Groundwater and Caves


biology, ecology, chemistry, physics, earth science

Below the Earth's surface, water seeps through the pores, voids, and fractures of the rock and soil. Constantly moving, it feeds aquifers and wells, but also carves out cavernous spaces and underground ecosystems. Naturally filtered by the earth, groundwater is usually purer than surface freshwater.

The Projects

Browse the participating projects

Through a glass darkly: assessing population size of an endangered cave salamander from samples of spring and cave water

Estimating and monitoring population sizes of rare and endangered cave animals is a daunting task, mainly...

Exploring the temperature tolerance of a cave beetle

My undergraduate student Sonya Royzenblat and I will track the well being of the cave beetle Ptomaphagus...

Karst Springs Initiative: Measuring Tennessee's Largest Springs

The Karst Springs Initiative is focused on studying Tennessee springs, their magnitude, and what springs...

Warm spring, cold spring, high spring, low spring: where is all the water from?

Spring water in Monroe County, WV is used extensively for both public and private supply but no one is sure...

Surveying the Underwater Caves of Virginia

Virginia is home to several underwater caves. Two of the deepest underwater caves in Virginia have not...

Is climate change depleting an untapped water resource?

Rock glaciers are alpine aquifers that store water for long periods of time. Many cities depend on water...

You can take it with you! Building robust devices for 3D mapping caves.

Traditionally, cave maps are made using very simple instruments that provide distances and angles: measuring...

More About This Challenge

The sciency details

Challenge Amount:
Submission Deadline:
Oct 19, 2016
Campaign Launch:
Nov 02, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions

How do challenge grants work?

Challenge grants are prizes to supplement existing crowdfunding campaigns. We will accept proposals for campaigns related to groundwater or underground ecosystems, and all the campaigns will launch together on November 2nd, 2016. Partway through the campaigns, the project with the highest number of backers will receive an additional $500. There are two runners-up prizes of $200 each.

When will the grant be awarded?

On November 23rd at 5PM PT, the prizes will be awarded according to the posted schedule.

Can I still submit a project?

We are no longer accepting projects for this grant, however we will be launching many more challenge grant opportunities. Sign up for our mailing list for up-to-date community news.

Please Note:

If we see suspicious acitivity of researchers or backers potentially cheating during the challenge, the project will be completely disqualified from winning the grant.

Challenge Aims

We're fascinated by what goes on below ground, and are looking for research projects related to the spaces and substrates created by, or interacting with, underground water. This includes (but isn't limited to) caves and subterranean ecosystems, karst topologies, aquifers, and other areas of hydrogeology.

We welcome submissions from any discipline or field, from geologists, biologists, chemists, hydrologists, caving hobbyists, and underground enthusiasts of all kinds. Interdisciplinary projects are encouraged! If you're unsure, just send us an email at

You can begin your project page and submit it using the button below. Submit by October 19th to join the challenge!

Examples of past projects looking at similar topics:

Diversity of Algae in a Desert Oasis

A Search for the Origins of White-Nose Syndrome

Does fracking contaminate water with hormone disrupting chemicals?

Project Eligilibity

Any project conducting research on groundwater or the spaces it travels through is invited to participate. Please get in touch if you aren't sure about your idea, by emailing us at Interdisciplinary projects are more than welcome! Researchers must be based out of institutions or organizations in the US, UK, Australia, or Canada.

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