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Quaternary Earth Systems

Cave science (Speleology)

Caves are an essential part of landscapes formed in soluble rocks, like limestone and marble (called karst landscapes). Karst caves are created by groundwater flowing through the rock.

Cave in Romania with speleothems.
Cave in Romania with speleothems.
Photo:
Stein Erik Lauritzen

The cave scientist seeks to find out how and when the caves and surrounding landscape were formed and consider the classical enigma of dating a hole rather than a deposit! Caves will resist until all surrounding rock is gone and therefore preserve information on past landscapes, tectonics, groundwater flow, climate, fauna, flora and human history. Cave science is necessary for proper understanding of groundwater and petroleum reservoirs in carbonate rocks and precise mapping of climate changes in the terrestrial environment.