September 7, 2023

Preservation Thursday: Black Hills Caves and the Karst Systems of the Black Hills

DEADWOOD – Deadwood History, Inc. and the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission will host a presentation by Karl Emanuel, a geologist with the Black Hills National Forest, at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 14, 2023, at the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC), 150 Sherman Street, Deadwood. The event is free for members and $5 for non-members. Please feel free to bring your lunch. To become a member and take advantage of these and many more opportunities, memberships can be purchased at or by calling 605-722-4800. Every form of support, whether it is an individual membership or a donation, is deeply appreciated.

The Black Hills is host to two of the world’s largest and most complex cave systems, as well as hundreds of less extensive, but equally complex caves and karst systems. The origin and evolution of these systems will be discussed in layman’s terms along with recent advances in cave and karst research and how that work has clarified our understanding of the size and nature of these complex and hydrologically important systems. The importance of these conduits into our regional groundwater supply will also be discussed.

Karl Emanuel has been living in Deadwood and working in the Black Hills since 1985. He helped develop and operate one of the local gold mines as a consultant working for an international firm based in Sydney, Australia. Emanuel was the chief geologist and reserve engineer at the Golden Reward Mine and a senior geologist at the Wharf Mine during the 1980s and 1990s, and later he worked as a consultant again. He worked for the United States Forest Service in 2001 as an instructor in math and science at the Box Elder Job Corp and then transferred to his current position as a geologist in 2012. Since then, he has been working as a hosted employee of the Custer Supervisors Office based out of the Spearfish office. He is a cave, karst, and geohazards specialist and thoroughly loves and enjoys his work.

Emanuel has been working as a geoscientist in various capacities for over 50 years and has been avid about cave exploration and research since the age of 13. He has mapped and studied caves all over the western United States, as well as overseas, and has been actively involved in cave and karst research in the Black Hills for a majority of the last 15 years. Emanuel is currently working on a detailed inventory of karst sinkholes for the Black Hills uplift and the Bighorn Mountains and has been successfully using that information to locate new and undocumented caves. Preservation Thursday is made possible by the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, Deadwood History, Inc., Adams-Mastrovich Family Foundation, Deadwood Chamber & Visitors Bureau, and the Black Hills Pioneer.


Deadwood History, Inc. preserves and presents the history of Deadwood and the Black Hills through exceptional places, interactive exhibits, and engaging events.

Adams Museum, Days of '76 Museum, Historic Adams House, Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC), and The Brothel Deadwood.

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