American Grotto

Geology


Speleological Preservation and Exploration

Dedicated to the service and protection of God’s Earth through conservation, knowledge, and adventure.

 

Caves

            Caves are located in almost every state with the exception of a few. They are typically found in regions with a similar geographic feature called krasts. Krasts are landscape that is dominated by caves, fissures, and underground streams. These regions are formed because they're made up primarily of limestone. About 25 percent of the land in the United States is made of krasts.

            Caves are formed in several different ways. Most typically they are formed from carbonic acid in ground water dissolving the surrounding limestone until a cavity is formed. These are the longest caves, often stretching for miles. The longest one is well over 300 miles long.

            Other caves are formed by erosion from wind; these are often found in sandstone and are not very deep. Indians in the western United States often used these as shelters, as can be seen in the Grand Canyon.

            Caves can also form along the sea from erosion by waves crashing into a cliff face.

            Some caves are formed along fault lines where the earth's surface is separating. These caves are the deepest caves in the world. The deepest of them being a little over a mile deep.

            Caves are also formed in volcanic rock from the tubes molten lava use to flow in.

            Not all caves are formed in rock. Some caves are formed in glaciers. Melting water moving through the ice will slowly form large caverns. Another unique attribute to these caves is they're not always dark. Usually the walls have a blue glow with the brightness depending on the depth.

Types Of Caves

Ice Cave

Lava Cave

Sandstone Cave

Sea Cave

Solution Cave

Tectonic 

Finding Caves

            Finding caves can be a tedious job but it can also be very rewarding. Before going out to look for a cave, there are a few things that will make your trip more productive.

            Talk to the old timers and aborigines. They often know the area where they live very well and can give a few tip-offs on a possible cave location.

            Ask a local park service or conservation department. While not always willing to tell you where every cave is, they do know the location of a good number of caves.

            Look over maps of krastS regions known to have caves in them. Walking up creek beds will often be productive.

            Remember that whenever you are looking for caves, be sure you have permission to be on the land where you are looking, and always tell someone where the cave is that you are going to go into.