studying speleology

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studying speleology

Postby markbrow10 » Nov 18, 2007 10:08 pm

Dear All

Hello I am new to Speleology and Caving in general but after watching the "Planet Earth" episode "Caves" a year back and having a life long interest in exploring caves (The earliest time I can remember was when I was 5 years I wanted to explore a wombat hole - Not exactly caving or a good thing) I have began to think caving may be my ultimate career

I may be asking a question that may have already been asked and answered,

Is there uni courses in speleology?

Thanks

Mark Brown
- 'Never Fear Mark is Here!'
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Nov 18, 2007 11:49 pm

Here are some:

Karst Geoscience Programs in the US
http://www.caves.org/section/geogeo/programs.html

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Postby ggpab » Nov 22, 2007 9:26 am

Hi Mark,

Do you know what kind of 'speleology' are you interested in?

- Biological aspects with critters you can see (bats, insects, etc),
- The low lying scum of the bacteria
- The hard bit having to do with the rock geology
- The elusive and sub-visible geochemical aspects.
- Where does all that water go? the hydrological aspects
- Keys to the earth's past from loose gravel and speleothem sediments.
- The magic of speleogenesis - The birth of the karst system
- Synthetic caves, figuring out the mathematical model aspects
- Human impacts on karst, and the vagueries of trying to live on it.



Since each uni that does have a karst researcher, or a programme (whether official or not) has a different focus, you will need some idea of what aspects you are interested in first. For example, if you are interested in the bacterial aspects, then there are a couple of places that are really good at that, but the flip side is that some of the bigger karst programmes won't provide you with much at all in that area.

However if you are just getting started, you might not have your interests narrowed down too much yet, but that is understandable. Glad you posted your email as it is a great first step.

I am wondering what stage you are at? Are you trying to find a college programme, or do you already have a degree in something and so are looking for graduate studies?


Cheers
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Re: studying speleology

Postby geniussalmonpatty » Jan 9, 2008 7:07 pm

I, too, am interested in a career in speleology, specifically in the organisms that inhabit the caves. I find it so interesting that the evolutionary path can take such a radical turn in under such isolated and extreme conditions. I am currently a senior in college majoring in environmental studies, and am looking for graduate schools. I have searched and have not had any luck. Please help!!!
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Re: studying speleology

Postby Teresa » Jan 9, 2008 9:15 pm

Pick a critter you'd like to study. Find a biologist Ph.D. interested in that critter or a college department which specializes in that critter or topic. (You could ask here who studies cave critter X-- someone here is likely to know, or try a search on "evolutionary biology".) Contact them and tell them of your interest. You could also contact someone with the NSS Biology Section, and ask them for guidance about professors/schools.

Assuming environmental studies is a rather generalist degree, you likely would need to take some remedial biology courses to get into grad school. For example: say you decide on cave fish. You would likely have to have general biology, zoology, vertebrate zoology, general icthyology, taxonomy, some microbiology or DNA specific courses before you could achieve your goal of knowing enough to study cave fish evolution on the grad school level. :yikes:

You probably could convince a faculty advisor to take you on if you show enough enthusiasm, and drive to work hard, but it will be more difficult that just going from being a biology major into studying X critter.

Good luck, and if you want it bad enough, go for it! :banana_yay:
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Re: studying speleology

Postby ggpab » Jan 23, 2008 11:37 am

Hello all,

I am just wondering how many potential future cave scientists are out there. Two have spoken up on this post already, but are there more?

What I am wondering is if there might be value in putting together a handbook to help students figure out more systematically what you would like to do, and how to take specific steps towards making your interest reality. If not a handbook per se, then we could also strike up mentoring situations to provide more solid and specific answers to questions and uncertainty which might be on the list, but also maybe through direct emailing where difficult and sometimes personal questions can be handled.

Any takers, both on the student side, but also on the 'professional cave scientist' side?

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Re: studying speleology

Postby ggpab » Feb 3, 2008 9:58 pm

Hi,

Check out the new thread at:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=6244

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Re: studying speleology

Postby cavemanjonny » Feb 5, 2008 9:44 pm

ggpab wrote:I am just wondering how many potential future cave scientists are out there. Two have spoken up on this post already, but are there more?


I'm juuuuust about finished with my undergrad stuff. By August I should have my B.S. in Geology, assuming I can't think of some clever way to delay graduation any further.

Studying speleology is actually my primary goal. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a program that focuses on what I'd REALLY like to study: structural controls on speleogenesis.

I'm sure that those programs exist, I just don't know about them. There seem to be plenty of karst hydrologists, speleopaleoclimatologists (anyone have that somewhere on their CV?), speleoarchaeologists, speleopaleontologists, speleo art historians, paleoethnospeleotheologists, etc. Are there any karst structural geologists?

For example, say you have a big, slightly inclined anticline in a big bed of limestone. This structure gets eroded away into a big anticlinal valley. Now, because the anticline was slightly inclined, the limestone dips slightly more on one side of the valley than on the other. What effect will the geometry of this eroded fold have on cave development. Will the differently-dipping beds on either side of the valley have profoundly different caves? THAT'S the kind of stuff I'd like to study.

This particular example may already be well understood. I must admit I'm not an exceptionally well-read speleologist (I've been busy trying to get up to speed with the the general geology stuff :grin:). The point is, it's that kind of stuff I'd like to study. Anybody know of anyone that does this kind of research??
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Re: studying speleology

Postby rpaylor » Feb 10, 2008 2:22 pm

Hey, if you haven't got it already, you should pick up a copy of 'Cave Geology' from the NSS bookstore. I'm sure it's destined to be a classic. I just got my copy, and plan to read it cover-to-cover. It talks quite a bit about geologic controls on cave development. Here's the link:

http://nssbookstore.org/index.php?mode= ... er=01-0609

And dropping Art Palmer an e-mail couldn't hurt, he may have some ideas about places to study.
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Re: studying speleology

Postby cavemanjonny » Feb 10, 2008 5:33 pm

Awesome, thanks. I'll definitely try to pick up a copy of Cave Geology. I hadn't heard of it before. I also plan on spamming every single cave geologist out there with emails, which reminds me...

WARNING TO ALL CAVE GEOLOGISTS:
You are about to be spammed by me, trying to find out about graduate school. I apologize in advance.

Not really, but I do plan on kicking up the search a notch or two.
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Re: studying speleology

Postby ggpab » Feb 10, 2008 7:24 pm

Hi Jonny,

Here is the beginning of a list to look at w.r.t. cave geology, and structural controls on speleogenesis. This list is obviously incomplete and by its nature always will be. I have tried to stick to people who have a demonstrated interest in line with the example you provided. You are right - the list would be much much longer if you wanted hydrogeology/paleoclimate/geomicrobiology/numerical modeling, etc. I am including some people who might not actually be available but whose names are likely to pop up. IF ANYONE SEES ANY GLARING OMISSIONS THEN PLEASE JUST ADD THEM. I am just trying to be helpful here and any oversights are simply due to this being from my head (and clearly not in any particular order) and a first draft at that.

Art Palmer - SUNY-Oneonta - retired - and there was unfortunately no graduate program at SUNY-Oneonta anyway.
Derek Ford - McMaster (Canada) - retired -
Will White - Pennsylvania I think - retired
Ralph Ewers, Eastern Kentucky - retired (see rpaylor later post)

Peter Smart - Bristol (UK) - active
Fiona Whitaker - Bristol (UK) - active
Chris Smart - University of Western Ontario (Canada) - active
John Mylroie - Mississippi I believe - (hyper)active (sorry John - can't help it)
Ira Sasowsky - Akron - active
Ben Schwartz - Texas state university - active
Joyce Lundberg - Carleton (Canada) - active
Daryl Granger - Purdue - active
Pierre Yves Jeanin - Neuchatel (Switzerland) - active
Philip Haeuselmann - Univ Nat Resources & Appl Life Sci, Austria
Stein Erik Lauritzen - Norway - active
Andy Baker - U Birmingham - active
Jim Carew - S. Carolina? - active I think
Paolo Forti - U. of Bologna (Italy) - active
Calvin Alexander - Minnesota - still active I think.
Dan Doctor - USGS - they might have studentships!
Alexander Klimchouk - although I do not know if he supervises students.
Augusto Auler - Univ Fed Minas Gerais, Brazil - not sure if takes students
Bogdan Onac - South Florida - active
Phil van Beynen - South Florida - active
Len Vacher - South Florida - active
Dominique Genty - Belgium - active
Victor Polyak - New Mexico - active
Chris Groves - Western Kentucky - active
Todd Halihan - Oklahoma State - active
Ian Fairchild - U Birmingham - active

Carol Wicks -- U Missouri Columbia (see Teresa post below)
Doug Gouzie -- Missouri State Springfield (see Teresa post below) (sinkholes and their structural relationship)
Robert Criss -- Washington University in St. Louis (see Teresa post below - urban karst)


Of course, who should be on this list depends on how strictly you might:
- divide hydrogeochemistry/geomicrobiology/paleoenvironmental reconstruction from the cave geology and speleogenesis
(I personally keep them pretty close and so could add another 20-30 names to the list, easy!)
- if you are able to study internationally for graduate research
- if you can study in any language other than English.

All the best.
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Last edited by ggpab on Feb 13, 2008 8:02 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: studying speleology

Postby cavemanjonny » Feb 10, 2008 8:59 pm

Thank you SOOOO much for compiling this list!! It has been more helpful than you can imagine!! You're a saint!
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Re: studying speleology

Postby Teresa » Feb 10, 2008 10:19 pm

Missouri:

Dr. Carol Wicks -- UM Columbia
(some might class her as a hydrogeo, but has supervised structural control theses)
Dr. Doug Gouzie -- Mo State Springfield (sinkholes and their structural relationship)
Dr. Robert Criss -- Wash U St. Louis (urban karst)

Possible summer fieldwork: Randall Orndorff (USGS Reston) or contact USGS Little Rock, AR

If wanting to do work in the Ozarks, becoming a technical dive cave diving certified geologist would be a plus. Most air-breathing geos rely on the divers for photos, video and samples; while excellent procurers of data, I've known one diver who was geo-trained, and he had some very different takes on what he saw than what we second-handers are coming up with. Scientific diving is a young, fit person's game; if I knew then what I know now, I might have tried it myself 25 years ago.
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Re: studying speleology

Postby ggpab » Feb 11, 2008 10:16 am

We seem to have lost Mark Brown who was looking for an undergrad / first degree programme, and who also started this thread, and geniussalmonpatty who looks set to finish up on an environmental studies degree and also might need some ideas on who to contact for an MSc program.

Mark Brown - have you had any luck?

geniussalmonpatty - would you like to get a list going of the active karst biology researchers too? Are you interested in visible creatures or bacteria?

In all cases here is another concrete thing you should all consider doing. Go to a conference!

For Jonny - you should look at "Karst from recent to reservoirs: International conference on paleokarst & multi-permeability flow systems" (http://karstwaters.org/paleokarst/) Take a road trip; get there somehow. There is likely to be somebody from your area going there anyway. This one is going to be drawing in an international crowd, with a good number of people from Europe. Get ahold of John Mylroie, or Ira D. Sasowsky, who are both organizers. Explain the situation and offer to volunteer your labor before, during and after the conference. You might also find that costs can be moderated if you are flexible about shoring rooms, or heck, taking the floor. This might be doing AV, shifting tables, distributing name tags, all the types of things that get you face to face with everyone there. In a matter of one week in June, you will have leap frogged so far forward in figuring out what, who, where, $, and everything that might be possible.
For your interests, you should also be looking at the Sinkhole conference that is held every couple of years: http://content.asce.org/conferences/KARST08/index.html

geniussalmonpatty - you might also benefit from volunteering and at the paleokarst conference as it is looks set to be the biggest draw this year - although there are going to be few biospeleologist or critter people there. However there are others that might be better suited to you: This one unfortunately was last year - http://hoffman.wku.edu/karst2007/k2007.html There is also the second Appalachian Karst Symposium coming up in May which do you well - http://www.etsu.edu/physics/appkarst/. The perfect one for you might the International Symposium on Subterranean Biology - but it is a long swim away and unless you are thinking of launching yourself internationally might not be worth it. (http://www.issb2008.org.au/ - but boy does that look cool)

Finally - Don't overlook advertising your interests at the NSS convention. There are a number of the cave scientists who do show up there, although a large number do not.

I know that money and time is always limited, but if you can get to the right conference, then it is like going to a custom tailored graduate school fair suiting your interests and needs. Don't be shy about telling people that you are looking for graduate school opportunities. Put it on your name tag "Seeking karst geology MSc project". Don't be shy about "interviewing" the researchers too - ask them questions and talk to as many of their current and previous graduate students as possible to find out what working with them is like. The best scientist can be a horrible supervisor, while your best fit might even be with the person who just got their faculty position and is just starting out. If you know you might be interested in working with somebody, do get a little bit prepared by sending them an email beforehand asking for time for a beer/coffee/etc, ask them for some publications too.

Anyway - time for more tea and more decongestants. I hope the above makes some sense.
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Re: studying speleology

Postby rpaylor » Feb 13, 2008 7:49 pm

Great list Trish! One recent change that I know about: Ralph Ewers is mostly retired from Eastern Kentucky U now - he's still teaching a class here and there, but the option for a karst concentration at EKU is pretty much gone. Too bad, too.. that's where I finally finished my masters, and it was a good program. Dr. Ewers always made it entertaining!

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