Discovery of a significant cave entrance in stripe karst, Horsethief Creek Group, Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada


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Publication Date

February 2020


In April 2018, a significant cave entrance was recognized during an aerial survey in Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia. A September 2018 assessment of the site confirmed one of the largest known, and previously undocumented, cave entrances in Canada. The feature is a large vertically walled sink swallowing a small river, likely leading to a spring 2.16 km horizontally from, and 460 m below, the sink. The entrance shaft was partially descended, surveyed, and found to have a volume of over 450 000 m3. Formed in a carbonate unit of the upper Proterozoic Horsethief Creek Group, the cave entrance occurs in stripe karst extending well beyond the known cave drainage. The disappearing river drains an area of 6.3 km2 in a valley containing two small glaciers. The river has a low flow (September) rate estimated at 0.3–0.5 m3/s, comparable with some of the largest sinks in Canada. Historic aerial photographs of the area show the entrance was hidden by perennial snowfields until regional climatic warming caused the snow plug to collapse sometime within the past decade.


Stripe Karst, Cave, Marble, Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, Horsethief Creek Group

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Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, Vol. 57, no. 5 (2020-02-20).