Origin of Caves in Folded Limestone


Link to Full Text

Download Full Text

Publication Date

January 1960


Investigation of caves in folded limestone of the Appalachian region reveals five distinct features bearing on the origin of solution caves: (1) cavern passages develop across the dip or parallel to the strike of the limestone and generally have uniform gental slope independent of the rock structure; (2) many caves have passages on multiple levels, and, within a region, the separation of levels is uniform; (3) intervals between passage levels correspond closely to intervals between gravel benches on the flanks of major surface valleys in the cavern region; (4) major caves are along large valleys, and only small caves and solution pockets occur in upland areas away from major valleys; and (5) cavern passages decrease in size and become more numerous in the part of the cave away from major surface valleys. The stages of cavern development in folded limestone beds probably are: (1) random solution at depth in a zone of saturation to produce nonintegrated solution tubes and pockets; (2) integration of tubes into mature caverns at the top of the zone of saturation during a period when the water table was uniform in altitude, and flow was constant for a long period of time (direction of flow was toward major valleys); (3) deposition of clastic fill under alternating conditions of saturation and aeration; and (4) relative uplift of the cave above the zone of saturation with modification of passages by deposition of speleothems, erosion to fill material, and collapse.

Document Type



Bulletin of the National Speleological Society, Vol. 22, no. 1 (1960).