A limestone cave is most likely to contain beautiful cave formations. Also, the deepest and longest caves in the world are of this type, making them some of the most adventurous . But how are these caves formed?
Limestone is mostly made up of the mineral calcite (calcium carbonate). Most limestone was formed on ancient ocean floors, the calcite coming from the shells of marine organisms. Limestone is very soluble, meaning it is easily dissolved. Rainwater picks up carbon dioxidein the air and a weak solution of carbonic acid is formed. This water can dissolve limestone over time, creating a cave.
The same water that dissolved the calcite in the limestone can deposit the calcite in other areas of the cave, creating cave formations known as speleothems. These are the stalactites, stalagmites and other formations commonly found in this type of cave.
Recently, it has been discovered that the well-known caves of Carlsbad Caverns and Lechuguilla Cave were not formed from carbonic acid but from sulfuric acid. It was discovered that oil-eating microorganisms deep within the earth produce hydrogen sulfide that rose up and mixed with ground water producing sulfuric acid. It was this sulfuric acid that dissolved the limestone forming the caves.
Either way, because the soluble limestone is partially dissolved and carried away, these are a type of solutional cave. Less common solutional caves are formed in other types of rock like chalk, marble or gypsum.
Often limestone caves are named caverns. What’s the Difference? They are really the same thing. The name cavern is often used for very large caves or caves that contain large rooms like the Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns. This is the largest cave room in the USA.
So where do we find limestone caves? They’re in many areas of the world, so you have a lot to choose from when planning your next adventure.
The USA has many limestone caves and caverns. Below you will find a state by state listing of the most popular. Click on the ones that are links for more information.
To see these caves located on a map, click here.
|Cathedral Caverns||Colossal Cave|
|Desoto Caverns||Grand Canyon Caverns|
|Rickwood Caverns||Kartchner Caverns|
|Blanchard Springs Caverns||California Caverns|
|Cave of The Winds||Florida Caverns State Park|
|Bluespring Caverns||Maquoketa Caves|
|Indiana Caverns||Spook Cave|
|Squire Boone Caverns|
|Carter Caves||Cameron Cave|
|Diamond Caverns||Crystal Cave|
|Kentucky Caverns||Fantastic Caverns|
|Lost River Cave||Mark Twain Cave|
|Mammoth Cave National Park||Meramec Caverns|
|Talking Rocks Cavern|
|Lewis and Clark Caverns||Carlsbad Caverns|
|Lehman Caves||Howe Caverns|
|Whipple Cave||Secret Caverns|
|Linville Caverns||Crystal Cave|
|Olentangy Indian Caverns|
|Robbers Cave||Oregon Caves National Monument|
|Pennsylvania||Puerto Rico (not a state, but almost)|
|Bear Cave||Camuy Caves|
|Crystal Cave PA|
|Indian Echo Caverns|
|Lost River Caverns|
|Jewel Cave||Appalachian Caverns|
|Rushmore Cave||Bell Witch Cave|
|Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns||Bristol Caverns|
|Wind Cave National Park||Cumberland Caverns|
|Racoon Mountain Caverns|
|Inner Space Caverns|
|Natural Bridge Caverns|
|Dixie Caverns||Lost World Caverns|
|Luray Caverns||Organ Cave|
|Skyline Caverns||Seneca Caverns|
|Smoke Hole Caverns|
|Cave of the Mounds|