Protecting Fantastic Caverns from TCE

Protecting Fantastic Caverns from TCE

Posted on Saturday, November 10, 2018, by Hubert Heck

How Fantastic Caverns is preserving and protecting it's natural cave attraction from man-made chemicals, so the cave system can be enjoyed by people for generations to come.

Caves are fragile ecosystems, and no one knows this better than us. All kinds of natural phenomenon can occur to change a cave system that we have little control over. But man-made problems, however, we can control, and react responsibly to, so we can protect, and preserve Fantastic Caverns for generations to come through our dedicated cave conservation efforts.

Dealing with Trichloroethylene

Trichloroethylene (TCE) - which is commonly used as an industrial solvent, has been migrating outward from a former circuit board manufacturing facility adjacent to the Springfield-Branson National Airport. TCE is an effective degreaser that can evaporate quickly. The chemical can move underground as either a fluid or as a vapor. Contaminated air and water can move long distances underground in karst regions like the Ozarks. Tom Aley of Ozark Underground Laboratory noted: “for decades TCE has been migrating outward from the former manufacturing plant located near the airport.”

Trichloroethylene and Fantastic Caverns

In Late 2016, Fantastic Caverns, Ozark Underground Laboratory (OUL) and Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) began a 12-month study to monitor TCE vapors at the cave. Fantastic Caverns is over 3 miles away from the former plant, and TCE levels have been low, just barely detectable most of the year. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS) stipulate that there are no safety concerns for visitors to Fantastic Caverns.

Trichloroethylene vapors move seasonally, upstream in the winter and downstream in the summer. Ozark Underground Laboratory has designed a warm-weather ventilation plan to ensure the vapors in Fantastic Caverns are controlled. Ventilating the cave controls the TCE; however, long-term ventilation could extensively harm the cave. Most recently, OUL scientists have surveyed and designed a series of ventilation shafts west of the caverns to ventilate the TCE vapors before they would be able to enter any portion of the cave.

Cave Conservation

Fantastic Caverns will continue conservation efforts to ensure cave life, the cave ecosystem and groundwater are protected and properly managed. Monitoring of the air and water quality in the cave will continue, and will help protect our unique cave inhabitants. Cave conservation at Fantastic Caverns is vital, and a top priority for this small family business

Latest Blog Posts

The latest about our Missouri cave, and other Fantastic Caverns news.

Ozarks Cave Explorer's Club
Travel and tourism are inextricably part of the fabric of the Ozarks’ culture and economy. And caves have been a part of the tourism industry in the Ozarks for a very long time. Find a list of caves in Missouri and Arkansas participating in the Missouri Caves Association’s Ozarks Cave Explorer Passport Program.
Discovered by a Dog
Fantastic Caverns is pet friendly. Fantastic Caverns was discovered by an Ozarks farmer, or more precisely, by his dog. While tracking an animal, the famer's bloodhound disappeared into a small hole at the base of a bluff.
Build Your Own Terrarium and Monitor Water Quality
Stormwater run-off can easily pick up pollutants and cause erosion. Plants and trees help filter stormwater run-off and prevent erosion. The water flowing through the lower levels of Fantastic Caverns, began as stormwater on the surface. Create your own terrariums and monitor water quality.
Create Your Own Cave Confections
Create your own cave treats following these simple recipes. Caves provide habitats for unique species. Make your own edible cave habitats in the form of hollow meringue cookies or dessert rolls.
Cave and Karst Picture Finds
Find cave animals in these photos. The karst terrain of the Ozarks provides habitat for unique life. There is a very delicate ecosystem beneath our feet.
Create Your Own Aquifer in a Cup
Create your own miniature aquifer in a cup. The limestone present in the Ozarks has cracks and voids that allow water to permeate and pass through it. Water flowing through the limestone passages of Fantastic Caverns, began as rainwater.
Create Your Own Crystals
You can easily grow your own crystals using sugar, salt or alum. Many crystals are minerals, and occur naturally. Minerals are the building blocks of rocks, like the limestone of Fantastic Caverns.
Cave and Karst Word Searches
Find words related to caves and cave life in these fun Cave and Karst Word Searches. Missouri is known as the Cave State, boasting more than 7,500 caves and counting.
Make Your Own Limestone Fossil Sugar Cookies
You can find fossilized remains of ancient creatures within the limestone of Fantastic Caverns. Create your own limestone-inspired fossils in the form of sugar cookies.
Create Your Own Cave in a Cup
Create your own cave. As water flows beneath the Earth's surface it dissolves and erodes the rock, forming the cavities that become caves.
Health and Safety at Fantastic Caverns
The health and safety of our guests are top of mind as we continue to offer our memorable ride through cave experiences. We have increased the frequency of our everyday health and safety protocols and procedures, and we are taking precautions to keep everyone safe and healthy.
The underground fleet
Climb aboard the underground fleet at Fantastic Caverns and explore the world beneath your feet. Touring Fantastic Caverns by Jeep drawn trams helps preserve the cave. America's Ride Thru Cave may not be inhabited by humans but the cave system does have a thriving ecology of small critters that call it home.
Phone: 417-833-2010
Fax: (417) 833-2042
Fantastic Caverns
4872 N Farm Rd 125
Springfield, MO 65803
Trip Adviser certificate of excellence for Fantastic Caverns