Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Joshua Sebree, Honors Thesis Advisor


Speleothems--South Dakota--Wind Cave; Fluorescent minerals--South Dakota--Wind Cave;


The wind cave system represents a unique environment on Earth where the direct interplay of organic chemistry on the surface can possibly be traced to extremophiles living hundreds of meters below the surface. In many cases, minerals and organics from the surface become trapped in calcite formations creating fluorescent minerals. To understand the environment giving rise to the fluorescent minerals in Wind Cave, laboratory analogs of the calcite crystals found within the Wind Cave National Park cavern were synthesized and analyzed using SEM and fluorescence spectroscopy. This data was compared to the fluorescence and XRF data collected from speleothems in Wind Cave, and potential activators were identified for each speleothem analyzed. Synthetic crystals were doped with inorganic and organic activators, including organic aerosol activators and extracted tannins. The most common activators were Mn2+ for pink fluorescence, Fe2+ and Mn2+ for purple fluorescence, and organic activators for the lighter colors (white and light blue) of fluorescence found.

Year of Submission



Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (17 pages)



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