15 Terms Often Used By Cave Divers

This article will provide interesting information about the phrases and terms often used by cave divers.

Cave divers have developed a rich lexicon of terms to characterize the underwater tunnels they explore. Some come directly from geological terms, while others come from local jargon.

Some Terms Commonly Used By Cave Divers

Below you will find some terms that are often used by cave divers when they swim through passages.

1. Sinkhole

The contour of a common sinkhole is often hourglass and usually has a pile of debris at the bottom of the structure, known as a talus cone.

Sinkholes can appear gradually or suddenly, and they can be found worldwide.

Sinkholes are sometimes caused by slow erosion triggered by water seeping into the cave, followed by the weakening of the cave ceiling.

It is possible that they were created after the water table dropped, either through a flood that washed away important subsurface support systems.

Excessive groundwater extraction, loss of tree cover, and changes to existing natural drainage systems are all human activities that can lead to the formation of new sinkholes.

Not only that, many people refer to sinkholes in different terms.

For example, cenotes are what people in Mexico call sinkholes.

Also, Dominicans refer to them as pozos, while the Bahamas refer to them as blue holes.

The size of the sinkhole, often referred to as the sink, can range from just a foot to the size of an entire city block.

A large hole appeared in Winter Park, Florida, in May 1981, when the area was experiencing a severe drought.

Over one day, the hole grew to more than 300 ft or 90 meters wide and reached a depth of about 100 ft or 30 meters, eventually swallowing a car showroom, swimming pool, and significant road surface areas.

2. Speleothems

Caves often have beautiful carbonate patterns on their tops and surfaces.

These structures were created when water dripped into the cave when it had earlier been dry. Good examples of speleothems include:

  • columns
  • stalactites that hang from the ceiling
  • stalagmites formed from the floor
  • helictites which are caused by the wind
  • rim pools
  • shields
  • bacon strips
  • pearls

Remember, when these formations are destroyed, they are permanently gone.

3. Siphon

The siphon is the entrance to the cave where water enters as it flows downstream.

In addition to these names, they are sometimes referred to as:

  • ponors
  • go-away holes
  • insurgences
  • sucks
  • sinks
  • syphons
  • swallets
  • estavelles

On the surface of the water, siphons can sometimes be identified by the appearance of a circular structure from flowing water.

So, it is possible that there was also a certain concentration of debris in addition to the loss of material into the pit.

4. Karst Window

This is a word that describes the complexities that consist of a spring and a siphon. So, it consists of simultaneous upstream and downstream flows in the pool configured in a form.

Water rises underground to access the pool, passes through the hole, and then falls downstream. Several other names exist for this system, including the sinking school and the revolt/revival system.

A karst window may be connected to a rising and sinking river like the Santa Fe River in Florida. You can also see them at various dive sites, including Florida’s famous Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park.

5. Phreatic

The term “phreatic” describes cave passages formed or extended below the water’s surface.

Chemical dissolution and the movement of water over rock both help create the phreatic tube.

One of the signs of water movement and phreatic events is the pattern of shells engraved in the sandstone.

6. Vadose

The term “vadose zone” is used to describe the area of a cave that is above the water’s surface.

The expansion process can be triggered by a moving stream, the substance’s environment, dissolution, and deposition.

The submerged caves of Mexico have beautiful speleothems that form when the cave entrance is dry. In addition, the Vadose Formation leaves evidence of natural decoration in the cave.

7. Breakdown

The term “breakdown” means spaces with piles of rock and sometimes slopes of debris that may have fallen from above at some point during cave formation.

8. Spring

The spring is a water-flowing vent or entrance throughout a cave.

9. Head Pool or Head Spring

This term means a water basin at a spring or a cave entrance. Cave divers also commonly refer to them as a spring vent, spring basin, or just a basin.

10. Spring Run

The narrow stream branches off from the main spring and eventually flows into another body of water, most often a river.

11. Offset Sink

The term offset sink means a sinkhole that still has ground-level flow through it, whether it be upstream or even downstream.

You can check out this sink at Orange Grove in Luraville, Florida.

12. Caletta

A phrase used in Mexico describes a place where freshwater springs release their water into coastal lagoons.

You can find this particular type of geology in the Yal Ku Lagoon, located near Akumal, Mexico. So, this huge lagoon is fed by the many freshwater vents along its perimeter.

13. Sump

Sump means the part of the cave that is filled with rising water and ends the area in the cave that is filled with air.

14. Sump Diving

Part of cave diving combines dry caving with underwater cave exploration. It is one of the most challenging types of sports to access.

Undoubtedly one of the most exciting activities of modern sump exploration is carried out in Central Mexico through a project called J2 undertaken by the US Deep Caving Team.

Before making their initial dives, explorers had to spend eight days bringing their equipment further into the cave.

15. Underground Lake

As the name suggests, this is a fairly large lake that sits in a cavern passage filled with air.

Thus an explanation of the meaning of the terms that cave divers widely use. Hopefully, this can add to your knowledge and keep safety first when you dive.

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