Cave

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A cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. Some people[who?] suggest that the term cave should only apply to natural cavities some part of which is in total darkness; however, in popular usage, the term includes smaller spaces like sea caves, rock shelters, and grottos.

Speleology is the science of exploration and study of all aspects of caves and the environment which surrounds the caves. Exploring a cave for recreation or science may be called caving, potholing, or, in Canada and the United States, spelunking (see Caving).

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Types and formation

The formation and development of caves is known as speleogenesis. Caves are formed by various geologic processes. These may involve a combination of chemical processes, erosion from water, tectonic forces, microorganisms, pressure, atmospheric influences, and even digging.

Most caves are formed in limestone by dissolution.

Solutional cave

Solutional caves are the most frequently occurring caves and such caves form in rock that is soluble, such as limestone, but can also form in other rocks, including chalk, dolomite, marble, salt, and gypsum. Rock is dissolved by natural acid in groundwater that seeps through bedding-planes, faults, joints etc. Over geological epochs cracks expand to become caves or cave systems.

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