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Locating a Sealed Cave in Kentucky Using Electrical Resistivity Surveys

1 Kentucky Geological Survey, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
2 Morehead State University, Morehead, KY
3 Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Frankfort, KY
4 Academy of Science of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

Special Issues: Geophysical imaging in karst terrain

Clifton Cave in Woodford County, Kentucky, was known as the habitat for two unique cave-dwelling species only found living in the cave and associated nearby habitats. The cave was surveyed in 1964, but the only cave entrance was destroyed and sealed by road improvements in 1970. To determine whether these species are still present in the cave and to plan future conservation efforts, researchers need to regain access to the cave. A vertical access hole into the cave passage was proposed because the 1964 cave survey provided the general location of the cave passages. In order to determine potential drilling sites to locate cave passages, we conducted two electrical resistivity surveys. Orientation, length, electrode spacing, and location of the surveys were designed to detect three estimated cave passage targets. The survey results showed excellent correspondence between the high resistivity anomalies and all the estimated targets. Although survey results have not been confirmed by drilling, the excellent correspondence suggested the electrical resistivity method is a promising reconnaissance tool for locating caves at relatively shallow depths.
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