Through this article, I want to tell you about the types of underwater caves.
A cave diver’s knowledge of the actual environment is improved by having a fundamental perspective of geology or even cave structure.
Basic information helps the diver make better risk analysis decisions, helps with navigation, and increases diving pleasure.
I give this section basic information with the awareness that cave divers have generated particular terms that could vary from scientific terms.
So, I apologize to scientists, wherever you are, for that.
However, geology is a reasonably specialist field that is typically beyond the realm of cave diving training.
There are submerged caverns all over the globe, but the entrance and infrastructural facilities are sometimes the biggest obstacles for cave divers.
There are always new areas to explore as the sport’s popularity boosts, like:
- United Kingdom
- Czech Republic
Those regions represent some of the most popular destinations for cave divers.
While other places are experiencing rapid growth, they are:
- Papua New Guinea
Usually, caves are located in zones with a lot of limestones.
However, various kinds of caverns are interesting to explore.
6 Types of Underwater Caves Based on Their Formation
You may find something different in an underwater cave and compare it to other caves you have explored.
For example, you find if the cave is under coral or seems to have been formed due to volcanic activity.
So, based on the formation, you will be able to know the type of cave you are in, as follows.
1. Coral Caves
Numerous divers get their first feel of the overhead environment inside coral caves.
Underneath living coral complexes, you could find such structures if a corridor of the sea bottom is enclosed by arching branches of Elkhorn coral and perhaps massive sheets of plate coral.
Spur and groove structures are the names of a few offshore reef types.
With stretching to the beach, this coral ridge is usually interspersed with sand hallways. When corals mature, corals can grow into a canopy. It looked like a tree arching over a country road.
Daylight often enters the cave through small openings but not the long way because it is rare.
The chances of getting lost in the cave are minimal, but other dangers are still associated with this situation.
Paths perpendicular to the shore can be subject to strong waves, which can destroy fragile corals or even hydroids and cause serious injury to divers.
Be careful when visiting these caves as they are also the natural habitat of marine life that may seek refuge here.
When divers turn in a rock cave in a location like the Snapper Hole on the east side of Grand Cayman, they may also face unpredictable risks. Water predators like big sharks can come suddenly, and you wish you weren’t in a dead tunnel.
2. Sea Caves
Since sea caves are found in more than just ocean environments, the name sea cave is somewhat misunderstood.
For example, once wave movement cuts a cleft into something like a rocky escarpment near the water level; this might result in the formation of sea caves.
There is a possibility that sea caves will be submerged at a future time with various water levels.
Because of this, it is common to discover remnant sea caves at enormous depths on walls. For example, the Tongue of the Ocean in the Bahamas formed millions of years ago.
It’s possible to find sea caves in lakes as well.
The North American Great Lakes are incredibly massive. Consequently, they have potent wave action that erodes land at places like the Niagara Escarpment, located close to Tobermory in Ontario, Canada.
Icebergs are another possible environment where sea caves might emerge relatively quickly.
Scuba divers must be aware of powerful waves and tides when exploring active sea caves.
Placing a boat’s anchor inside a sea cave might be dangerous.
Once upon a time, a group of explorers went inside an iceberg sea cave in Antarctica during a quiet day to obtain water samples.
The team was almost trapped to the ceiling when a massive wave smashed through the doorway as they carefully tried to get to the entrance. In this case, divers may have a sense of more excellent safety underwater compared to boaters.
3. Lava Tubes
Volcanic activity sometimes results in cave formation. “lava tube” refers to various of the most familiar volcanic caves.
When lava flows down the side of an active volcano, the surface of the flow begins to cool faster than the inside of the tube it passes through.
The channel is filled with molten lava, which flows through it at high speed. Sometimes it leaves cracks when the eruption stops.
Lava enters the ocean, causing a large gas explosion whenever it encounters water.
These explosions often cause part of the body of water to evaporate.
Once the flow continues below the water level, the outer layer of lava will immediately cool, leaving a tunnel where the lava continues to move down the slope.
Atlantida Tunnel is the name of the tunnel that leads to the globe’s longest reported submerged lava tube cave.
It is located on the island of Lanzarote, off Africa’s west coast. The lava tube stretches for more than seven kilometers, with shattered ceiling openings visible farther down the mountain and a significant amount of it running beneath the ocean’s surface.
4. Fracture Caves
Several caves can be found in various locations, including fault lines with deep fractures.
Diving in such caves is standard on the islands of Andros and Iceland, both popular destinations.
Fractures such as the slump fault can be found parallel to the coast of Andros and are often found only a few hundred meters inland.
In addition, they are also often connected to cave systems of different types.
You can dive into the rift separating the North American and Eurasian continental plates at the Silfra Fracture in Thingvellir National Park in Iceland.
The plates are shifting further and further in this World Heritage Site, little by little, every day.
As you pass through the gaps, you can spread your arms and touch parts of each continent.
The divers carry out their activities in the daylight range from above.
However, natural cave situations have arisen in some areas since large boulders have fallen into fractures, thus forming complex swim-throughs.
Silfra is an area where divers see geological activity, so the landscape constantly changes.
As a result, the unique plants and animals that live in this fantastic location are the subject of much research by scientists.
5. Mine Caves
Cave diving skills are essential for exploring flooded mines due to the complexity of the environment.
Mines, like caves, are famous in Scandinavia and various locations worldwide. But it would help if you also had the same safety concern.
Mines also reflect many of the dangers found in natural caves, apart from those caused by unnatural things hidden within their depths.
6. Dissolution Caves
Over centuries, the deepest and most complex caves can form when natural processes gradually dissolve carbonates and sedimentary rocks, such as dolomite or limestone. These caves can be found in Karst topography, a kind of terrain.
The Slavic region, also known as Dinaric Kras, is where the term “Karst” first appeared. Later the term was Germanized to become Karst, which is currently used to characterize alkaline carbonate regions susceptible to dissolution processes.
Karst topography is characterized by the formation of underground caves by groundwater. As a result, sinkholes, gaps, and fractures often occur in karst areas. In these areas, sinks or springs are often dived by cave divers.
The submerged soil formation provides the basis for the karst landform. Under the Tethys Sea, Florida and the southeastern US have previously been submerged.
The calcified remains of marine organisms accumulated on the seabed throughout the ages and gradually solidified.
After sea levels receded and the Florida peninsula was seen throughout drier epochs, the ecosystem was vulnerable to substantial erosional impacts.
Rainwater begins to seep into the earth when it falls on sedimentary rock, known as percolation. Water carries CO2 from the air and becomes slightly acidic as it descends through micropores in sponge-like limestone bedrock, between rocks and soil grains, and within those spaces.
The amount of sulfate and CO2 absorbed increases the ability of water to dissolve limestone. As a result, water penetrates the earth and dissolves rock by exploiting vulnerable areas such as cracks and fissures.
When water tries to trace the slope of the land from top to bottom to the lowest level, the weakly compressed portions known as bedding planes often dissolve quickly.
Over time, erosion occurs above and below the water table, creating complex subsurface drainage systems.
Drainage tries to take the easy route of resistance. When it encounters an obstacle it cannot cross, such as solid clay particles, drainage may flow over it. Or find its way around it to achieve a more soluble characteristic.
The geological word for the origin of caves is called Speleogenesis. Unfortunately, some people in North Florida wrongly claim that river and spring levels depend on snowmelt in remote locations.
However, through sound scientific studies and thorough survey research, cave divers have contributed to solving watershed problems statewide and locally.
We also know that springs are part of an identifiable area known as a spring shed. The recharge area, meaning the area of influence, can be identified using dye tracing.
Water is trapped deep underground in crevices of porous rock, such as limestone, or spaces between gravel, sand, silt, or clay.
Meanwhile, an aquifer is a group of saturated areas where wells can take groundwater.
The Florida Aquifer, which stretches beneath Florida and parts of Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina, is one of the most abundant sources of water in the entire world.
The Floridan Aquifer groundwater is confined under layers of impermeable sediment due to compression.
Groundwater can become springs if the flow pressure is high enough.
The number of channels leading to the outlet or opening of the spring, their dimensions, and the water pressure in the aquifer are just some of the variables that affect how much water flows from the spring.
The Suwannee, Ichetucknee, Wakulla, Santa Fe, and many other rivers are all born from and supported by the Florida springs, the largest in the world by volume.
Over 600 significant openings, Florida’s springs together release more than 19 billion gallons of fresh water daily.
Based on the size of the discharge, we can categorize the springs. For example, daily water output from first-class springs such as Wakulla, Spring Creek, Weeki Wachee, and Silver Springs is over 65 million gallons (greater than 100 cubic ft/second).
Water discharge volume can change from time to time because it is affected by other factors such as rainfall, weather, aquifer pressure, and well water intake.
The sustainability of threatened springs is now threatened by excessive clearance, displacement, and release of pollutants into watershed streams and terrain.
About 8 billion gallons of water are drawn from Florida aquifers daily for manufacturing, agriculture, and public consumption.
Meanwhile, contaminants, including chemical fertilizers, chemical products, pesticide residues, rainwater runoff, and toxic substances, are all at the same time deposited on the surface of our planet and transported more profoundly into the freshwater reservoirs that feed our eyes.
As ambassadors, cave divers must educate the public about preserving springs.
Opportunities to educate residents, maintain fragile ecosystems, and ensure the availability of fresh water for future generations are provided by cave diving.