The next few weeks will feature blog posts written by our students who spent their Spring Break doing research on the islands of Curacao and St. Lucia.
Hey, my name is Trey! I’m a computer science major who was given the opportunity to travel with
Clemson Geopaths to Curacao and take some 360 imagery for research on virtual reality in education,
specifically for geology students.
The first big stop for my project was the Hato Caves. We had the unique chance to take some pictures
inside of the cave, which turned out amazing on the 360 camera! I found myself getting really frustrated
trying to take pictures with my regular camera, since it was so dark inside.
Our tour guide told us the history of the cave as a hiding spot for slaves, and he also knew a surprising
amount about the geology of the caves. Apparently, they are part of the middle limestone terrace of
Curacao, which formed roughly 300,000 years ago. Erosion caused the formation of features like
flowstones, while stalactites and stalagmites were formed by calcium in dripping water. These
stalactites and stalagmites sometimes come together to form a limestone column. One of these
limestone columns had formed recently, and was available to see in the caves!
Deeper into the caves we saw lots of bats, a room with a natural window, and more flowstones creating
beautiful sculptures. However, none of these sculptures compared to what we saw towards the end of
our tour: the fantasy room. This room was decked out with naturally formed stone structures that
resembled things like a pirate, a laughing donkey, and a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Even as someone who isn’t a geologist, it was breathtaking seeing so many beautiful structures all
naturally formed in one place. Because I had people to show me how the Hato Caves connected to the
formation of the rest of the island, I got an entirely different layer of depth that made this experience
particularly awe-inspiring. I couldn’t get enough time to take pictures of everything there!
At the end of the day, the Hato Caves gave me some awesome content to work with, and a beautiful
setting to be able to share through VR.
Thank you to the Hato Cave staff for making this tour possible!