Difference Between Cave and Cavern | Cave vs Cavern


Key Difference – Cave vs Cavern
 

Caves and caverns are natural chambers that are found on the earth. Caves can be defined as openings in the earth or in the side of hills or cliffs. Caverns are a type of caves that are naturally formed in soluble rock with the ability to grow speleothems. and are larger or deeper in extent. This is the key difference between cave and cavern.

What is a Cave?

A cave is a natural chamber or opening in the earth or in the side of a hill or cliff. Thus, the opening of a cave can either be vertical or horizontal. When compared with caverns, caves are smaller and typically consists of one chamber. Sunlight does not reach some parts of a cave. Caves are formed by various geological processes, including erosion from water, tectonic forces, pressure, microorganisms, atmospheric influences, and a combination of chemical processes. The formation of caves is known as speleogenesis. The science of exploration of caves and the study of caves in known as Speleology.

Caves can be typically classified into two basic categories called primary and secondary caves, based on their origins. Primary caves are those that develop as the host rock solidifies. Secondary caves are the caves that carve out of the rock after it has been consolidated or deposited. Most caves on earth are secondary caves. There are other different types of caves such as coral caves, Eolian Caves, glacier caves, ice caves, volcanic caves, sea caves, Talus Caves, and tectonic caves.

Difference Between Cave and Cavern | Cave vs Cavern

What is a Cavern?

A cavern is a type of caves. It typically tends to be larger and deeper in extent than a cave. A cavern may also have a series of chambers or smaller caves joined together by a passageway. In geology, a cavern can refer to “a special type of cave, naturally formed in soluble rock with the ability to grow speleothems”. Speleothems are minerals deposited in caves due to chemical reactions.

By this definition, solution caves fall under the classification of caverns. Such caverns are formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks like dolomite (calcium magnesium carbonate), limestone (calcium carbonate), gypsum (calcium sulfate dihydrate) and salt (halite).  The rock is dissolved by the natural acids in water that seep through the cavern. These types of caves are the most common type of caves in the world.

Difference Between Cave and Cavern | Cave vs Cavern

What is the difference between Cave and Cavern?

Definition:

Cave: A cave is a natural chamber or opening in the earth or in the side of a hill or cliff.

Cavern: A cave of large or indefinite extent, typically formed by soluble rocks with the ability to form speleothems.

Relation:

Cave: Not all caves are caverns.

Cavern: Caverns are a type of caves.

Chambers:

Cave: A cave typically has one chamber.

Cavern: A cavern may have a number of chambers or small caves connected through a single passageway.

Rock:

Cave: Caves may be formed with different processes with various different materials.

Cavern: Caverns are formed in soluble rock with the ability to grow speleothems.

Reference:

“Cavern Geology” (PDF). National Caves Association. Retrieved 29 June 2016.

Image Courtesy:

“View inside Carlsbad Cavern-99” By Daniel Mayer – Taken by uploader (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

“Resava cave” By Antidiskriminator – Own work  (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia