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The meaning of the words "karst cave". What it is?

What is the meaning of the words "karst cave"? How did these beautiful natural objects form? You will find answers to these questions in this article. In addition, here we list the longest in the world karst caves (photo of these underground voids you can also see). Curiously, most of them are located in the US.

The cave is ... The meaning of the words "karst cave"

These underground voids since ancient times served as a dwelling for animals, as well as primitive people. They hid them from the cold and wild predators. It is interesting that the caves are found not only on Earth, but also on the Moon, Mars. Let us first clarify the meaning of the words "karst cave".

This phrase consists of two parts: "cave" and "karst".

  • A cave is any underground cavity of natural origin.
  • Karst is both a process and the result of the destruction (dissolution) of certain rocks by aggressive (by chemical composition) groundwater.

The term "karst" itself occurs either from the German word karst, or from the name of the plateau in Slovenia (Kras), where these natural phenomena manifest themselves particularly strongly.

What is a karst cave?

This type of cave is most common among all other underground cavities. What is a karst cave and how is it formed?

There are two main definitions. According to the first, this is a natural cavity (emptiness) in the upper part of the earth's crust, which is connected to its surface by one or several entrances. According to the second definition, the karst cave is an underground cavity of natural origin, which is not illuminated by the Sun, but is accessible for penetration from the outside.

The study of caves is carried out by special science - speleology, the material for which is often extracted by so-called speleotourists.

How are karst caves formed?

Caves of this type are formed due to exogenous processes, namely due to the dissolution of rocks by water. It is worth noting that the karst caves are present only in those areas of the Earth, where there are unstable rocks that are easily dissolved by water. Among them - gypsum, salt, chalk (kaolin), dolomite, marble and limestone.

Worst of all the rest is destroyed limestone and marble. Caves in these rocks are formed very long. On the other hand, they are better than others. For example, gypsum caves are very often destroyed and collapsed.

An important role in the formation of underground voids is played not only by the chemical composition of water (it should have an increased concentration of carbon dioxide), but also the presence of cracks and long faults in the earth's interior. They, as a rule, are those axial lines along which caves are formed.

Most of the caves studied are relict-type systems. This means that the water has already left these underground cavities. Nevertheless, she is the sculptor who forms the internal "microrelief" of the cave. Underground water, saturated with sulfates and carbonates, deposits them on walls, floors and arches of underground cavities. This is exactly what we call stalactites and stalagmites. Very often, these outgrowths acquire strange and bizarre forms, which in the gloom look even more unusual.

The main types of caves

By the mechanism of genesis (formation), in addition to karst, tectonic, volcanic, erosive, and glacial caves are also isolated.

Underground cavities are also classified by their size (by their total length and depth), and also by the type of rocks in which they are formed. So, there are caves:

  • Limestone;
  • Gypsum;
  • Cretaceous;
  • Saline;
  • Caves in conglomerates and so on.

TOP-5 of the longest caves of the planet

Four of the world's five longest caves are located in the US, another one in Ukraine.

Cave Mamontov (about 630 km) - the longest cave system of the Earth. It was formed in limestones 10 million years ago. Every year the length of the cave increases, as speleologists explore its new corridors.

Cave Jewell (257 km) - is located in South Dakota, near the town of Custer. Its unique feature is calcite crystals, which cover the walls of all underground corridors with a thick layer.

Optimistic Cave (231 km) - a multilevel network of labyrinths in Ukraine (in the Ternopil region), the largest underground system in Eurasia. Formed in gypsum.

Cave Wind (217 km) is another American natural wonder, which is known for its patterns on vaults resembling bees.

The Lechugia Cave (207 km) is a plaster cave in the USA (New Mexico State), the business card of which are unusual "luster" formations, reaching up to 5-6 meters in diameter.


Well, now you know the meaning of the words "karst cave". This is a subterranean cavity of natural origin, which has one or several outlets to the surface. All caves are categorized by speleologists in size, genesis mechanism, and also in the rocks in which they are laid (formed).

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