|MadSci Network: Earth Sciences|
The list of the four types of caves varies depending on who is making the list. It always includes limestone (solution) caves, sea caves, and lava tubes. The last category is sometimes ice caves, glacial caves, sandstone caves, or erosional caves. Basically, the last category is for all the other caves that don't fit into one of the first three categories. In any event, speleothems (all the cool formations including stalagtites and stalagmites) can form any time there is (or was in the past)water and a limestone source. Solution caves are formed in limestone, so they almost always have cave formations, but if there were a limestone source and a source of water, then formations could also appear in erosional/sandstone caves, sea caves, or lava tubes as well. Once the water dissolves some of the limestone by flowing through it, that limestone can deposit anywhere - including in any kind of cave. The odds of this happening depend on the nearness of a limestone sources and the amount of water leaking through the rocks in that particular cave, the shape of the cave, the humidity, and a lot of other factors. Very often you can actually see small stalagtites hanging down under concrete bridges where water leaking through the concrete does exactly the same kind of dissolving and depositing. A couple good web sites with more information are givn below. http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/t/a/tag156/cavelesson.htm http://cavingintro.net/science.html http://www.goodearthgraphics.com/virtcave/index.html
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