Mirror, Mirror, On the Floor 📷 Dave Bunnell

Solutional Caves


Solutional caves are formed when solid rock is dissolved by acidic water. These are the caves most people think of when they think of caves. Most solution caves are found in carbonate rocks like limestone, dolomite, marble, or gypsum. But they may also occur in sandstones, since carbonates often form the "glue" that holds sandstone together. They even occur in salt, which dissolves quickly.

Typically, caves are dissolved while they are below the water table. It is only after the cave is drained and exposed to air that the deposition of secondary mineral features or speleothems may begin.

As acidic water dissolves the solid rock in a cave, it becomes saturated with mineral content. As the water continues to flow through the cave, it can re-deposit those minerals creating speleothems.