Thursday, May 5, 2011
Fun Facts about Caves
We all know caves and generally we think of them as cold, dark, wet places where nothing but vampires and bats live. And they just have weird formations such as “Cave Popcorn”:
(These are often found near the entrances of caves, because they tend to need a lot of air flow to form; and if you’re lost in a cave, and you see these little things, then you known there is an entrance nearby.)
Or “Stalagmites” and “Stalactites”:
But what most people don’t know is, caves are much more then that . . . there are hundreds, upon thousands of fascinating facts about caves, but I will only mention a few.
1: How exactly do caves form?
This is an interesting question; there are many ways they could be formed, but the most common is when water seeps through the ground, and mixes with carbon, and the water become “Acidic”, and slowly melts, or erodes the rock away.
Another way is over thousands of years, water erodes the rock away and it becomes a cave, without the need for it to be Acidic.
(Water eroding rock away).
Number two: Can things live, and thrive in caves?
The short answer to this question is yes, and no. Yes because obviously insects live in caves, and they can live in there comfortably, and no because most animals (or mammals) that live in caves, tend to get most of their nutrience from out of the cave (E.G Bats eating insects, that aren’t in the cave). But mostly yes, they can.
Number three: Can caves support plant life?
Near the entrance, yes, but deep in the cave, unless there is a continuous source of light, and water, then, no. Now, some mosses have “evolved” to be able to live in a cave, but that is a completely different story.
Number four: Do caves stay in the same shape, and size?
No, not at all in fact. Scientists have proven that caves are constantly changing, do to water eroding the rock away, and plates shifting, which does affect the caves. Though sometimes, if too much erosion is to occur; then it can ruin the cave, and it’s natural beauty.
Number five: Are the formations in caves alive?
Technically, yes. Do to the bacteria live on the formations, and the formations do change, they are kind of alive, in a sense, anyway. If you are referring to the actual rock, then. . . That is a debated subject, but the most common answer you will hear is “no”.
Number six: Do caves help the ecosystem?
Well, the things living in the caves help it, but the cave itself really has no effect on the ecosystem. Though, caves can perhaps, open up spaces to full of water to feed plants, and trees, which could be considered helping the ecosystem.
Number seven: What is the largest cave on earth; and where is it?
That would be the Hang Son Doong cave, Vietnam. They discovered it a few years ago, and they still haven’t found all of the “rooms”! It is thought to of started forming over 100,000 years ago, which in case you didn’t know, is a really long time.
Number eight: Does electricity affect caves?
Yes, they can completely destroy caves. In fact, some caves have even been shut down because of wiring through them! It has to do with where they place the wires, if they attempt to place it in the cave walls, then that can ruin the cave by preventing formations, such as stalagmites, and stalactites, from “growing”.
Number nine: Does pollution ruin caves?
Yes, like wiring, it can completely destroy caves by poisoning the animals that live there, and upsetting the natural ecosystem caves have. The way it “destroys” the cave is by poisoning the animals that live there, and if there are no animals to keep the cave clean, then with the mosses, and insects, it will destroy the caves natural beauty, and disturb the natural events that take place in caves.
Number ten: Did people live in caves?
Yes, they have even found fossils, and paintings in caves, but they were more likely used for worship places. It is debated among historians, and archeologists whether or not those people actually lived in the caves all of their lives.
So how does all of this work together exactly? I’ll explain it like this, the thousands of years of erosion (water, and wind) form caves, the left over water soaks into the soil, and then it becomes acidic, the acidic water slowly starts to spread; molding rocks in to formations, forming stalactites, and stalagmites, after many years of this process, the cave can become very, very large, making room for animals, plants, and bacteria. Then, man will find this cave, make a home out of it, or open it to the public. Which then, they run wires through the cave. And people will obviously bring drinks and such into the cave, completely ruining it, and shutting the entire cave that seemed to be going forever, down.
BUT! It doesn’t have to be that way, there are some options available to us to help stop caves from being ruined! Such as not allowing drinks, and snacks into the cave. Also running little, to no wiring through a cave, or caves. Caves CAN be a good place, natural place if we all work together to prevent caves from being ruined, even picking up that one little piece of trash that blows into to a cave, could help the cave.
Thank you for reading, and remember; caves are important too!