Jenolan Caves

Jenolan Caves - Where Science Rocks

August 16, 2016

Paleaontological dig at Jenolan Caves

From August 16 to 26, the Australian Museum Science Festival will celebrate science and innovation. There will be more than 300 interactive workshops, talks and shows for school students, community visitors and industry professionals. Primary and secondary students can talk to scientists from leading institutions, including several universities, 3M Australia, Code Club Australia, the Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and many others, including Jenolan Caves!

See the High School Program.

From Aug 23 to 26, Jenolan Caves will have a stall at the festival, where teachers and students can discover the many ways that scientific research and discovery is thriving at Jenolan.

Every year, hundreds of school students of all ages, visit Jenolan to engage in activities that tie in with several areas of the curriculum, mostly science.  At Jenolan, all visitors learn something about fossils and how caves are formed.  But for school groups, 

Jenolan can tailor tours to focus on specific scientific aspects of the caves.  But Jenolan is more than what you can see.  Most people are unaware that the caves are a source of ongoing scientific study, behind the scenes.

For example, the National Parks and Wildlife Service monitors the small but growing population of rare brush-tailed wallabies at Jenolan.  Also, speleologists continue to try to discover the full extent of the cave system.

The caves, particularly the Chifley, continue to be the site of scientific research.  Cave air and water are monitored, and research is being done into the ferrous content of the clay, the source of radon gas, and newly discovered bacteria.   

ANSTO has done research to determine accurate growth rates of cave formations and investigate what this reveals about weather and climate.  

Rare mineral discoveries by Ross Pogson, from the Australian Museum Research Institute, have revealed that Jenolan has been a site of animal activity for centuries. This is of interest to palaeontologists and to the wider science community.

Cross section of stalactite.

Dr Anne Musser, Honorary Research Associate with the Australian Museum, and a guide at Jenolan Caves, has recorded numerous animal and bird species for the online Atlas of Living Australia. As a palaeontologist, Dr Musser is researching the remains of extinct species (such as the Zygamaturus) which have been found at Jenolan.  She is also currently excavating a sooty owl pellet deposit in the Nettle Cave, to discover the bones of small animals, and reveal what the Jenolan environment was like during the Ice Age.

Teachers and students at the Australian Museum Science Festival, will meet Dr Musser and other expert cave guides who will be manning the Jenolan Caves stall.

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