A New World Within an Old Cave
Inner Earth, the Last Frontier
In 2001, cave explorers discovered miles of new cave passage within the Fort Stanton Cave in Lincoln County, New Mexico. The discovery was one of the largest and most important American cave discoveries in decades.
Who Found It?
A group of dedicated volunteer cave explorers working in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management in central New Mexico have been searching for new cave passage in this old historic cave for many years. One of the explorers is a longtime caver who has been “pushing” leads in Fort Stanton Cave on and off since 1970. John McLean, a retired U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist, was among the group that discovered the Snowy River passage. Lloyd Swartz, Don Becker, and Andrew Grieco completed the team of four explorers. All are members of the National Speleological Society and scientific organizations. How Did They Find It?
The Bureau is working in conjunction with the caving community to develop management direction and exploration guidelines for safe and scientifically-sound exploration. Surface mapping and resistivity studies are identifying underground voids that indicate where additional cave passages may be found beneath the surface and where connections underground could be made. Policies and procedures have been developed to improve safety and reduce risks involved with exploration, as well as provide guidance for future exploration that will protect cave resources as much as possible.