|This is a
basic list of caving terminology used to describe cave features or
caving related items. It is in no way a complete list but gives a
basic overview of terms used particularly in the Southeast United
- Accidental - An animal in a cave accidentally. One that
does not usually live in a cave but is there usually by either
falling, or being washed in. Usually short lived.
- A class of cold blooded vertebrates that which breath by gills
in early stages of life but later develop lungs and some live on
land. Such as Frogs and salamanders.
- Anchor - A secure object used to secure a rope or
safety line used for climbing or rappelling.
- Aquatic - Living in water, such as fish, crayfish,
- Artifact - An item made by humans usually from times
long ago. Such as stone tools, painting, or bones.
- Arthropods - any member of a group of invertebrate
animals that have articulated bodies and jointed legs, such as
spiders, crabs, and insects.
- Ascender - a device used for climbing or ascending a
- Bacon - a thin formation of drip stone that is usually
semi-translucent. the bands of color resemble bacon.
- Bat - a mammal that form the family Chiroptera. The
only member of the mammal family capable of flight.
- Belay - safety technique (or device) used to aid in
rappelling and/or climbing safety.
- Biota - all of the living organism of a specific area (ie
- Breakdown - rocks on a cave floor that were once on the
wall or most often the roof of the cave.
- Carabiner - a oblong mechanical device usually made
from aluminum with a spring loaded loaded clip used in
various ways for rope attachments.
- Carbide - calcium carbide Ca2C, it reacts with water to
form the gas acetylene used as a lighting source by cavers and
- Carbide Lamp - light source that utilizes carbide and
water to make acetylene gas that is burned to make light.
- Carbonic Acid - H2C03 is a weak unstable acid often
found in ground water and is responsible for the formation of
- Carnivorous - an animal that feeds on other animals.
- Cave - a natural cavity in the earth large enough to be
entered by people and at least 50' in length.
- Cave Cricket - an insect often found in caves or other
dark places such as crawl spaces under houses. They feed on
plant mater in the cave or just outside the entrances.
- Cave Flower - common name often used to describe
formation Gypsum flowers.
- Cave Nazi - term used to describe extremist in the
caving world, often associated with caving grottos. These nazi's
are often forceful in their ways regardless of facts regarding
the specific issues.
- Cave Pearl - a smooth, rounded formation found in small
shallow pools where water drips.
- Cave System - a collection of caves linked either
hydrologically or by entrances.
- Cavern - usually used to describe a larger than average
- Chasm - a wide elongated gap in a cave floor.
- Claustrophobia - the fear of being in a closed space.
- Column - a formation made by the joining of a
stalactite and a stalagmite, or when either grow to meet the
floor or ceiling.
- Fissure - an open crack in soil or rock.
- Flowstone - a formation formed by mineralized water
flowing over rocks or soil.
- Fluorescein - an organic die used in tracing ground
water. The reddish-yellow dye is detectable in minute
- Fluorometer - an instrument used for measuring
fluorescence of water used in ground water tracing.
- Formations - a general term used to describe cave
growths such as stalactites and stalagmites.
- Fossil - the remains of plants or animals preserved in
rock or sediments.
- Gallery - a room in a cave often with numerous
- Gibbs - an ascender operated by the weight of the
- Glacier Cave - a cave formed within or under a glacier.
- GPS - 'Global positioning System' an instrument used to
compute locations in longitude and latitude.
- Grotto - a highly decorated but modest size room in a
cave. Also a term used to denote organizations, groups or clubs
- Guano - dung or feces usually from bats.
- Gypsum - hydrated calcium sulphate CaSO4·2H2O
- Gypsum Flower - a formation of a curving deposit of
Gypsum on a cave surface.
- Halite - sodium chloride NaC1 may form as decorations
or formations in dry caves.
- Hall - a large chamber that is longer than it is wide.
- Harness - a safety device used for safely ascending or
descending a rope. Usually either a 'seat harness' or a 'chest
- Headlamp - Flashlight,
light source that, that is worn on your head or a helmet.
- Helmet - a safety device for protecting your head. Also
used to attach lights to.
- Herbivore - a plant eating animal.
- Hibernaculum - a place where bats hibernate for the winter.
- Ice Cave - a normal cave that has either perennial or
permanent ice in it.
- Jumar - a brand of ascender.
- Live Cave - a cave with flowing water and/or active
- Overhang - a rock shelter or cut under of a cliff that
does not actually form a cave.
- Radon - an inert radioactive gas that tends to
concentrate in caves and other underground places such as
- Rappel - a method of descending a rope using specialty
devices such as harness and descend er.
- Stalactite - a formation hanging or growing down from
the ceiling of a cave, usually conical in shape.
- Stalagmite - a formation growing up vertically from the
cave floor often directly under a stalactite.
- Straw - a thin walled stalactite formation that is
hollow in the center giving it a drinking straw appearance.
- Wet Suit - neoprene clothing used in or under water to help
insulate it's wearer from cold water.