The Bahamas has long been the study of geologists from around the world. Geologists are drawn here for studies because of the Bahamas’ tectonic stability. The islands are calcium carbonate with many interesting karst features, including banana holes, karren, blueholes and caves.
Caves are useful in helping to determine the geological history of an area. Rocks and deposits become markers for events. Abaco has a wide variety of caves to explore from the caves all the way south at Hole in the Wall to the caves all the way north on Little Abaco.
In fact there are three types of caves that are abundant here – flank margin caves, pit caves and tafoni caves. Tafoni caves form when the soft interior of a ridge is exposed to erosion, often in coastal areas. Pit caves form as fast flow routes to the fresh water lens, usually form on ridges and are characterized by their nearly vertical drops. Flank margin caves are formed beneath the earth’s surface due to breakdown in the fresh water lens and form complex horizontal chambers.
They were the first type of cave recognized in the Bahamas.
There are many cave formations but here are a few that occur widely in the Abaco caves: Keyhole passages can be formed in Flank Margin caves from streams flowing through the cave as sea level drops, forming the keyhole shape. Stalactites and stalagmites are icicle like formations that form on the ceiling or floor, respectively, of caves. They are formed by mineral deposits in water dripping from the cave ceiling and are found mostly in limestone caves, such as the ones here in Abaco. They usually grow about an inch every century!
Does any of this sound interesting? Want to go exploring right now, maybe get your hands a little dirty? Then spelunking (a fancy way of saying cave exploring) is for you! Be sure to remember your flashlight and go with someone who has visited the cave before.
Stay tuned for Abaco Caves – Part 2: Cave Critters.