Heavy Rains Expose Rarely-Seen Aquifer in Texas Cave - Atlas Obscura
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Heavy Rains Expose Rarely-Seen Aquifer in Texas Cave

Just because a cave is flooded doesn’t mean it’s ruined.

You’d think that when heavy rains flood portions of a show cave, it would be potentially disastrous, but but as Austin’s Fox 7 News reportedafter recent heavy downpours caused portions of Texas’ Natural Bridge Caverns to fill with water, it actually allowed them to open up rarely seen portions of the cave system.

Located in Central Texas, the Natural Bridge Caverns are the largest set of commercial show caves in the state, and a popular tourist destination. Visitors can travel almost 200 feet underground in the caves, checking out the rare rock formations that have developed in their depths, many of which retain an organic sheen thanks to surface water that seeps through the porous, “living” limestone. As much as it gives the caves a unique aura, it is also this porousness that allows them to flood when rains up above become too heavy, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The local underground water reservoir, the Glen Rose Aquifer is located in the inaccessible depths of the caverns, and when the rain gets heavy on the surface, the aquifer’s waters rise into the commercial parts of the cavern, flooding some regular trails, giving visitors a rare view of the area’s main source of drinking water. Recent rains in Central Texas have kept the caves flooded for over a week now.  

As the rains decrease, the water level will drop back down to normal, and the aquifer will recede to its hidden location beneath the caves. But just wait until the next truly heavy rain, when the cave’s watery wonder will return.