Featured Geology Heritage Lists

10 incredible caves

Cave of the Crystal - Image Credit:  - Image Credit : Julie Rohloff - CC 2.0

A cave is a hollow place in the ground, specifically a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. Caves form naturally by geothermal activities or the weathering of rock and often extend deep underground.

1 – Sơn Đoòng Cave – Vietnam

Sơn Đoòng Cave was first discovered in 1991 by locals in the Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, but has only become known internationally since 2009 when the cave was explored by the British Cave Research Association.

Sơn Đoòng Cave is believed to be the largest cave passage by volume in the world, measuring 38.4×106 cubic metres and runs for around 9 kilometres through the  soft Carboniferous/Permian limestone.

     
Sơn Đoòng Cave – Image Credit: Nguyen Tan Tin – CC 2.0
Sơn Đoòng Cave – Image Credit: Doug Knuth – CC 2.0

2 – Mammoth Cave – USA

Mammoth Cave is located at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, USA. The cave is part of the Mammoth-Flint Ridge system that developed in thick Mississippian-aged limestone strata over millions of years. Ongoing mapping of the cave system makes Mammoth cave to be believed the longest cave system in the world, with more than 400 miles of passageways and chambers.

Mammoth Cave – Image Credit : NPCA – CC 2.0
Mammoth Cave – Image Credit : NPCA – CC 2.0

3 – Cueva de los Cristales – Cave of the Crystal – Mexico

In 2000, miners digging a new tunnel under the Naica mine in Naica, Mexico discovered a geological marvel that was aptly named the “Cave of the Crystals” or “Giant Crystal Cave”.

Located at a depth of 300 metres, the cave environment can reach air temperatures of up to 58 °C and up to 99% humidity. This has allowed some of the largest giant selenite crystals ever found, measuring up to 2m  in length.

Cave of the Crystal – Image Credit: Alexander Van Driessche – CC 2.0
Crystal Cave – Image Credit : Julie Rohloff

4 – The Eisriesenwelt

The Eisriesenwelt (German for “World of the Ice Giants”) is a natural limestone and ice cave located in Werfen, Austria, about 40 km south of Salzburg. The cave is inside the Hochkogel mountain in the Tennengebirge section of the Alps. It is the largest ice cave in the world, extending more than 42 km and visited by about 200,000 tourists every year.  The first official discovery of Eisriesenwelt was by Anton Posselt, a natural scientist from Salzburg, in 1879, though he only explored the first two hundred meters of the cave. Before his discovery, the cave was known only to locals, who, believing that it was an entrance to Hell, refused to explore it.

The Eisriesenwelt – Image Credit : Maik Meid – CC 4.0
The Eisriesenwelt – Image Credit : eisriesenwelt.at

5 – Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves attraction is a cave at Waitomo on the North Island of New Zealand. It is known for its population of Arachnocampa luminosa, a glowworm species found exclusively in New Zealand. The limestone formation in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves occurred when the region was still under the ocean about 30 million years ago. The caves began to form when earth movement caused the hard limestone to bend and buckle under the ocean and rise above the sea floor. As the rock was exposed to air, it separated and created cracks and weaknesses that allowed for water to flow through them dissolving the limestone over millions of years.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves – Image Credit : Donnie Ray Jones – CC 2.0
Waitomo Glowworm Caves – Image Credit : Манько Марко – CC 4.0

6 – Cango Caves

The Cango Caves are located in Precambrian limestones at the foothills of the Swartberg range near the town of Oudtshoorn, in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The caves were rediscovered in modern times in 1780 by a local farmer named Jacobus Van Zyl and extends for around 4 km.

Cango Caves – Image Credit: Rute Martins of Leoa’s Photography – CC 2.0
Cango Caves – Image Credit: Anagoria – – CC 3.0

7 – Callao Cave

Callao Cave is one of the limestone caves located in the municipality of Peñablanca, Cagayan province, in the Philippines. The seven-chamber show cave is one of 300 caves that dot the area and the best known natural tourist attractions of the province. The Callao cave system is composed of seven chambers, each with natural crevices above that let streams of light illuminate the cave with beams of light.

Callao Cave – Image Credit : Rawen Balmaña – CC 2.0
Callao Cave – Image Credit: mkirader – CC 2.0

8 – Crystal Cave

Crystal Cave is a cave in the British overseas territory of Bermuda in Hamilton Parish, close to Castle Harbour. The cave is approximately 500 m long by 62 m deep and formed at a time when the sea level was lower. A tourist attraction since 1907, it was discovered in 1905 by Carl Gibbons and Edgar Hollis, two 12-year-old boys searching for a lost cricket ball.

Crystal Cave – Image Credit : Andrew Malone – CC 2.0
Crystal Cave – Image Credit : Tomwsulcer – CC License 2.0

9 – Cueva de los Verdes

Cueva de los Verdes is a lava tube and tourist attraction of the Haria municipality on the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Spain. The cave lies within the Monumento Natural del Malpaís de La Corona, a protected area of the Canary Islands. The cave was created around 3,000 years ago by lava flows erupting from the nearby volcano Monte Corona, flowing across the Malpaís de la Corona toward the sea.

Cueva de los Verdes – Image Credit : Lviatour – CC License 3.0
Cueva de los Verdes – Image Credit : Frank Vincentz – CC License 3.0

10 – Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns is a cave located in the Carlsbad National Park in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. Carlsbad Cavern includes a large limestone chamber named simply the Big Room, which is almost 4,000 feet (1,220 m) long, 625 feet (191 m) wide, and 255 feet (78 m) high at its highest point. The Big Room is the fifth largest chamber in North America and the twenty-eighth largest in the world.

Carlsbad Caverns – Image Credit : Daniel Mayer – License CC 3.0
Carlsbad Caverns – Image Credit : Fredlyfish4 – License CC 4.0

Header Image – Cave of the Crystal – Image Credit:  – Image Credit : Julie Rohloff – CC 2.0

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