U.S. Water News Online
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky. -- It normally takes 20 to 30 years for
spills to be cleaned up naturally in a groundwater system, but a
group of student researchers from Tennessee State University hope to
apply a technique that can speed up the process.
Last month, the students visited Mammoth Cave to study karst
topography and ways that contaminant levels in the cave's water
system could be reduced.
The technique invented by the students while working at Fort
Campbell involves using a chemical similar to dry-cleaning solvent,
said environmental engineering professor Tom Byl.
"We did that at Fort Campbell and it worked like a charm in
enhancing fuel degradation," Byl said.
The 20 students who visited Mammoth Cave last month went down deep
to develop an understanding of caves.
"Most had never been in a cave before. That was significant," Byl
Rick Toomey, director of the Mammoth Cave International Center for
Science and Learning, said he was happy to see students' interest in
all aspects of the cave.
"I'm really excited about the potential for projects," he said.
Already, the students plan to measure car emissions run-off from
parking lots and roads around the visitors center in the national
"They put down a purification system for the run-off. But no one
has ever tested to see if it works," Byl said. "Our hope, of course,
is that it does work and clear water is dripping into the caves
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