When limestone dissolves to form caves, how come the walls, ceiling, and floors of the caves are still there?

instead of dissolving at the same time?

10 Answers

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  • 1 month ago

    Because nothing dissolves instantly. The cave is growing. It's simply growing slowly enough that it can support some rather spectacular mineral growths.

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  • Dale-E
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    It has to do with water seepage, pooling and drainage. When it goes on long enough it will cause a sink hole where the walls and ceiling crumble in.

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  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    That is because the water that dissolves the limestone take the shortest path and they cannot overcome gravity. They cannot climb hills and slopes. So they create holes underground Only a tsunami that continuous poind the limestone for thousands of years nonstop can dissolve all the limestone on top. If you go inside a cave, you see the water flowing at the bottom,. The water cannot rise up to touch the walls and the ceilings of the caves.

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  • 2 months ago

    Basically not enough acid to dissolve everything, and even the caves themselves took many, many years, to dissolve to the point they are at now.

    Each "Packet" of water that comes into contact with the rock only has a certain amount of acid in it.  It can therefore only dissolve a fixed amount of rock before it is "full" of dissolved rock.  More dissolving can only occur when another fresh packet of water replaces the first.  It takes a huge amount of water to dissolve a huge amount of rock.  The volume of water required is many, many times the volume of rock that it attacks.  Water can only take up a very small volume of dissolved rock before becoming "full".

    Acid does not keep attacking forever.  As with any chemical, it gets used up in the process.  Need to add acid to make more reaction happen.  Like adding wood to a fire after the fire dies down.  Need more "fuel" to keep the process happening.

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  • AndyF
    Lv 5
    2 months ago

    Often underground caves are not completely full of water as the water table varies with rain amount and water drawn off by wells. Only areas full of water are dissolving. It could be a cave formed over a long time just by a small amount of moving water dissolving its lower areas making the cave larger and deeper. 

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  • Probably because some limestone have different densities than others so they don't cave in, or maybe it's heterogenous with some other material

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  • 2 months ago

    Simple answer:

    the water moves through cracks and crevices.

    That is: the water follows particular paths

    and does not flow through all of the stone in the cave

    and also not equally through all of the stone in the cave.

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  • 2 months ago

    While limestone does dissolve, it's a slow process. Sugar, for example, dissolves, but there is a limit to how much a certain volume of water can dissolve -- a saturation point.

    Similarly with limestone and other calcium-based minerals: there is a saturation point. So, over time, with enough water flowing through, the whole system would vanish or collapse in on itself. But that takes a very long time and a great deal of solvent (like water).

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  • CRR
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    You're in a cave because a lot of the limestone did dissolve.

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  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    They obviously do, if limestone, but rocks may be formed of other types, so will not erode. 

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