Before people started to build their own shelters, they lived in caves. Caves provided protection from animals and bad weather in winter, but also from other, hostile tribes. Caves are natural cavities in the Earth’s crust, which are most commonly formed on the rocky sides of the hills and cliffs. The science that studies caves is called Speleology.
Caves can also be defined as long and often branched underground, horizontal or slightly inclined channels that extend deep into the interior of the limestone masses. There are also examples of caves with steep channels. They were created in different ways. Some of them were created due to the constant impact of sea waves on the wall. Others emerged beneath the surface of the earth as old underground river basins, which had extruded the wall of the rock. There are also those caused by volcanic rocking or lava eruption.
Types of caves
The most common types of caves are those found in places where there are large limestone deposits. Under the influence of carbon dioxide-containing water, as well as other factors of nature, cavities that are formed will increase over time. Each drop of water falling from the ceiling of the cave contains little lime or some other mineral. Part of that water evaporates, but some of the mineral matter remains. In this way, cave decorations are created that hang from the ceiling – stalactites. From the stalactite drops water to the floor, so that the columns are formed, ie, stalagmites.
Caves consisting of one channel are called free, while those with multiple channels have a cavity spanning. The cave system consists of several channels at different levels of a cave. The main parts of the cave are the entrance, the channel (elongated cave hollow) and the cave hall. A spatial cavity is most often caused by the expansion of the cave channels. Some caves have a hole at the top. They opened up where the surface water was collected, and then pierced the path through the rock. Caves that do not have a surface connection are called caverns.
They can be dry, but often a river or stream flows through them. It happens that after the formation of the cave, the stream that flows through it find another stream so they move on as one. River caves are, in morphological and hydrographic terms, the most important forms in the interior of limestone masses. Through them, complicated systems of underground canals, run real “Cave Rivers”. In a large number of cases, these rivers are scattered like surface underground streams. Cave rivers can flow freely gravitational – under the action of Earth’s gravity, or ascendant – under the influence of hydrostatic pressure.
The largest underwater stalactite in the world is 12.8 meters long and is located in the cavity system called “Chac Mol System” in Mexico. It is known as “Tunich Ha”, and it was created by penetrating salty water from the nearby Caribbean Sea and mixing the sea with fresh water. The longest individual stalactite in the world is 28 meters long and is located in the cave Gruta do Zanella in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The tallest stalagmite in the world is a tremendous 70 meters high. It is located in the Zi Jin cave in the Chinese province of Zhejiang.
The deepest and biggest
Krubera cave with a depth of 2,197 meters is the most famous and deepest cave on the planet Earth. It is located below the Arabian massif in the Georgian mountainous region of the Western Caucasus. The biggest cave room is Sarawak Room at Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak is around 300, long 700 and high at least 70 meters. The cave was discovered in 1980 by the British-Malaysian Mulu expedition.
The entrance to Grant’s Cave in the US State of Alabama is 38 feet wide and 7.6 meters high and it is the biggest entrance in the world. It’s so great that a blue whale might come in through it, without touching the walls! The cathedral caves, about 1,220 meters long, were initially called the Caves of the Bat, but in 1955 they were converted into a tourist attraction.
The deepest dive in the freshwater cave with diving equipment
Nuno Gomez of the Republic of South Africa dived to a depth of 282.6 meters in the Bushman’s Hole cave in the South African province of Neptune Cape on August 23, 1996. This cave is basically shaped like a very deep underwater cave, and on the surface, it resembles a small lake of upright walls. Verna van Sheikh from the South African Republic dived to a depth of 221 meters in the same cave on October 25, 2004, and thus became the woman who performed the deepest dive in the freshwater cave with diving equipment. The dive lasted for 5 hours and 34 minutes, from which the descent into depth lasted only 12 minutes.
Live broadcast from the greatest depth was broadcast by the Canadian CBC radio crew, at a depth of 2,340 meters in the Creighton mine in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada on May 24, 2005.
TheHang Son Doong cave, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, was discovered quite by accident in the year of 1991. by a resident of the area, Ho Khanh. While hunting in the jungle, Khanh came across the hole in the mountain. He felt the wind and heard the sound of the river, but after he left, he could no longer find the passage because it was completely covered in leaves. Although it was discovered in 1991, scientists only dared in 2009 to enter this cave, and it wasn’t open for public until the year 2012.
When we say that this cave is the largest in the world, we really do not exaggerate. Although not fully explored, the overall dimensions of this cave are incredible. It is 8 kilometers long, 150 meters wide and 198 meters high. To get to this cave you need about a day’s walk through the jungle. Not to speak of physically demanding obstacles in the cave itself. So you will for sure need about 3,000 euros to hire a local guide. In 2016, only 500 licenses were issued. To get to the cave, you must first descend through a huge rock called the “Great Wall of Wit”. When you descend, the scene is scary, but the bottom view is impressive. In the cave, there is a real jungle whose herb species are still waiting to be explored.
In 2019, another part of the cave was discovered and it became even bigger
After scientists from the British Cave Research Association, BCRA studied and measured a newly discovered cave, they declared it the largest in the world – so large that it could fit 40 skyscrapers in the city of New York. The cave also had its microclimate and various landscapes. For example, it contained two impressive jungles. So far, only about 30 percent of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park has been explored, so many more discoveries are waiting for us.
In April 2019, three British divers scampered to explore the underwater caves of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam. During the dive, they discovered a new underwater tunnel linking Son Doong (Cave of a mountain river) with another huge cave named Hang Thung. This could be compared with the fact that someone discovered an additional top on Everest, which would make the mountain even higher by 1000 meters. That is how impressive this discovery is.
Hang son Dong is also a cave with the largest collection of cave beads composed of calcium carbonate. The cave also has its own “beach” camp so you can sleep in it too. The cave pool is impressive too because due to reflection it creates an optical illusion.