A cave is a natural underground void large enough for a human to enter. Some people suggest that the term 'cave' should only apply to cavities that have some part that does not receive daylight; however, in popular usage, the term includes smaller spaces like sea caves, rock shelters, and grottos. A rock shelter is a shallow cave-like opening at the base of a bluff or Cliff. A grotto (Italian grotta) is any type of natural or artificial Cave that is associated with modern historic or prehistoric use by humans
Speleology is the science of exploration and study of all aspects of caves. Speleology is the scientific study of Caves and other Karst features their make-up structure physical properties history life forms and the processes by Exploring a cave for recreation or science may be called "caving", "potholing", or occasionally (only in Canada and the United States), "spelunking". Caving or spelunking is the recreational Sport of exploring Caves In contrast Speleology is the scientific study of caves and the cave Caving or spelunking is the recreational Sport of exploring Caves In contrast Speleology is the scientific study of caves and the cave Country to "Dominion of Canada" or "Canadian Federation" or anything else please read the Talk Page The United States of America —commonly referred to as the Caving or spelunking is the recreational Sport of exploring Caves In contrast Speleology is the scientific study of caves and the cave
Caves are formed by geologic processes. Geology (from Greek γη gê, "earth" and λόγος Logos, "speech" lit These may involve a combination of chemical processes, erosion from water, tectonic forces, microorganisms, pressure, and atmospheric influences. Most caves are formed in limestone by dissolution. Limestone is a Sedimentary rock composed largely of the Mineral Calcite ( Calcium carbonate: CaCO3 Solvation, commonly called dissolution, is the process of attraction and association of Molecules of a Solvent with molecules or Ions of a
Caves are found throughout the world, but only a portion of them have been explored and documented by cavers. Caving or spelunking is the recreational Sport of exploring Caves In contrast Speleology is the scientific study of caves and the cave The distribution of documented cave systems is widely skewed toward countries where caving has been popular for many years (such as France, Italy, Australia, the UK, the United States, etc. Caving or spelunking is the recreational Sport of exploring Caves In contrast Speleology is the scientific study of caves and the cave This article is about the country For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic France topics. Italy (Italia officially the Italian Republic, (Repubblica Italiana is located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe, and on the two largest For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Australia topics. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain,is a Sovereign state located The United States of America —commonly referred to as the ). As a result, explored caves are found widely in Europe, Asia, North America, and Oceania but are sparse in South America, Africa, and Antarctica. South America is a Continent of the Americas, situated entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a This is a great generalization, as large expanses of North America and Asia contain no documented caves, whereas areas such as the Madagascar dry deciduous forests and parts of Brazil contain many documented caves. The Madagascar dry deciduous forests represent a tropical dry forest Ecoregion generally situated in the western part of Madagascar. |utc_offset = -2 to -4 |time_zone_DST = BRST |utc_offset_DST = -2 to -5 |cctld As the world’s expanses of soluble bedrock are researched by cavers, the distribution of documented caves is likely to shift. For example, China, despite containing around half the world's exposed limestone - more than 1,000,000 square kilometers (390,000 sq mi) - has relatively few documented caves. China ( Wade-Giles ( Mandarin) Chung¹kuo² is a cultural region, an ancient Civilization, and depending on perspective a National Limestone is a Sedimentary rock composed largely of the Mineral Calcite ( Calcium carbonate: CaCO3
The cave system with the greatest total length of passage is Mammoth Cave (Kentucky, USA) at 591 kilometers (367 mi) in length. Mammoth Cave National Park is a US National Park in central Kentucky, encompassing portions of Mammoth Cave the longest Cave system known in the The Commonwealth of Kentucky ( is a state located in the East Central United States of America. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the This record is unlikely to be surpassed in the near future, as the next most extensive known cave is Jewel Cave near Custer, South Dakota, at 225 kilometers (140 mi). Jewel Cave National Monument contains Jewel Cave, currently the second longest Cave in the world with about 141 miles (225 km of mapped passageways Custer is a city in Custer County, South Dakota, United States. 
The deepest known cave (measured from its highest entrance to its lowest point) is Voronya Cave (Abkhazia, Georgia), with a depth of 2,191 meters (7,190 ft). The Voronya Cave aka Krubera-Voronia Cave, Cave of Kruber, etc Abkhazia (Аҧсны Apsny აფხაზეთი Apkhazeti or Abkhazeti Абха́зия Abhazia) is a De facto Georgia ( საქართველო, Sakartvelo) is a Transcontinental country in the Caucasus region situated at the dividing line between  This was the first cave to be explored to a depth of more than 2 kilometers (1. 2 mi). (The first cave to be descended below 1 kilometer (0. 62 mi) was the famous Gouffre Berger in France). The Gouffre Berger was discovered on May 24, 1953 by, Bouvet Ruiz de Arcaute and Marc Jouffray This article is about the country For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic France topics. The Illyuzia-Mezhonnogo-Snezhnaya cave in Abkhazia, Georgia, (1,753 meters (5,750 ft)) and the Lamprechtsofen Vogelschacht Weg Schacht in Austria (1,632 meters (5,350 ft)) are the current second- and third-deepest caves. Abkhazia (Аҧсны Apsny აფხაზეთი Apkhazeti or Abkhazeti Абха́зия Abhazia) is a De facto Georgia ( საქართველო, Sakartvelo) is a Transcontinental country in the Caucasus region situated at the dividing line between Austria (Österreich ( officially the Republic of Austria (Republik Österreich This particular record has changed several times in recent years.
The deepest individual pitch (vertical drop) within a cave is 603 meters (1,980 ft) in Vrtoglavica Cave in Slovenia, followed by Patkov Gušt at 553 meters (1,810 ft) in the Velebit mountain, Croatia. For other uses see Pitch Climbing In Rock climbing and Ice climbing, a pitch is a steep section of a route Vrtoglavica Cave is a cave located in Slovenia. The cave holds the record for having the deepest single vertical drop ( pitch) of any cave on Earth at a Slovenia, officially the Republic of Slovenia (Republika Slovenija) is a Country in southern Central Europe bordering Italy to the west The Velebit mountain of Croatia is believed to have several Caves with some of the world's greatest subterranean vertical drops For other meanings see Velebit (disambiguation Velebit is the largest though not the highest Mountain range in Croatia. Croatia (Hrvatska ˈxȓvatska officially the Republic of Croatia ( Republika Hrvatska) is a southern Central European country at the crossroads between
The largest individual cavern ever discovered is the Sarawak chamber, in the Gunung Mulu National Park (Miri, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia), a sloping, boulder strewn chamber with an area of approximately 600 meters (2,000 ft) by 400 meters (1,300 ft) and a height of 80 meters (260 ft). The Sarawak Chamber is a huge chamber in Gua Nasib Bagus (Good Luck Cave which is located in Gunung Mulu National Park, in the Malaysian state of Sarawak Gunung Mulu National Park near Miri, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses incredible Caves Miri is a city in northern Sarawak, Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the Island of Borneo. Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located at the centre of Maritime Southeast Asia. For the biogeographical region see Malesia Malaysia (məˈleɪʒə or /məˈleɪziə/ is a country that consists of thirteen states and
Cave-inhabiting animals are often categorized as troglobites (cave-limited species), troglophiles (species that can live their entire lives in caves, but also occur in other environments), trogloxenes (species that use caves, but cannot complete their life cycle wholly in caves) and accidentals (animals not in one of the previous categories). A troglobite is an Animal that lives entirely in the dark parts of Caves Such creatures have become specifically adapted for life in total darkness and over time A Trogloxene is a species which uses caves but cannot complete their life cycle wholly in caves Some authors use separate terminology for aquatic forms (e. g. , stygobites, stygophiles, and stygoxenes). A troglobite is an Animal that lives entirely in the dark parts of Caves Such creatures have become specifically adapted for life in total darkness and over time
Of these animals, the troglobites are perhaps the most unusual organisms. Troglobitic species often show a number of characteristics, termed troglomorphies, associated with their adaptation to subterranean life. These characteristics may include a loss of pigment (often resulting in a pale or white coloration), a loss of eyes (or at least of optical functionality), an elongation of appendages, and an enhancement of other senses (such as the ability to sense vibrations in water). Aquatic troglobites (or stygobites), such as the endangered Alabama cave shrimp, live in bodies of water found in caves and get nutrients from detritus washed into their caves and from the feces of bats and other cave inhabitants. The Alabama cave shrimp ( Palaemonias alabamae) is Species of albinistic, obligate cave Shrimp. Other aquatic troglobites include cave fish, the Olm, and cave salamanders such as the Texas Blind Salamander. The olm, or proteus ( Proteus anguinus) is a blind Amphibian endemic to the subterranean waters of caves of the Dinaric The Texas Blind Salamander, Eurycea rathbuni, is a rare Cave -dwelling Troglobite Amphibian native to San Marcos, Hays County
Cave insects such as Oligaphorura (formerly Archaphorura) schoetti are troglophiles, reaching 1. Caves are perhaps the most distinct and well-defined of Insect Habitats. 7 millimeters (0. 067 in) in length. They have extensive distribution and have been studied fairly widely. Most specimens are female but a male specimen was collected from St Cuthberts Swallet in 1969. St Cuthbert's Swallet ( is a cave which forms a major part of the Priddy Caves system in the Limestone of the Mendip Hills, in Somerset,
Bats, such as the Gray bat and Mexican Free-tailed Bat, are trogloxenes and are often found in caves; they forage outside of the caves. The Gray Bat ( Myotis grisescens) is a small Bat that lives in Caves throughout the southern United States. The Mexican Free-tailed Bat ( Tadarida brasiliensis) is a medium sized Bat. Some species of cave crickets are classified as trogloxenes, because they roost in caves by day and forage above ground at night. The Orthopteran family Rhaphidophoridae includes the cave wetas, cave crickets, camel crickets and sand treaders, of the
Because of the fragile nature of the cave ecosystem, and the fact that cave regions tend to be isolated from one another, caves harbor a number of endangered species, such as the Tooth cave spider, Liphistiidae Liphistius trapdoor spider, and the Gray bat. An endangered species is a population of an organism which is at risk of becoming Extinct because it is either few in numbers or threatened by changing environmental or predation The tooth cave spider ( Neoleptoneta myopica) is a 1/16 inch (1 The spider family Liphistiidae comprises 5 genera and 85 Species from Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. The Gray Bat ( Myotis grisescens) is a small Bat that lives in Caves throughout the southern United States.
Caves are visited by many surface-living animals, including humans. These are usually relatively short-lived incursions, due to the lack of light and sustenance. Light, or visible light, is Electromagnetic radiation of a Wavelength that is visible to the Human eye (about 400–700
Throughout history, primitive peoples have made use of caves for shelter, burial, or as religious sites. The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. Petroglyphs are Images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising pecking carving and abrading Since items placed in caves are protected from the climate and scavenging animals, this means caves are an archaeological treasure house for learning about these people. Cave paintings are of particular interest. Cave paintings are Paintings on Cave walls and ceilings and the term is used especially for those dating to Prehistoric times One example is the Great Cave of Niah, in Malaysia, which contains evidence of human habitation dating back 40,000 years. Niah Caves is located within the district of Miri in Sarawak, Malaysia. 
In Germany some experts found signs of cannibalism in the caves at the Hönne. Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany ( ˈbʊndəsʁepuˌbliːk ˈdɔʏtʃlant is a Country in Central Europe. Cannibalism (from Spanish es ''caníbal'' in connection with cannibalism among the Antillean Caribs, also called anthropophagy (from Greek ἄνθρωπος The Hönne is a left tributary river to the Ruhr, flowing through the northern Sauerland hills in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
Caves are also important for geological research because they can reveal details of past climatic conditions in speleothems and sedimentary rock layers. Sedimentary rock is one of the three main rock types (the others being igneous and Metamorphic rock)
Caves are frequently used today as sites for recreation. Caving, for example, is the popular sport of cave exploration. Caving or spelunking is the recreational Sport of exploring Caves In contrast Speleology is the scientific study of caves and the cave Sport is an Activity that is governed by a set of rules or Customs and often engaged in competitively For the less adventurous, a number of the world's prettier and more accessible caves have been converted into show caves, where artificial lighting, floors, and other aids allow the casual visitor to experience the cave with minimal inconvenience. Show caves, also called tourist caves, public caves, and in the U Caves have also been used for BASE jumping and cave diving. BASE jumping is involving the use of a Parachute or the sequenced use of a Wingsuit and parachute to jump from fixed objects--with the parachute unopened at the jump Cave diving is a type of Technical diving in which specialized SCUBA equipment is used to enable the exploration of natural or artificial Caves which are
Caves are also used for the preservation or aging of wine and cheese. The constant, slightly chilly temperature and high humidity that most caves possess makes them ideal for such uses.