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Fort Stanton Cave, New Mexico: Science Conference
Macey Center, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM
April 7-9, 2022 (held alongside the NMGS Annual Spring Meeting)

Snowy River passage, Ft Stanton Cave
Snowy River in Fort Stanton Cave
Photo by John Ganter with assistance from Kat Rix
Biological speleothem, Ft Stanton Cave
Unusual biological feature in one the newly discovered passages at the far south end of Snowy River.
Photo by Garrett Jorgensen


The primary goal of this conference is to gather together the many individuals who have been working on various scientific and related aspects of Fort Stanton Cave (FSC) to share results, cross-fertilize their work with other investigators, and hopefully to stimulate more interest in scientific projects into the future.

With the discovery of the Snowy River passage in Fort Stanton Cave on September 1, 2001, FSC has emerged as one of the most scientifically significant caves in the west. A major publication has been produced by the Fort Stanton Cave Study Project titled 12 Miles from Daylight: Fort Stanton Cave and the Snowy River Discoverythat provides a wealth of background information about the cave. Ongoing and new scientific research adds valuable knowledge to the many scientific questions surrounding the cave.

The conference will be held alongside the NMGS Annual Spring Meeting, which will focus on the special theme "Karst in New Mexico" in recognition of 2022 being the International Year of Cave and Karst.

Preliminary Ft Stanton Cave Science Conference Topics

While the conference will deal primarily with the Fort Stanton Cave (FSC) complex, we welcome abstracts on applicable cave science such as regional NM geology, speleogenesis, and talks about other cave systems that are similar or their knowledge is applicable to FSC.

Call For Abstracts

All abstracts should be submitted online via the NMGS Spring Meeting page or may be accepted in other formats in special cases (contact the Program Chair for details). Please view the help pagefor formatting guidelines.

Note that abstracts focused on FSC will be presented on April 7th, while other abstracts, including those related to our special theme, will be presented on April 8th during the regular NMGS Spring Meeting. We may request that some presentations may be presented on both days, in more or less detail, if the topic will be of broad interest.

Potential topics and themes

  • Geology and Geophysics: Within this theme, we hope to promote a general understanding of FSC area geology
  • Speleogenesis: How did FSC form? What can we learn from other cave systems?
  • Hydrology: Can the hydrology of the Ruidoso/Ft Stanton area inform us about the source of water in Snowy River and how to protect it from surface contamination?
  • Cave History, Archaeology, and Management: This theme will promote learning from the past to protect the cave for future generations.
  • Exploration and Survey: Within this theme, would like to present on-going exploration of FSC and what wondrous things have been found.
  • Mineralogy and Geochemistry: This theme should reveal the many unusual features and formations of FSC, including its incredible paleoclimate archives.
  • Biology: In addition to mineral formations, FSC provides potential for biological and geomicrobiological studies.
  • Cave Microclimate: We would like to address general cave micrometeorology in this theme to understand the potential for studies in FSC.


The conference structure includes:

Day 1 (April 7th) of scientific presentations by the FSC community investigators (view preliminary program).

Day 2 (April 8th) will be the Annual NMGS Spring Meeting with a special theme of caves and karst in New Mexico.

Day 3 (April 9th) will present a field trip to relevant hydrological, geological, and biological sites in the area surrounding the cave (download Field Guide).

Program Chairs:
Mike Spilde, Chair, UNM,
Johanna Blake, USGS,

General Chair:
Penelope Boston, NASA,

Please contact any of the chairs for more information.


Online registration will be via the NMGS website and will close after April 4th. Unlike prior years at the NMGS Spring Meeting, we will not have on-site registration available, so you must pre-register to attend.

We expect about 80 to 120 conference participants to attend the FSC conference drawn from those who already have been producing scientific, photographic, cartographic, and other types of projects in the cave and extending to experts in various topics who have not previously worked in FSC but who are leaders in their respective subjects. We also hope to attract early career professionals and students to the conference.