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Science in Burnsville Cove


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Current State

The "Science in Burnsville Cove 2018" report from Will White and the BCCS Science Committee:

BCCS Science 2018 Report

Interesting Potential Research Projects in Burnsville Cove

Will White, a long time BCCS member, cave explorer, and Geosciences Professor Emeritus at Penn State, put together a list of research projects that could be conducted in Burnsville Cove for presentation at the October 1, 2016 BCCS Annual Business Meeting. Here are his slides and a writeup on the potential science Dr. White has suggested.

BCCS Future Science slides Will White Feb 2017

BCCS Future Science Will White Feb 2017


Sinking Creek Grant

In 2016, the Butler Cave Conservation Society established a science grant program, the Sinking Creek Grant. Its purpose is to provide small monetary grants, typically on the order of a few hundred dollars, to help defray costs associated with carrying out cave and karst science research in and around Burnsville Cove, Virginia.


Previous Recipients:

2018    Emily Brent - Geology and geomorphology of Owl Cave

2017    Jennifer Macalady - Microbial cave slime research in Burnsville Cove


Major scientific publications dedicated to Burnsville Cove


Geologic controls on cave development in Burnsville Cove:

Swezey et al 2017 Burnsville Cove GSA FIELD GUIDE

The Caves of Burnsville Cove, Virginia. Cave and Karst Systems of the World, Springer Publishing Switzerland, 2015.



Burnsville Cove Symposium, National Speleological Society Bulletin 44, number 3, 1982.

https://caves.org/nss-business/publications/JCKS/Bulletin/Vol%2044%20num%203.pdf (NSS Members only)

Deike, G.H., III, 1960, Origin and geologic relations of Breathing Cave, Virginia: Bulletin of the National Speleological Society, v. 22, pt. 1, p. 30-42.



Scientific papers and other publications relevant to the cave and karst of Burnsville Cove

Age of sediments in Sand Canyon, Butler Cave

Swezey et al 2021 Butler Cave Sediments GSA ABSTRACT

Quaternary history of Browns Pond (karst sinkhole on Tower Hill Mountain):


Analysis of isotopes in stalagmites from Owl Cave


Structural features in Burnsville Cove


Geology and Geomorphology of Owl Cave (Siphon No. 1 Cave):


Evidence of Silurian-age paleo-karst at Water Sinks reef:


Conditions in Burnsville Cove during the last glacial maximum, work by Chris Bernhardt analyzing core samples in the Water Sinks:


USGS Core Sampling in the Water Sinks (Phil Lucas private communication summary).pdf

Cole, S.R., Haynes, J.T., Lucas, P.C. et al. Faunal and sedimentological analysis of a latest Silurian stromatoporoid biostrome from the central Appalachian Basin. Facies 61, 12 (2015).


Cole et al., 2015; Faunal and sedimentological analysis of a latest Silurian stromatoporoid biostrome from the central Appalachian Basin.pdf (posted with permission from P. Lucas, one of the authors.)

Haynes, John. (2014). The geological setting of Breathing Cave. In book: Breathing Cave, Bath County, Virginia, Edition: Monograph # 1, Publisher: Virginia Speleological Survey, Editors: Robert Zimmerman, pp.32-60


Lucas, Philip C., et al., International Congress of Speleology 2013 (Texas, USA), p. 2100, A Method for Detecting Cave Connections by Inducted Air Flow.

Induced Air Flow Lucas ICS paper 09 0103

Chess, Daniel et al., Acta Carsologica 39(1), 11-26 (2010), CLASTIC SEDIMENTS IN THE BUTLER CAVE – SINKING CREEK SYSTEM, VIRGINIA, USA



Scientific papers and other publications relevant to the flora and fauna in and around the cave and karst of Burnsville Cove


Edwards, A., 2019, Water bear hunting in West Virginia and Virginia cave and karst: NSS News, v. 77, no. 5 (May 2019), p.9-11.

Holsinger, J.R., Culver, D.C., Hubbard, D.A., Jr., Orndorff, W.D., and Hobson, C.S., 2013, The invertebrate cave fauna of Virginia: Banisteria, v. 42, p. 9-56.

Hubbard, D.A., Jr., 1994-1995, Update on the invertebrate cave fauna of Burnsville Cove, Va.: Butler Cave Conservation Society (BCCS) Newsletter, v. 20, p. 29-30.

Holsinger, J.R., 1982, A preliminary report on the cave fauna of Burnsville Cove, Virginia: NSS Bulletin, v. 44, p. 98-101.

Cooper, J.E., 1962, Cave records for the salamander Plethodon r. richmondi Pope, with notes on additional cave-associated species: Herpetologica, v. 17, no. 4, p. 250-255.



Compiled list of the rare animals of Virginia, included a number found in Burnsville Cove.:

Rare Animals, Natural Heritage Technical Report 16-07, February 2016





Publications about the exploration of the caves in Burnsville Cove

Caves and Karst of the Water Sinks Area By Philip Lucas. This is a free ebook; hardcopy is also available on lulu.com.



[The website editor welcomes any additions or corrections to this list.]


ResearchGate suggested search




Fictional publications about caving in Burnsville Cove

The webmaster apologizes for including a fictional publication on the "Science" page, but there didn't seem to be a better place for this at the time.