The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 36 Number 4: 1-6 - October 1974

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Structural Control of Cavern Development in Howe Caverns, Schoharie County, New York
William J. Gregg


Development of the main, 4000-ft passage of Howe Caverns, Schoharie County, New York, previously has been attributed to solution along a local fault partially exposed in a nearby quarry. Various features of passage morphology within the Caverns have been correlated with the fault zone by previous authors and these features have been cited as evidence supporting a general concept describing the development of the largest cavern systems in New York State. Current investigations show that the fault in question has not been a significant factor in the development of the main passage of Howe Caverns. This passage is related to cavern development subparalled to the regional strike of bedrock, with modifications of passage morphology thorugh joint control. The hypothetical extension of this fault to the Northwest Passage of McFail's Cave, as attempted by previous workers, has been justified neither by the author's survey nor by those of other workers presently involved in field investigations.

Field studies have shown that the presence of a fault within a cavern does not necessarily imply that faults are more important as zones of groundwater infiltration than are joints and that, in certain instances, faults may act as relatively insoluble zones during passage development.

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