Cave formation

Cave formation

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Credit: ROBERT CHASE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Cave formation. Artwork of the process by which caves are made. Falling rain (top) absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and decaying organic matter (leaves), forming carbonic acid (H2CO3). This weakly acidic solution seeps through cracks in limestone (centre), dissolving the calcium carbonate in it. The cracks widen and become channels, which lead further into the limestone. Eventually, underground chambers are formed. Once the cave has formed, water dripping from the cave roof or flowing over cave walls leaves behind a deposit of limestone crystal. This leads to the formation of stalagtites (bottom) and stalagmites (not shown).

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Keywords: art, artwork, cave, caves, chamber, formation, geological, geology, illustration, leaves, limestone, mineral, organic matter, rain, rock, stalactites, underground

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