A stalactite is a type of formation that hangs from the ceiling of caves, hot springs, or manmade structures such as bridges and mines. Any material, soluble, can be deposited as a colloid, or is in suspension, or is capable of being melted, may form a stalactite. Stalactites may be composed of lava, mud, pitch, sand and amberat. A stalactite is not a speleothem, though speleothems are the most common form of stalactite because of the abundance of limestone caves; the corresponding formation on the floor of the cave is known as a stalagmite. The most common stalactites are speleothems, they form through deposition of calcium carbonate and other minerals, precipitated from mineralized water solutions. Limestone is the chief form of calcium carbonate rock, dissolved by water that contains carbon dioxide, forming a calcium bicarbonate solution in underground caverns; the chemical formula for this reaction is: CaCO3 + H2O + CO2 → Ca2This solution travels through the rock until it reaches an edge and if this is on the roof of a cave it will drip down.
When the solution comes into contact with air the chemical reaction that created it is reversed and particles of calcium carbonate are deposited. The reversed reaction is: Ca2 → CaCO3 + H2O + CO2An average growth rate is 0.13 mm a year. The quickest growing stalactites are those formed by a constant supply of slow dripping water rich in calcium carbonate and carbon dioxide, which can grow at 3 mm per year; the drip rate must be slow enough to allow the CO2 to degas from the solution into the cave atmosphere, resulting in deposition of CaCO3 on the stalactite. Too fast a drip rate and the solution, still carrying most of the CaCO3, falls to the cave floor where degassing occurs and CaCO3 is deposited as a stalagmite. All limestone stalactites begin with a single mineral-laden drop of water; when the drop falls, it deposits the thinnest ring of calcite. Each subsequent drop that forms and falls deposits another calcite ring; these rings form a narrow, hollow tube known as a "soda straw" stalactite.
Soda straws can grow quite long, but are fragile. If they become plugged by debris, water begins flowing over the outside, depositing more calcite and creating the more familiar cone-shaped stalactite; the same water drops that fall from the tip of a stalactite deposit more calcite on the floor below resulting in a rounded or cone-shaped stalagmite. Unlike stalactites, stalagmites never start out as hollow "soda straws". Given enough time, these formations can meet and fuse to create pillars of calcium carbonate known as a "column". Stalactite formation begins over a large area, with multiple paths for the mineral rich water to flow; as minerals are dissolved in one channel more than other competing channels, the dominant channel begins to draw more and more of the available water, which speeds its growth resulting in all other channels being choked off. This is one reason; the larger the formation, the greater the interformation distance. Another type of stalactite is formed in lava tubes; the mechanism of formation is the deposition of material on the ceilings of caves, however with lava stalactites formation happens quickly in only a matter of hours, days, or weeks, whereas limestone stalactites may take up to thousands of years.
A key difference with lava stalactites is that once the lava has ceased flowing, so too will the stalactites cease to grow. This means; the generic term lavacicle has been applied to lava stalactites and stalagmites indiscriminately and evolved from the word icicle. Like limestone stalactites, they can leave lava drips on the floor that turn into lava stalagmites and may fuse with the corresponding stalactite to form a column. Shark tooth stalactites, it may begin as a small driblet of lava from a semi-solid ceiling, but grows by accreting layers as successive flows of lava rise and fall in the lava tube and recoating the stalactite with more material. They can vary from a few millimeters to over a meter in length. Splash stalactites As lava flows through a tube, material will be splashed up on the ceiling and ooze back down, hardening into a stalactite; this type of formation results in a irregularly shaped stalactite, looking somewhat like stretched taffy. They may be of a different color than the original lava that formed the cave.
Tubular lava stalactites When the roof of a lava tube is cooling, a skin will form that traps semi-molten material inside. Trapped gases force lava to extrude out through small openings that result in hollow, tubular stalactites analogous to the soda straws formed as depositional speleothems in solution caves, The longest known is 2 meters in length; these are common in Hawaiian lava tubes and are associated with a drip stalagmite that forms below as material is carried through the tubular stalactite and piles up on the floor beneath. Sometimes the tubular form collapses near the distal end, most when the pressure of escaping gases decreased and still-molten portions of the stalactites deflated and cooled; these tubular stalactites will acquire a twisted, vermiform appearance as bits of lava crystallize and force the flow in different directions. These tubular lava helictites may be influenced by air
A soda straw is a speleothem in the form of a hollow mineral cylindrical tube. They are known as tubular stalactites. Soda straws grow in places where water leaches through cracks in rock, such as on the roofs of caves. Soda straws in caves grow more than a few millimetres per year and may average one tenth of a millimetre per year. A soda straw can turn into a stalactite if the hole at the bottom is blocked, or if the water begins flowing on the outside surface of the hollow tube; these tubes form when calcium carbonate or calcium sulfate dissolved in the water comes out of solution and is deposited. In soda straws, as each drop hovers at the tip, it deposits a ring of mineral at its edge, it falls and a new drop takes its place. Each successive drop of water deposits a little more mineral before falling, a tube is built up. Stalagmites or flowstone may form. Soda straws are some of the most fragile of speleothems. Like helictites, they can be crushed or broken by the slightest touch; because of this, soda straws are seen within arms' reach in show caves or others with unrestricted access.
Kartchner Caverns in southern Arizona has well-preserved soda straws because of its recent discovery in 1974 and regulated traffic. Straws can form beneath man-made structures and grow faster than in the natural cave environment; these forms are classified as calthemites as opposed to the speleothems growing in natural environments. Their chemistry differs from those found in caves because they are derived from concrete, mortar or other calcareous material. Calthemite soda straws have been recorded as growing up to 2 mm per day in length, hundreds of times faster than speleothem soda straw growth rates averaging 2 mm or less per year. Showcaves.com definition and explanation The Virtual Cave soda straw photos A photo of some amazing soda straws in south eastern France
Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park is an American national park in the southern Sierra Nevada, in Fresno and Tulare Counties, California. Established in 1890 as General Grant National Park, the park was expanded and renamed to Kings Canyon National Park on March 4, 1940; the park's namesake, Kings Canyon, is a rugged glacier-carved valley more than a mile deep. Other natural features include multiple 14,000-foot peaks, high mountain meadows, swift-flowing rivers, some of the world's largest stands of giant sequoia trees. Kings Canyon is north of and contiguous with Sequoia National Park, the two are jointly administered by the National Park Service as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks; the majority of the 461,901-acre park, drained by the Middle and South Forks of the Kings River and many smaller streams, is designated wilderness. Tourist facilities are concentrated in two areas: Grant Grove, home to General Grant and Cedar Grove, located in the heart of Kings Canyon. Overnight hiking is required to access most of the park's backcountry, or high country, which for much of the year is covered in deep snow.
The combined Pacific Crest Trail/John Muir Trail, a backpacking route, traverses the entire length of the park from north to south. General Grant National Park was created to protect a small area of giant sequoias from logging. Although John Muir's visits brought public attention to the huge wilderness area to the east, it took more than fifty years for the rest of Kings Canyon to be designated a national park. Environmental groups, park visitors and many local politicians wanted to see the area preserved. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt expanded the park in 1940, the fight continued until 1965, when the Cedar Grove and Tehipite Valley dam sites were annexed into the park; as visitation rose post–World War II, further debate took place over whether the park should be developed as a tourist resort, or retained as a more natural environment restricted to simpler recreation such as hiking and camping. The preservation lobby prevailed and today, the park has only limited services and lodgings despite its size.
Due to this and the lack of road access to most of the park, Kings Canyon remains the least visited of the major Sierra parks, with just under 700,000 visitors in 2017 compared to 1.3 million visitors at Sequoia and over 4 million at Yosemite. Kings Canyon National Park, located on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada to the east of the San Joaquin Valley, is divided into two distinct sections; the smaller and older western section centers around Grant Grove – home of many of the park's sequoias – and has most of the visitor facilities. The larger eastern section, which accounts for the majority of the park's area, is entirely wilderness, contains the deep canyons of the Middle and South Forks of the Kings River. Cedar Grove, located at the bottom of the Kings Canyon, is the only part of the park's vast eastern portion accessible by road. Although most of the park is forested, much of the eastern section consists of alpine regions above the tree line. Snow free only from late June until late October, the high country is accessible via foot and horse trails.
The Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness encompasses over 768,000 acres in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, or nearly 90 percent of their combined area. In addition to Sequoia National Park on the south, Kings Canyon is surrounded by multiple national forests and wilderness areas; the Sierra National Forest, Sequoia National Forest and Inyo National Forest border it on the northwest and east, respectively. The John Muir Wilderness wraps around much of the northern half of the park, the Monarch Wilderness preserves much of the area between the park's two sections. Kings Canyon is characterized by some of the steepest vertical relief in North America, with numerous peaks over 14,000 feet on the Sierra Crest along the park's eastern border, falling to 4,500 feet in the valley floor of Cedar Grove just ten miles to the west; the Sierran crest forms the eastern boundary of the park, from Mount Goethe in the north, down to Junction Peak, at the boundary with Sequoia National Park. Several passes cross the crest into the park, including Bishop Pass, Taboose Pass, Sawmill Pass, Kearsarge Pass.
All of these passes are above 11,000 feet in elevation. There are several prominent subranges of the Sierra around the park; the Palisades, along the park's eastern boundary, have four peaks over 14,000 feet including the highest point in the park, 14,248 feet NAVD 88 at the summit of North Palisade. The Great Western Divide extends through the south-central part of the park and has many peaks over 13,000 feet, including Mount Brewer; the Monarch Divide, stretching between the lower Middle and South Forks of the Kings, has some of the most inaccessible terrain in the entire park. In the northwest section of the park are other steep and rugged ranges such as the Goddard Divide, LeConte Divide and Black Divide, all of which are dotted with high mountain lakes and separated by deep chasms. Most of the mountains and canyons, as in other parts of the Sierra Nevada, are formed in igneous intrusive rocks such as granite and monzonite, formed at least 100 million years ago due to subduction along the North American–Pacific Plate boundary.
However, the Sierra itself is a young mountain range, no more than 10 million years old. Huge tectonic forces along the western edge of the Great Basin forced the local crustal block to tilt and uplift, crea
Flowstones are composed of sheetlike deposits of calcite or other carbonate minerals, formed where water flows down the walls or along the floors of a cave. They are found in "solution caves", in limestone, where they are the most common speleothem. However, they may form in any type of cave. Flowstones are formed via the degassing of vadose percolation waters. Flowstone may form on manmade structures as a result of calcium hydroxide being leached from concrete, lime or mortar; these secondary deposits created outside the cave environment, which mimic the shapes and forms of speleothems, are classified as "calthemites" and are associated with concrete degradation. Flowing films of water that move along floors or down positive-sloping walls build up layers of calcium carbonate, gypsum, or other cave minerals; these minerals are dissolved in the water and are deposited when the water loses its dissolved carbon dioxide through the mechanism of agitation, meaning it can no longer hold the minerals in solution.
The flowstone forms when thin layers of these deposits build on each other, sometimes developing more rounded shapes as the deposit gets thicker. There are two common forms of flowstones and travertine. Tufa is formed via the precipitation of calcium carbonate, is spongy or porous in nature. Travertine is a calcium carbonate deposit formed in creeks or rivers; the deposits may grade into thin sheets called "draperies" or "curtains" where they descend from overhanging portions of the wall. Some draperies are translucent, some have brown and beige layers that look much like bacon. Though flowstones are among the largest of speleothems, they can still be damaged by a single touch; the oil from human fingers causes the flowing water to avoid the area, which dries out. Flowstones are good identifiers of periods of past droughts, since they need some form of water to develop. Flowstone derived from concrete, lime or mortar, can form on manmade structures, much more than in the natural cave environment due to the different chemistry involved.
On concrete structures, these secondary deposits are the result of concrete degradation, when calcium ions have been leached from the concrete in solution and redeposited on the structure's surface to form flowstone and stalagmites. Carbon dioxide is absorbed into the hyperalkaline leachate solution; this facilitates the chemical reactions which deposits calcium carbonate on vertical or sloping surfaces, in the form of flowstone. Concrete derived secondary deposits are classified as "calthemites"; these calcium carbonate deposits mimic the shapes of speleothems, created in caves. E.g. stalagmites, flowstone etc. It is most that calthemite flowstone is precipitated from leachate solution as calcite, "in preference to the other, less stable polymorphs and vaterite." Other trace elements such as iron from rusting reinforcing or copper oxide from pipework may be transported by the leachate and deposited at the same time as the CaCO3. This may cause the calthemites to take on colours of the leached oxides.
Cave onyx is any of various kinds of flowstone considered desirable for ornamental architectural purposes. "Cave onyx" was a common term in certain areas of the United States—particularly the Tennessee-Alabama-Georgia area and the Ozarks—during the 19th and early 20th centuries, being applied to calcite speleothems that were banded in a way suggestive of true onyx. There are a number of US caves called "Onyx Cave" because of the presence in them of such deposits; the Virtual Cave: Flowstone
Giant Sequoia National Monument
The Giant Sequoia National Monument is a 328,000-acre U. S. National Monument located in the southern Sierra Nevada in eastern central California, it is administered by the U. S. Forest Service as part of the Sequoia National Forest and includes 38 of the 39 Giant Sequoia groves that are located in the Sequoia National Forest, about half of the sequoia groves in existence, including one of the ten largest Giant Sequoias, the Boole Tree, 269 feet high with a base circumference of 112 feet; the forest covers 824 square miles. The monument is in two sections; the northern section surrounds General Grant Grove and other parts of Kings Canyon National Park and is administered by the Hume Lake Ranger District. The southern section, which includes Long Meadow Grove, is directly south of Sequoia National Park and is administered by the Western Divide Ranger District, surrounding the eastern half of the Tule River Indian Reservation; the Giant Sequoia National Monument was created by President Bill Clinton in Proclamation 7295 on April 15, 2000.
The Presidential Proclamation was published in the Federal Register, April 25, 2000, Vol. 65, No. 80 The Presidential Proclamation required that a management plan be completed within three years. In January 2004, the Sequoia National Forest published and began implementation of the Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan, which provided for use by an international public as well as for the protection and restoration of 33 giant sequoia groves and their ecosystems. Subsequently, two lawsuits were brought challenging the Plan. In October 2006, Federal District Court Judge Charles Breyer found in favor of the plaintiffs and remanded the Plan to the U. S. Forest Service "…so that a proper Monument Plan can be developed in accordance with the Presidential Proclamation,… and in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act …"In January 2008, the Sequoia National Forest published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register that they intended to prepare an environmental impact statement and was beginning a year-long collaborative scoping process for development of a new Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan.
As of August 2010 only one location in the Monument, the Generals Highway, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but the Monument does have several hundred sites that are eligible for the Register. Ecology of the Sierra Nevada List of giant sequoia groves List of largest giant sequoias List of plants of the Sierra Nevada Fauna of the Sierra Nevada Flora of the Sierra Nevada Sequoia National Forest: official Giant Sequoia National Monument website Sequoia National Forest: Photo Gallery — of several Giant Sequoia groves within the monument. USFS: Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument homepage Sequoia National Forest: Overview and Administration of the Monument — includes proclamation establishing monument in 2000. Indianbee.com: Video of Giant Sequoia Falls
Kings River (California)
The Kings River is a 132.9-mile river draining the Sierra Nevada mountain range in central California in the United States. Its headwaters originate along the Sierra Crest in and around Kings Canyon National Park and form the eponymous Kings Canyon, one of the deepest river gorges in North America; the river is impounded in Pine Flat Lake before flowing into the San Joaquin Valley southeast of Fresno. With its upper and middle course in Fresno County, the Kings River diverges into multiple branches in Kings County, with some water flowing south to the old Tulare Lake bed and the rest flowing north to the San Joaquin River. However, most of the water is consumed for irrigation well upstream of either point. Inhabited for thousands of years by the Yokuts and other native groups, the Kings River basin once fed a vast network of seasonal wetlands around Tulare Lake that supported millions of waterfowl and game animals, in turn providing sustenance for indigenous peoples. Tulare Lake was once the largest freshwater lake in the western U.
S. at the middle of an endorheic basin fed by the Kaweah and Kern Rivers. The river was named by Gabriel Moraga, the commander of a Spanish military expedition in 1806, but it was not until California became a U. S. state in 1850 that many Europeans arrived and settled along the Kings River, driving out the area's original inhabitants. Logging and livestock grazing inflicted significant environmental damage on the upper parts of the river system, before the federal government moved to establish national parks and preserves there; the Kings has a long history of water development, going back to the mid-19th century when farmers made their first attempts to irrigate with Kings River water. In the early 1900s Tulare Lake and its surrounding wetlands were diked and reclaimed for agriculture; the battle for control over Kings River water produced extended conflicts, including a set of dams proposed in what would become Kings Canyon National Park. Today, the river irrigates about 1.1 million acres of some of the most productive farmland in the country, is used extensively for hydropower generation, water-based and backcountry recreation.
All three forks of the Kings River originate as snowmelt in the high Sierra Nevada mountains. The Middle and South Forks begin in Kings Canyon National Park, join in the Monarch Wilderness to form the Kings River; the North Fork, which begins in the John Muir Wilderness of the Sierra National Forest, joins the Kings River further downstream near Pine Flat Lake, the only major reservoir on the river. Much of the upper Kings River consists of remote backcountry and wilderness areas, accessible only by non-motorized trails; the entire upper course of the Kings River is in Fresno County. The 44-mile South Fork is the longest tributary of the Kings River, originating on the Sierra Crest at the far eastern edge of Kings Canyon National Park, it flows south flows west through the Cedar Grove section of Kings Canyon, a glacial valley with high granite cliffs and a meadow floor, compared in appearance to Yosemite Valley. The Middle Fork flows for 37 miles through some of the park's most difficult-to-access backcountry, including Simpson Meadow and Tehipite Valley.
The South and Middle Forks converge in the Monarch Wilderness at an elevation of 2,257 feet just outside the national park to form the Kings River in the deepest part of Kings Canyon. With 10,051-foot Spanish Peak towering above the north side of the river, summits as high as 8,400 feet on the south side, Kings Canyon is both deeper and narrower than the Grand Canyon. Below the confluence of the Middle and South Forks, the Kings River flows swiftly westward for about 30 miles, carving a canyon more than 5,000 feet deep in places. Major tributaries of the Kings River in this section include Tenmile and Mill Flat Creeks, both from the south. Another notable feature along this area of the Kings Canyon is Garlic Falls, a tiered waterfall on a tributary of the Kings more than 800 feet in height; the canyon is roadless as far as the Upper Kings Campground near Verplank Creek. The Kings River receives the North Fork from the right near Balch Camp; the North Fork is about 40 miles long and flows through the Sierra National Forest.
It is dammed at Wishon Reservoir, which serves as the lower reservoir for the Helms Pumped Storage Plant, one of the biggest pumped-storage hydroelectric plants in California. The North Fork passes through several other hydro plants; the main Kings flows into Pine Flat Lake, the large reservoir created by Pine Flat Dam, which can store up to 1,000,000 acre feet of water. Constructed in 1954, Pine Flat Dam provides flood control and hydroelectricity for the southern San Joaquin Valley; the Kings River emerges from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada near Piedra, about 10 miles downstream of Pine Flat Dam. From there it flows across the sloping alluvial plain of the San Joaquin Valley, which today is one of the most productive agricultural regions of the United States. Here the Kings River encounters a large number of diversions that serve both irrigation and flood control purposes. Two key irrigation structures along the lower river are the People's Weir.