Mammoth Cave

By Amber Petty

History of National Parks

In 1872, Yellowstone became the first national park in the world, and the National Park Service was established in 1916. National parks are important because they protect many different organisms and as well provide a place for people to enjoy nature.
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Mammoth Cave is located in Kentucky, at the latitude of 37.186989 and at the longitude of -86.100540. The nearest city to Mammoth cave is Brownsville, located approximately 1.3 miles away, or a 4 minute drive away.


Mammoth cave has a moderate climate, with warm summers and cold winters, the average amount of precipitation is about 46 inches a year. Mammoth cave is located in a path of storm systems, meaning storms can happen all year.

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History of Mammoth Cave

The first humans entered Mammoth cave around 4,000 years ago, and for 2,000 years they continued to explore the cave. It wasn't until the end of the 18th century that humans entered Mammoth cave once again. Mammoth Cave first became a park July 1, 1941.

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Mammoth cave is primarily made from sedimentary rocks such as, sandstone, limestone, and shale. Mammoth cave has many geological structures such as stalagmites, stalactites, and flowstones. Stalagmites are cove shaped structure that are formed when minerals fall from the ceiling above. Stalactites are cone shaped structures hanging from the ceiling and are formed by minerals collecting on the ceiling. Flowstones form when water flows into the floor and/or down the side of the cave. Mammoth Cave is located on the North American Plate.

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When plates shifted it caused cracks in the layers of rock, water traveled into these cracks further into the rock, causing erosion. Over time this erosion of rock turned into caves, leaving underground rivers traveling through it. Over time because of the moist, rainy weather in Kentucky, erosion while continue to erode away the stone making the cave, larger.

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Geological Timeline

350 million years ago Kentucky was submerged under a warm sea and for the next 70 million years sediments from the organisms living there, depositing limestone. 300 million years ago deposited sand and silt creating a layer of sandstone and shale. 280 million years ago continent began to rise causing cracks in layers. 3 million years ago rainwater started filling cracks and creating the cave's tunnels. Today water continues to eat away at the limestone walls, making the cave larger and larger over time.

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Problem Park Faces and Solutions

Coal-fired power plants emit mercury which is polluting the air and the water around the cave, putting many of the organisms found around the cave in danger. Many of the species found in this cave are only found in this cave, putting these animals endanger of extinction. A solution would be to change the coal-fired power plant to a more eco-friendly power source such as solar or wind power.

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Fun Facts

  • Mammoth Cave is the largest cave
  • 3 endangered species live in the cave Kentucky cave shrimp, Indiana bats, and Grey bats.
  • Starting in the 1830s, slaves led tours through the cave.

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