Here is the original Virtual Cave, devoted to the astounding variety of nature's handiwork found in solution caves, those dissolved out of solid rock by acidic waters. Most solution caves are found in carbonate rocks (limestone, dolomite, or marble) or gypsum. They may also occur in sandstones, since carbonates often form the "glue" that holds sandstone together. They can also 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. The pages below should provide a glimpse of the amazing variety of these features. Look all you want, but please don't touch, as these are fragile things formed over thousands of years. Enjoy them but leave them intact for the next visitor! The caver's motto is "Take nothing but pictures, cave softly, and leave no trace of your visit."

To see how these features look in an idealized cave, use our very cool Virtual Cave image map . You can navigate the site with the map or choose from the list of speleothems below. Some in the text list are not on the map, so check that for more.

Special topics not found in the image map or the text list below:

KARST-landscapes associated with caves

LIFE IN CAVES-what lives down there?

SPELEOGENS-forms scultpted in the cave's own bedrock

SALT CAVES-caves dissolved from salt beds

World's largest known cave formations!

Text links to formations-choose a room to explore:

Aragonite & Frostwork
Baldacchino Canopies
Balloons
Bathtubs
Bell Canopies
Blisters
Bottlebrushes
Boxwork
Columns
Conulites
Coralloids
Deflected Stalactites
Draperies
Fibrous forms
Flowstone
Folia
Gypsum Flowers
Halite Flowers
Helictites
Ice formations
Moonmilk
Mud Stalagmites
Pearls
Pool Fingers
Pool Spar
Popcorn
Mammillaries
Rafts
Raft Cones

Rims
Rimstone
Rootsicles
Shelfstone
Shields
Showerheads
Soda Straws
Splattermites
Spar
Speleogens
Stalactites
Stalagmites
Stegamites
Trays


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Right now you're in the Solution Cave section of the Virtual Cave. Follow this link to our Home Page to connect to pages on other types of caves like Sea Caves, Erosional Caves & Glacier Caves, and Lava Tubes, in our extensive Virtual Lava Tube.