Caverns of Sonora Facts
- The term of the Caverns of Sonora remains a somewhat misleading name for this feature, though that in no way diminishes its awesome nature. In point of fact, the site constitutes a single, though in many ways highly impressive, cave.
- In modern times, the site first came to the attention of man in the early 1900’s, following its discovery by local ranch workers. It currently remains unknown if local Native American tribes ever knew of its existence, though this seems quite unlikely.
- The breathtaking site lists as a world-class cave, due to the abundance and splendor of its many features. As a result, it now holds the status of a National Natural Landmark. With this in mind, the Federal and local governments encourage preservation.
- The Caverns of Sonora nevertheless now constitute a major tourist attraction in the region. As such, it first opened for public tours in 1960. The presence of tour guides and the installation of walkways and railing strives to maintain its condition.
- Sadly, however, prior to these actions, the site suffered damages from the actions of inattentive or uncaring explorers. The most tragic such loss was the destruction of part of a natural mineral formation that strongly resembled a butterfly.
Caverns of Sonora Physical Description
To date, the full dimensions of the fantastic Caverns of Sonora still remain unknown, since it’s still being explored. When first discovered, only 2 mi (3.2 km) of the outer portions were known. Currently, a total of 7 mi (11.2 km) has been explored and documented.
The original entrance to the caves has been expanded, since it only equaled a tiny opening measuring 20 in (51 cm). Once inside, however, a marvel of Nature awaits. It’s filled with many narrow passages lined with countless stalagmites and stalactites of all sizes.
In fact, one particular section of the Caverns of Sonora remains filled with so many of these, it makes passage nearly impossible. Locals long ago named this section of the show cave the snake pit. Most of these are also still actively forming and expanding.
Caverns of Sonora Location and Formation
If one thinks about it for very long, the very name of the gorgeous Caverns of Sonora serves to provide a clue as to to its location. This marvelous work of Nature formed in what now constitutes the state of Texas, in the United States, in North America.
The overall geological structure within which the truly beautiful site formed formed around 100 million years ago. The cave itself, though, formed much later. More precisely, geological evidence indicates that it formed between 1.5 and 5 million years ago.
The point on the earth over which it sits resides atop an ancient fault. This placement long ago allowed gases to rise from a point about 1.5 mi (2.4 km) beneath the surface. At that depth, those same gases mixed with water, forming a highly acidic substance.
This substance eventually dissolved the surrounding soft limestone, giving birth to the cave. Then, between 1 – 3 million years ago, the water drained from the cave. Subsequent to that, the many natural formations began to slowly take shape within the Caverns of Sonora.