Research


CaveWorks is an Eco Interpretive Centre designed to help you learn about the formation and history of caves within the region, throughout Australia and around the world!

In addition to the various educational displays, CaveWorks also provides an interpretive model cave. The centre offers universal access, so all visitors can experience the realistic cave model and observe replicas of the delicate formations found in the caves on the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge. Children will love the "cave crawl" a life-like cave tunnel that enables them to safely experience tight spaces like the cave 'squeezes' found in wild caves.

The Caveworks centre is also home to an operational laboratory which is used for speleological (cave) research. Highly regarded academics and researchers regularly use these facilities and can, on occasion, be viewed at work.

Hydrology

Hydrology relates to the study of the properties, distribution, and effects of water on the earth's surface, in the soil and underlying rocks and in the atmosphere.

Water plays an important role in the formation and development of caves. The Margaret River region's caves are formed through the action of water dissolving through young (soft and porous) limestone.

Changes in land use and rainfall have the potential to affect the characteristics of caves. Mammoth Cave has a seasonal stream dependant on winter rains and Jewel Cave unfortunately lost its underground lake 30 years ago. The iconic Lake Cave is fed by an underground spring which is in decline. In 2010 the Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association was successful in obtaining a $150,000 Natural Resource Management grant to support the Lake Cave Eco-Hydrology Recovery Project. The project aims to:

1) sustain the current water levels in Lake Cave by recharge supplementation;
2) assess the condition of the stygofauna community; and
3) gain an understanding of the Lake Cave catchment system.

The AMRTA is committed to implementing sustainable tourism practices to balance the impact on the environment while meeting present and future needs. To ensure protection of the caves, it is important to protect the entire water catchment.

For more information on priorities endorsed by the WA Natural Resource Management Office please visit the website.

Palaeontology

Famous palaeontologist Dr Gavin Prideaux regularly visits Caveworks and the surrounding caves to continue his ongoing research on megafauna (giant prehistoric animals).

Continuing this work in a secret cave in the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge, Mr Prideaux seeks to solve the mystery of exactly when and why megafauna became extinct around 40,000 to 50,000 years ago.

Dr Prideaux has excavated through different sediment layers in the cave and discovered bones ranging from 30,000 to 150,000 years old! Mammoth Cave in particular is one of the most significant palaeontological sites in Western Australia and forms a key part of the Education Program.

Download Palaeontology of Mammoth Cave as researched by Lindsay Hatcher (pdf) here.

Biology
Biology is the science of life and of living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution and distribution. Biology is an interesting area of study in caves as it focuses on a wide range of life including mammals, amphibians, insects, crustaceans and other microscopic organisms.

The Lake, Mammoth and Jewel Cave water systems contain unique communities of species called stygofauna (mostly crustaceans) which are threatened by the declining water levels. Studies are continuing on the distributions and ecological requirements of these communities to try and protect them.