|limestone-A type of
rock, as marble that contains mainly calcium carbonate.
crevasse-a deep crack or gap
topography- the physical features of a region or place
bedrock- the solid rock under the looser materials of the
The geology of Mammoth cave began many millions of years ago. The land we know as south Kentucky was once under
the sea. The host of marine life found in these water so many
years ago have become the foundation of the puzzle we call Mammoth Cave. The
story of this cave or system of caves continues today. Who know where it will end?
Mammoth Cave has the reputation for being one of the
continent's oldest tourist attractions and is home to one of the world's
natural wonders. It is also the world's longest cave with 365 miles
mapped with plenty more to go and covers about 52,835 acres. It is mainly formed with
limestone rock and has five levels due to flooding.
Rain water was acidified by the carbon dioxide in the soft soil and was
eating into the surface of the Earth causing at first, cracks then
crevasses and finally caverns. At the same time the Green River was
cutting deeper and deeper into the land. The falling water table
resulting from this weathering continued and new drains were formed. The
Green River has continued to carve routes through the land and the many
sinkholes have helped create the multiple layers.
this was happening some 250 million years ago. This makes Mammoth
Cave one of the great treasures of the world.
Approaching Mammoth cave the karst topography provides the clues that
reveal the existence of Mammoth Cave. Characterized by sinkholes this landscape is caused by water dissolving bedrock
usually made of softer rocks made of calcium carbonate like limestone.
Karst regions such as this one can be found in many places
around the globe but the one where Mammoth Cave is found is the
largest karst region in the world.
The interior of Mammoth cave is filled with speleothems for which many
caves are famous. The decorations known as gypsum flowers and needles,
stalagmites and stalactites can be found throughout the corridors and
caverns. Curtains, columns and rimstone dams and pools are
deposited as so many gems and just like these precious stones have
taken many years to form. More information on these cave
formations can be located in our "Inside Caves" site.
The cave has a numerous number of endangered, threatened , and
state-listed animals such as the Eyeless Cave Shrimp and several types
of mussels. Mammoth Cave has a number of plants too, which includes Eggert's
Sunflower. The creatures found in these caverns are covered in our Cave
Animals section. The mysterious maze below south Kentucky serves to
remind us of the natural wonders of our world and the history of the
planet we live on.