of the Ice Age inflicted changes in the environment and climate of the region.
Exploration in the Black Hills is just in its advent, yet, as more sediment is removed, renewed forces will join the efforts. South Dakota and Colorado spelunkers teams are ready to jump in and explore what is thought to be a connection tunnel with Wind Cave.
If the two caves are indeed connected by a tunnel, the National Park Service is planning to set an environmental gate in order for amateur spelunkers to travel from Persistence to Wind.
That will not be done without taking into consideration the preservation of the caves and natural conditions.
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