Obsession of the Day : Caves/ Majestic Wonders From All Over the World
Spelunking through an underground realm, the likes of which could never be replicated to its most natural form, is the epitome of adventure travel. To journey the cosmic rock formations and unearth the mystery of weathered slag; a process that takes time and precision, is arguably one of the best ways to study life on this planet and possibly even the worlds beyond. A deeper understanding of the universe that stretches light years before us could be closer than we realize as we expand our knowledge of tectonic force, atmospheric erosion, microorganisms and more through the twists, turns and tunnels of caves. Let’s start at the beginning.
Caves : Not Exactly What You Thought They Were
Unlike other architectural structures scattered throughout our planet, caves are not manmade. One of the most fascinating aspects of caves is the fact that they contain “rooms” and other elements found in post and pre-modern architecture, and while mimicking Mother Nature’s blueprint is a tried and true past-time for mankind, many of us are still completely unaware of the exact attributes of caves (i.e. what makes a cave a cave and so forth). This is because the study of caves requires the utilization of many different sciences, including but not limited to:
- Coastal Morphodynamics and, of course…
- Speleology— a science dedicated specifically to the study of caves from structure, to history to physical attributes
For the layman’s introduction to caves, we’ll skip the scientific hypothesis and just get straight to the point. Picture yourself in a dark and mystical cavern; stalactites looming overhead, columns carved of limestone and gypsum adorning the interior. It’s pretty safe to assume you’re in a cave in this situation. But not all caves are made of rock. Some are made of lava, some of salt, some are even made of glaciers and above all, it’s important to understand that there are various different types of caves. Cave types are classified not just by what they are comprised of, but also by the ways in which they were created. For example, a cave comprised of lava that came to be as a byproduct of volcanic activity is not classified as the same type as a cave that is comprised of rock fragments and made its mark on the world as the end result of a landslide. Educating yourself on cave types is an excellent way to stay on par in terms of recognizing caves but understanding what isn’t a cave is of equal, maybe even greater importance. One good rule of thumb that can help you decide if something isn’t a cave is to seek out any signs of manmade components. If an opening or tunnel appears to have been manufactured as opposed to organic, it probably isn’t a cave. Examples of entities that look like caves but are not caves are:
- Man-made tunnels underground
Why We’re Obsessed With Them
For eons, caves, in all of their mystifying forms, have been utilized by humankind for shelter, worship, burial procedures, art and storage. So much of what we know about prehistoric civilizations comes directly out of caves, which is what makes caving such a crucial activity. Examples of the many finds brought forth via spelunking include:
- Minerals, gems, precious metals etc.
- Never before seen creatures
- Early evidence of graphic communication (i.e. symbols, carvings and etchings)
The Best Treasures Are Hiding Between These Walls
caves that rock
Caves are undeniably some of the coolest cracks in the Earth’s surface. They’re surrounded by danger and mystery and they’re often brimming with rare finds that hold monetary and/or historical value. Here are just some of the most magnificent caves around:
Brazil’s Poco Azul
Encrusted in diamonds, shrouded in gold and surrounded by crystal blue waters, it’s no wonder the locals say that Poco Azul is enchanting. An underwater excavation through this colossal cavern is complete with rushing waterfalls and towering trees from a time long past; even the bones of undiscovered beasts have been uncovered between these walls. This is the stuff that legends are made of.
Iceland’s Kverkfjoll Ice Cave
See what happens when fire and ice come together to create a 1.8 mile cavern you won’t soon forget. Earth science fans will marvel at the conditions that make this ice cave a reality—a glacier settled on the edge of a boiling hot spring. This adventure is not without its share of ever prevalent uncertainty, albeit the mountain range upon which it stands is abundant with active volcanoes.
China’s Reed Flute Cave
So vibrant and beautiful that one photograph alone could never do it justice. China’s Reed Flute Cave, which now basks in a Technicolor glow, is said to be more than 180 million years old and judging by its size and peculiar formations, it’s definitely seen its share of visitors. This cave is most well known for its Tang Dynasty notations which can be seen scrawled in ink along the walls.
Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant In Diana Beach, Kenya
This cave and all other caves that have been converted into gathering places are uber cool. What sets Ali Barbour’s apart, aside from the limestone of course, is its exotic beach location, the amazing selection of seafood and the sunroof Mother Nature carved overhead that filters in the starlight for the ultimate romantic touch.
Scientific evidence does little to prove and/or disprove the possibility or reality of life on Mars but one thing we know for sure is on Mars—Caves. Picture this for the wave of the future: Spelunking in Space.
upcoming obsessions Fueled By this topic
Researching caves and their excavation has me excited to learn about unusual eateries around the world, graphic communication, the ice age,
speleotherapy, martian caves and Coastal Morphodynamics.
the obsession that started it all
This topic and, notably all future topics, started as an offshoot of my very first documented obsession: Underwater Worlds.
This webpage contains unaltered versions of Wikimedia’s Reed Flute Cave, Poco Azul, Vatnajökull – Kverkfjöll – Glacier cave , Caving in New Zealand and Flickr’s Mexico Restaurant Cave all of which were available under Creative Commons licensing.
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