Formations in Our Caverns
Stalactites form when mineral-laden water drips from the cave ceiling. Each drop leaves minerals behind and adds to the length of the hollow capillary tube which will convert into a stalactite once the end of the tube closes off.
Stalagmites are formed on cave floors by the minerals left from dripping water from the ceiling - usually from stalactites above.
Columns occur when a stalactite and stalagmite grow into each other.
Draperies are sometimes called curtains. They form when the mineraled water slides along cracks and crevices in the cave ceiling and walls.
Flowstone is a product of flowing water rather than drops. Calcite becomes deposited in thin layers which mold to the shape of whatever surface it clings to, but eventually thickens and takes on a rounded appearance.
Helictites are a class of stalactite. They can grow in any number of different directions, depending on air flow in the cave and varied arrangements of the calcite crystals.
Calcite is the mineral of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and is the main ingredient in limestone.
Capillary Tubes are cave formations that resemble straws coming down from the ceiling, and will eventually become stalactites.
Caves are natural cavities underground that typically have an opening to the surface.
Chemical Weathering is the process by which chemicals erode away layers of rock.
Columns are formed when a stalactite and its stalagmite grow until they meet and are joined together.
Curtains are drapes of calcite that form when mineral-rich water slides down the cave ceiling or wall.
Erosion is caused by wind, water, glaciers, etc. and is what causes both subtle and drastic changes to rock or landscape.
A fault is an opening or separation in rock.
Flowstone is a layer of calcite that is deposited on a surface by flowing water.
Helictites are twisted or bent stalactites that are shaped by air currents or varied arrangements of calcite crystals.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock that is easily dissolved by acidic water. Most of the world's caves are carved into limestone.
Caves make great homes for lots of different types of wildlife. There are three general categories of animals that inhabit caves:
Cave Dwellers (troglobites) live their entire lives inside caves. These include blind cave fish or crawfish.
Cave Guests (troglogenes) are animals who spend most of their time on the surface but use caves for shelter or for hibernation. These include bears and bats.
Cave Lovers (troglophiles) spend most of their time inside caves and are typically found near partially-lit cave entrances. These include salamanders and cave crickets.