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Rural land resources

Underground features


Cave, Slovenia

Large caverns can form underground in carboniferous limestone landscapes. They form when chemical solution is more active. They can be enlarged by erosion from rocks and stones carried by underground streams and waterfalls.

Inside the cave are a number of distinctive features, which have formed over hundreds of years. They are all the result of water permeating the rock and dissolving the limestone.

Stalactities, straw stalactities, stalagmites and pillar

Dripstone features

  • As drips appear from joints in the roof, carbon dioxide is lost from the lime-rich solution leaving calcite (calcium carbonate). The calcite builds up to form a stalactite hanging from the roof, like an icicle.
  • As drips land on the floor again carbon dioxide leaves and calcite deposits form a stalagmite. Because they build up this way, stalagmites are more rounded in appearance.
  • Rock pillars form where stalactites and stalagmites meet.
  • Straw stalactites are hollow and often appear like curtains hanging from the roof.


Limestone scenery in the Yorkshire Dales.

Class Clips

How the weathering of limestone rock has shaped areas of the Yorkshire Dales

Watch the following clips for more on upland limestone:

Chemical weathering by solution in upland limestone scenery

Upland limestone drainage feature


Human use of glaciated areas

Try something different - download this Audio Bite (mp3). You can also download the transcript too (pdf, 32.4 kB).

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