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Unexplored Black Hills Cave May Shed Light On Region’s History

The Badlands

The National Park Service is starting to excavate the mouth of an unexplored cave located in South Dakota’s Black Hills and according to The Washington Post, researchers believe that its exploration could shed light on the region’s climate change while also offering other insights into the region’s history.

In what is referred to as “The Southern Hills” area of the Black Hills, one can find the highest point in the United States east of the Rockies, Harney Peak, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

The cave which a team of scientists are scheduled to begin excavating on Monday was first discovered by a park service worker back in 2004. The cave’s entrance is located on the grounds of Wind Cave National Park, which is located on the western side of the state.

The team scientists excavating the cave are being led by East Tennessee State University professor Jim Mead, who was quoted by The Associated Press in a report on CBS Minnesota as having said that “it’s nice to have a number of different points” when reconstructing “past environments of the Black Hills,” which is why the team will soon begin to haul out bags of sediment and animals bones for analysis.

In reconstructing the past environments of the Black Hills, it’s nice to have a number of different points (…) What we’re trying to do, centered through the Mammoth site, is to understand essentially the Ice Age environmental change through time.

In what was in part an attempt to prevent amateur spelunkers from diving into the well-preserved site, the park service has kept a lid on the cave’s discovery — that is, up until now.

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