Luray Caverns

August 12, 2016


Photographer: Patti Weeks
Summary Authors: Patti Weeks; Jim Foster


August 2016 

Viewer's Choice





The Luray Caverns of Virginia were evidently first discovered in 1878 by local residents who could feel cool air rising from a sinkhole. These caverns began to take shape some 400 million years ago in what it now the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Like most cavern complexes, acidified water and carbon dioxide percolating through porous limestone rock resulted in a variety of speleothems. In places like Luray and the Mammoth Caves of Kentucky, huge underground chambers allow tourist to walk easily through the amazing formations that include stalactites and stalagmites, columns (where stalactites and stalagmites growing from the top and bottom of the caves meet), reflecting pools and draperies.

The photo at top shows Dream Lake, a crystal-fed pool only a few inches deep. What appears to be stalagmites at the bottom of the picture is actually a reflection of the stalactites above. The photo at left shows Saracen’s Tent, one of the most well-formed draperies (flowstones) found anywhere. Draperies are created by the continuous trickling of carbonated water down corrugated cave walls. Note that the reddish, yellowish or brownish colors are due to seepage of iron deposits. Photos taken on August 3, 2016.

Photo Details: Top - Camera Maker: SONY; Camera Model: DSC-RX100M4; Lens: Sony 24-70mm F1.8-2.8; Focal Length: 8.8mm (35mm equivalent: 24mm); Aperture: ƒ/1.8; Exposure Time: 0.050 s (1/20); ISO equiv: 800. Bottom - same except: Focal Length: 11.56mm (35mm equivalent: 32mm); Aperture: ƒ/2.5; Exposure Time: 0.100 s (1/10).