Cavern Geology Lesson Plan: page 1
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Cavern Geology

Lesson 1: What is a Cavern?


Students will learn to identify the different types of caves.


Cave or Cavern?
Is there a difference between a cave and a cavern? This is a frequently asked question, and many people use the terms interchangeably. However, there is a difference. A cave is any cavity in the ground that is large enough that some portion of it will not receive direct sunlight. There are many types of caves (discussed in this lesson plan). A cavern is a specific type of cave, naturally formed in soluble rock with the ability to grow speleothems. So, although a cavern can accurately be called a cave (since it is a type of cave), all caves cannot be called caverns.

Caves can be classified into two main categories known as primary and secondary. This classification is based on their origin. Primary caves are developed as the host rock is solidifying. Examples of primary caves include lava tubes and coral caves (descriptions follow). Secondary caves are carved out of the host rock after it has been deposited or consolidated. Most caves fall in the secondary category. However, some primary caves may later be enlarged by the forces associated with secondary cave development.

Cavern Geology Lesson Plan: page 1
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