Dudley Caving Club

(Formerly Dudley Cave Rescue Team)

Website designed, created and maintained by Keith Edwards.  Copyright Dudley Caving Club 1997 - 2017

Caving and mine exploration are activities with a risk of personal injury or death. Participants in such activities should be aware and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement. Through its association with the BCA Dudley Caving Club recognises that correct training is one way of minimising such risks and provides opportunities for training.

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Setting the Scene

Some aspects of cave development are covered within these pages.  Diagrams are used to illustrate cave features.  Many of these features are also illustrated by photographs. Where a feature is illustrated by a photograph a camera icon is included by the diagram.  The photograph can be viewed by clicking on the camera icon.

Cave Origins

Nearly all caves are formed from a sedimentary rock called limestone.

Around 400 million years ago the Earth was almost entirely covered by sea. The limestone beds were formed from the skeletons of countless billions of marine animals. The layers called limy ooze were, in time covered by other sediments. The weights of the sediments pressed the limy ooze into solid rock.

Over the next several million years movements in the plates that make up the Earth's crust caused many of the limestone beds to be lifted up and left high and dry.

The major period of cave development was from about 2 million years ago to 10 thousand years ago.

Acid Rain

The first stage of cave formation is caused by the action of acid rain. Rain becomes acidic by dissolving carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, this weak acid becomes much stronger and aggressive as it soaks through the soil and peat covering the limestone.

Synclines and Anticlines

Had the limestone been a solid sheet the water running over it would have had little to get its teeth into, however the enormous forces which moved the rocks caused them to distort into Down-folds called Synclines and Up-folds called Anticlines.

The pressure on the rock layers caused them to crack.  Now the acidic water could percolate into the limestone beds through the cracks.

Down-fold or Syncline

Up-fold or Anticline