Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The Carlsbad Caverns National Park contains between its boundaries more than 100 known caves. The most impressive and beautiful one of those caves is the Lechuguilla Cave. This cave is not open to the public, access is extremely restricted to protect its beauty.

All caves in the park are not exactly karst caves. A certain amount of the limestone solution depends on chemical and biochemical processes connected with sulphurous thermal springs. The sulphur, fed by sulphur loving bacteria, is converted into sulphurous acid, which dissolves the limestone. The sulphur is also the reason for the various gypsum-based speleothems, as gypsum is CaSO4, ad thus a product of the chemical reaction between limestone and sulphur.

The ratio between karst processes and biochemical solutuion varies from cave to cave in the park. In Carlsbad Cavern, which is rather close to the surface, most of the cavern is formed by karst processes and there are little gypsum speleothems.