Caving is a highbrow sport. It takes intellectual prowess in the disciplines of geology and hydrology to know how a cave forms, and thus how to identify where hidden passages lie, said Hazel Barton, a microbiologist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado.
Barton should know. She started caving as a teenager and has become one of the world’s foremost cave cartographers. Today, she employs her uncanny ability to seek out caves as part of her work in studying extremophiles–organisms that thrive in environments where human life could not.