by Pete Hicks
The C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa is now listed as an EarthCache site with the Geological Society of America and on Groundspeak’s Geocaching website. Chucalissa joins some of the most unique geological and historic landmarks around the world.
What is an EarthCache? An EarthCache is a special site that people can visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature of our Earth. EarthCache pages include a set of educational notes along with cache coordinates. Visitors to EarthCaches can see how our planet has been shaped by geological processes, how we manage its resources, and how scientists gather evidence to learn about the Earth.
For Chucalissa, the cache focuses on the formation of the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River flood plain. Visitors to the museum and mounds must answer several questions regarding the physical characteristics of the area, and how these characteristics may have played a part in the decision to build the mounds at this location.
What do I need to visit an EarthCache or Geocache site? First you will need to create an account at http://www.geocaching.com. Once you log in, you can then search for caches near you. Second, you will need a Global Positional System Receiver (GPSr or GPS for short). This is a device that reads satellite signals and can calculate your position on Earth as a latitude, longitude and altitude. Some Smartphones are now GPS enabled, and there is a Geocaching App available for most major phones. (Note that cell phone reception at Chucalissa can be “spotty” at times. As in all remote locations, EarthCachers may lose cell phone reception around Chucalissa and should be prepared for alternative means to determine their location to avoid becoming lost in the forest.)
Where regular geocaches involve searching some type of physical container, EarthCaches visitors are asked to observe something interesting about the geology of the area. Usually the information is freely given or observed, but sometimes you have to do a bit of investigative work to answer the given questions. After you find the answers, you can claim the cache by submitting the answers to the EarthCache developer. The final step is to submit your “Found It” log on the Geocaching site. Logging your find allows you to share your experience with others who view the cache page.
To get started with geocaching, visit the Geocaching 101 page where you can find all the necessary information to begin your adventure!
For more information about EarthCaches, you can visit http://www.earthcache.org/
Pete Hicks is a computer technician with the DeSoto County schools in Mississippi.