Project 3 Trainee Rebekah Nicholas Takes Butler Cave Sampling Trip

Aug 29, 2022 | Project 3 (Fate & Transport), PROTECT Trainees

On June 18th, PROTECT Project 3 trainee Rebekah Nicholas took a trip to Butler Cave in Burnsville Cove, Virginia, with the purpose of collecting samples for research for her master’s thesis. Two Butler Cave Conservation Society members and one student grotto member joined her.

Rebekah went into the cave needing two kinds of core samples. The first were taken below inferred water levels at sites in the cave. The second samples were taken above the water level at those same sites.

Rebekah and team began their venture into the cave in the morning to reach their first sample location in Sand Canyon, a large sand bank area that occasionally has a small stream flowing next to it. Here, Rebekah took one sample where water should be flowing, and a second sample on the dry bank next to the stream. The next destination in the cave was near a glassy calcite lake called the “Moon Room.” Samples were taken from a stream and bank just outside the area. The final sample location for the day was a side passage with a sand bank and mud cracks between Sand Canyon and the Moon Room.

All samples were collected using an AMS soil corer that has a polyethylene core sleeve within it, and a slide hammer. Samples taken were wrapped in plastic wrap and aluminum foil for preservation. By the end of the trip, Rebekah and the team had about twenty pounds worth of samples that Rebekah can now use in work for her thesis.