Conservation & Restoration in Matienzo Caves
This page will grow. As more cavers pass through the caves, more damage will
be done. The underground environment should be conserved and, if damaged,
restored. There is a full spectrum of both conservation and restoration ranging
from none to total.
Ultimate conservation occurs when the caves remain a system with no human
input. Reasonable conservation can occur when cavers "cave softly" and leave
no or little trace. An (informal) assessment can be carried out for those
formations, sediments and cave biota which may be "at risk" and conservation
measures put in place. This may involve taping off areas and routes through
or past delicate items.
Archaeological remains stay where they are. So conservation occurs until
it is deemed worthwhile to excavate, ie something new is likely to be learned
from perhaps a new archaeological technique.
Certain formations or deposits may be restored to some extent, eg stal can
be stuck back together and formations cleaned of mud smeared on by passing
Some Americans are into virtually total conservation and restoration. This
is reflected in the extract from Cave Conservation & Restoration*,
the Minimum-Impact Code of
Ethics for caving Groups. Some of the techniques mentioned in the book
have been applied and could be further applied to the formations and deposits
in Matienzo caves.
[ *Hildreth-Werker Val and Werker Jim C, 2006. Cave Conservation
& Resoration 2006 Edition. Huntsville (AL): National Speleological
Society. 660 p. ]
C & R in Matienzo Caves
A couple of attempts have been made to gather information and rectify some
damage within our permit area - in Cueva-Cubio de la Reñada in La
Vega (site 48) and Torca La Vaca
(site 2889) at Hornedo. In the former
cave, thoughtless exploration and clambering around in areas with muddy clothes
and boots has potentially obliterated orange / red pools and flows. The problem
is outlined here. The restoration
and subsequent conservation of these formations and areas will require some
planning and support.
In Torca La Vaca, a number of formations were broken and mud smeared onto
stalagmites during the initial explorations in 2008. A trip in November repaired
a couple of small stal using the pin-and-resin method and brought out some
sections of a 157cm high, thin "totem" which had been broken into 9 pieces.
This was repaired outside the cave using a similar pin-and-resin technique
and the stal reinstalled in January 2009. Red and white tape was laid around
groups of formations which had been smeared and these were then cleaned,
or at least the cleaning process started. Cave water in a plastic flower
spray was used with sponges. The problems of conservation and restoration
in Torca La Vaca are shown
Techniques used in November 2008
1: Red and white tape is seen as the least damaging to the cave environment
(sediments, formations, cave life) but visually very obstrusive. However,
it can be removed and replaced for photos and is cheap and
easily laid out. In some cases, tape
should be supplemented, or replaced by small notices or arrows.
2: Raising caver awareness, discussion and education is perhaps the best
way to conserve delicate or attractive environments. A
Google Group thread was started and there were over 40 responses (some
serious!) within a few days.
1: Removing mud from "off route" formations possibly followed by taping and/or
small signs is one relatively simple method of restoring formations to their
original state. (Details).
2: The pin-and-resin method for repairing broken stalagmites is detailed
November 2008, January 2009