CCaves
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Glossary
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 earth's surface.
Mammoth Cave
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                          Mammoth Cave  

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.
All 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.
Mammouth Cave
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mammouth cave 2

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