Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 62 Number 2: 54-59 - August 2000

A publication of the National Speleological Society

History of sulfuric acid theory of speleogenesis in the Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico
David H. Jagnow, Carol A. Hill, Donald G. Davis, Harvey R. DuChene, Kilmberly I. Cunningham, Diana E. Northup, and J. Michael Queen


The history of events related to the sulfuric acid theory of cave development in the Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico, USA, is traced from its earliest beginnings to the present. In the 1970s and early 1980s, when this hypothesis was first introduced, the reaction was one of skepticism. But as evidence mounted, it became more accepted by both the speleological and geological communities. Nearly 30 years after it was introduced, this theory is now almost universally accepted. In the last decade, the sulfuric acid theory of Guadalupe caves has been applied to other caves around the world. It has also impacted such diverse fields as microbiology, petroleum geology, and economic ore geology. This theory now stands as one of the key concepts in the field of speleology.

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