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About Caves

These mysterious natural openings into the earth, although dark, cold, dirty and dangerous, hold a tremendous allure and people will risk their lives just to see where they go. Many caves have been developed for commercial tours, either privately or by government entities, and many others sit in the wild, unattended and sometimes mostly ignored. All caves are alien and unearthly with hidden mystery. Some caves feature beautiful and unique stone formations deposited by ages of dripping water. Stalagtites and Stalagmites, columns of stone hanging from the ceiling or rising from the floor, are the best known cave formations.

Three main processes form caves. Solutional caves lie in limstone or other soluable rocks which can be dissolved by rainwater charged with carbonic acid. Water seeping through small cracks in the rock dissolves small bits of rock, just as sugar dissolves in water. The rock is then carried away and deposited elsewhere, and a microscopic hole is left in the rock. Over long periods of time, enormous caverns can be created in this manner.

Lava tube caves form in flowing lava from a volcano. While the lava is flowing, the top surface is exposed to the cooler air and forms a crust. The lava underneath continues to flow right on out of tube, leaving a long straight tunnel-like cave.

Earthquakes can also form caves. On faults, where two large chunks of the earth's surface touch, one side will slip past the other side. Forces inside the earth push fragments of the crust around from time to time. Since the surfaces along the fault are ragged, voids can be left as they slip past each other.

Despite the difficulty of photographing a cave, UntraveledRoad features three small caves. Paris Ice Cave is a solutional cave. Water from a basin high in the mountains seeps into the limestone bedrock, eroding immense caverns and tiny crawlways. Formation Cave was formed in a hot spring, like those at Yellowstone. The water source dwindled, and/or the heat source cooled off, leaving the hot springs dry and opening up these tunnels just under the surface. Niter Ice Cave is a lava tube cave.