MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: What's source of the energy in nitrates and nitrites mined from caves?

Date: Mon Apr 13 13:46:35 1998
Posted By: Robert Chesson, Other (pls. specify below), Working Geologist (Certified Profssional Geologist), FEC
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 887679102.Ch

Question:  What’s the source of the energy in nitrates and nitrites mined 
from caves?

I am surprised that no one at Mammoth Cave N.P. could answer your question. 
 The source for the nitrate bearing compounds mined at Mammoth Cave was 
bats.  The material used to make gunpowder was bat guano (bat excrement).  
The guano is rich in nitrates and can be used to make gunpowder and 
fertilizer.  Not only is bat guano from caves used to make these nitrate 
compounds but large accumulations of seabird guano are/have also been 
exploited from isolated islands.  

There is a host of information located on the internet concerning bats, 
caves, and the use of gauno as a fertilizer.

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