Caves & Caverns are a fantastic way to study geology! Visiting local caves & caverns can be a great hands-on way to study the formations of Earth’s rocks. Check out these fantastic resources including books and hands-on activities!
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Learning about Caves & Caverns at Ruby Falls
If you live in the southeastern region of the United States, then more than likely you’ve heard of Ruby Falls, Tennessee. This unique underground waterfall and limestone cavern is a favorite destination for many families. We’ve passed by it for years, but we finally made the stop and visited on our last trip back from Atlanta. Wow, what an amazing experience! We learned tons about the different speleothems or cave formations such as stalactites, and stalagmites, plus so much about cave and cavern formations. Did you know there is even a flowstone called Bacon? Seriously, it looked like a slab of BACON hanging from the ceiling! How amazing is that!
Fun Facts about the Caves & Caverns of Ruby Falls
- In 1928 Chemist and Cave enthusiast, Leo Lambert, discovered Ruby Falls and its connecting caverns while trying to drill a new opening into the Lookout Mountain Cave on Lookout Mountain.
- He named Ruby Falls after his wife Ruby Lambert.
- The Falls are located at the end of the main passage of Ruby Falls Cavern, in a large vertical shaft.
- The Falls are 1120 ft. underground!
- Ruby Falls is considered a cavern because it has no natural opening above ground. This also prevents it from being inhabited by normal cave-dwelling creatures.
- The water of the falls has large concentrations of magnesium which is leached from the mountain. This makes the water a natural laxative!
- Ruby Falls features many of the more well-known types of cave formations including stalactites, stalagmites, columns, drapery, and flowstone.
We even got to touch the cave formations that were no longer actively growing!!!! This big one was called the “Dripping Candle.”
Learning about Caves & Caverns at Ruby Falls
We learned an insane amount about the subterranean world of caves and caverns while visiting Ruby Falls. These caverns are gorgeous and amazing to behold. The kids were in awe and delight the whole time we were underground…that just sounds exciting doesn’t it?
It’s even more exciting when you know you’re 1,120 ft. underground. If you happen to pass through Chattanooga, Tennessee, then I highly recommend stopping for a quick tour. It only takes an hour and a half and it’s always a comfortable 60 degrees! You’ll be so glad you did!
Additional Fun Cave & Cavern Facts
- A cave or cavern is a naturally occurring space or chamber under the surface of the Earth
- A cavern is a special type of cave that is larger, consists of a series of smaller caves with connecting passages, and with its opening located underground. All caverns are caves but not all caves are caverns.
- The scientific study of caves and their surrounding environments is called Speleology.
- The world’s longest cave system is Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, USA, 651.8 km (405 miles)
- The deepest known cave is Voronya Cave, Abkhazia, Georgia, 2,197 m (7,208 ft.)
Learn more about Caves & Caverns
If you want to study the mysterious world of caves or perhaps you don’t have a nearby cave to visit, then here are some geology books and resources that we used to help us learn more about this underground environment.
BBC Video Planet Earth: Caves/Deserts/Ice Worlds narrated by David Attenborough – Enjoy this family-friendly documentary as you are transported to the highest mountains and deepest caves on Earth. This series takes you on an unforgettable journey through the daily struggle for survival in Earth’s most extreme habitats. If you can’t get out to visit a cave, then this documentary is the next best thing!
Caves by Kimberly Hutmacher – Dark hollows form deep underground. Caves create underground rooms of discovery. What mysteries are hidden inside these landforms?
Cave by Donald Silver – From the wriggly-one-celled bacterium to a sleeping grizzly bear, the cave is alive with activity and musty with history. Detailed illustrations and safe activities shed light on a mysterious habitat, complete with creepers, crawlers, swimmers, and fliers–hooters, buzzers, and growlers!
Caves and Caverns by Gail Gibbons – Here is a fascinating journey through those dark, mysterious hollow places on earth–sea caves, lava caves, ice caves, and more.
Caves (Nature in Action) by Stephen Kramer – captivate your readers, by stirring their interest in science with these dramatic photographs of the powerful effects of nature in caves.
Caves by Cassie Meyer – In this book, children learn about the features of caves, where caves are found, and what makes caves unique.
Cave Unit Study by Susan Evans
More Great Resources for Learning about Caves, Caverns, and Earth Science!
Tell me, are there any local caves or caverns where you live?
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