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The Ice Age-era Riverbluff Cave in southwest Springfield, filled with remains and footprints of ancient animals, is a fragile environment, but thanks to modern fiber optics, cables and cameras, patrons can still view the interior—at the Library Center, 4653 S. Campbell Ave., in Springfield. Students and researchers around the world will also have access. KSMU's Mike Smith has the story:
A demonstration of these videoconferencing capabilities, held at a press conference this week in the Library Center auditorium, made Riverbluff the second cave in the world to be wired for virtual tours.
"This unique cave has generated great interest not only in our region, but nationally and internationally. These interactive sessions can be sent to anyone in the world who has videoconferencing capabilities," explained Annie Busch, executive director of the Springfield-Greene County Library District, who initially had the vision to partner with MOREnet and its Internet network of schools, libraries, colleges and universities.
The cooperative effort also includes Ozarks Technical Community College, Springfield-Greene County Parks Department and Missouri State University.
Greene County Naturalist Matt Forir was one of the first scientists to explore what was to be named Riverbluff Cave after it was discovered by a road construction crew on September 11th 2001. Since then, Forir has determined the cave to be at least 830,000 years old.
Forir expects to be very busy in the coming months delivering lectures over the fiber optic system from the cave to MOREnet users and to schools, libraries, colleges, and universities around the world.
• 1,600 feet of Armored Direct Burial fiber optic cable has been installed.
• The cable consists of 12 strands of Single Mode fiber, terminated on each end using SC connectors.
• A fusion splicer was used to "weld" the pieces of glass together for a more stable and reliable connection.
• HP Procurve switches on each end will provide connectivity for cameras and other devices and connect to the MOREnet circuit.
• The MOREnet circuit is optimized for video traffic, which gives higher priority to video data if congestion is encountered on the circuit.
• Copper cable installed in the Riverbluff Field House will allow additional computers and cameras to connect with the system, providing greater system flexibility.