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What is a Cave

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What is a Cave essay
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What is a cave? A cave is an underground hollow place large enough for a human to enter. The formation and development of caves are known as speleogenesis, which can occur over the course of millions of years. Caves are formed by various geologic processes and can vary sizes. These may involve a combination of chemical processes, erosion from water, tectonic forces, microorganisms, pressure, and atmospheric influences. Isotopic dating techniques can be applied to cave sediments, in order to determine the timescale when geologic events may have occurred to help form and shape present-day caves.

How, exactly are caves formed? Caves are formed by the dissolution of limestone. Rainwater picks up carbon dioxide from the air and as it percolates through the soil, which turns into a weak acid. This slowly dissolves out the limestone along the joints, bedding planes and fractures, some of which become enlarged enough to form caves.

In cases, there are objects called stalactites and stalagmites. Stalactites are attached to the ceiling and stalagmite are on the floor. A stalactite is a tapering structure hanging like an icicle from the roof of a cave, formed of calcium salts deposited by dripping water. A stalagmite is a mound or tapering column rising from the floor of a cave, formed of calcium salts deposited by dripping water and often uniting with a stalactite.

The estimated maximum depth of a cave cannot be more than 3,000 meters or 9,800 ft due to the pressure of overlying rocks. For karst caves the maximum depth is determined on the basis of the lower limit of karst forming processes, coinciding with the base of the soluble carbonate rocks. Most caves are formed in limestone by dissolution.

Caves are classified in various other ways as well, including active vs. relict. Active caves will have water flowing through them while relict caves do not, although water may be retained in them. Types of active caves include inflow caves, outflow caves, and through caves.

While caves are found throughout the world only a small portion of them have been explored. Documented cave systems have been skewed toward countries were caving has been popular such as France Italy Australia the UK and the United States. As the worlds expanses of soluble bedrock have researched the distribution of documented caves is likely to shift. For example, China contains around half the worlds exposed limestone but has very few documented caves.

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