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CAVES:WORLD'S LARGEST, LONGEST, AND DEEPEST



  Apr 23, 2024

CAVES:WORLD'S LARGEST, LONGEST, AND DEEPEST



1. What is the world’s largest cave by volume?

Hang Son Doong in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam, is the largest cave by volume, measuring approximately 38.5 million cubic meters. It was discovered by a local logger in 1990 and contains its own underground rainforests and enormous cave formations.

2. Which cave holds the record for being the longest?

Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, USA, holds the record for the world’s longest cave system, with over 676 kilometers of mapped passages. This extensive network of caves has been explored for thousands of years, with archaeological evidence showing human activity dating back 5,000 years.

3. What is the deepest cave in the world?

Verëvkina Cave in the Arabika Massif, Georgia, is currently recognized as the deepest cave in the world, reaching a depth of 2,212 meters. It surpassed the nearby Krubera Cave in 2018 when explorers reached its terminal sump.

4. How are most caves formed?

Most caves are formed in karst landscapes, which consist of soluble rocks like limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. These rocks dissolve over time in the presence of slightly acidic water, a process that typically takes more than 100,000 years to create spaces large enough to be explored by humans.

5. What other processes can form caves besides dissolution?

Besides the dissolution of karst, caves can also form through the erosion of coastlines, by meltwater carving tunnels into glaciers, and from the cooling and hardening of highly fluid lava which leaves behind tubular caves.

6. What are some notable features within large caves?

Large caves like Hang Son Doong can have unique and vast features such as underground rainforests, immense stalagmites, and large calcite formations known as the 'Great Wall of Vietnam.' These features contribute to the cave’s ecosystem and provide a spectacular environment for exploration.

7. How are caves important to science and culture?

Caves are crucial for scientific research as they can offer insights into geological processes, paleoclimate conditions, and biodiversity. Culturally, caves have been used by humans for shelter, religious practices, and art, as evidenced by cave paintings and artifacts found within them.

8. What challenges do explorers face when mapping caves?

Mapping caves is a challenging and risky endeavor due to the complex, often unstable terrain, and the potential for sudden floods or rock falls. Cave explorers, known as speleologists, must be highly skilled in navigation, climbing, and survival techniques.

These FAQs provide a snapshot of some of the most remarkable cave systems on Earth, highlighting their formation, exploration, and significance in natural history and human culture.



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