This presentation of
has been extracted from

1997 Edition


Prepared by
Marjorie Coggan
Peter Nicholson

Commission on Administration
March 1997

Copyright © Australian Speleological Federation Inc. 1997


J. N. Jennings

Republished in ASF Administrative Handbook (1997)
As published in Australian Karst Index 1985
First published in ASF Newsletter 83 (1979)
Replaces list in Speleo Handbook (1968)


This list of terms is substantially longer than that included in Speleo Handbook (1968). The increase reflects the greater depth and breadth of interest of Australian speleologists in caves and their surroundings. It remains a highly selective list of terms recommended for use in particular ways by Australians and it does not purport to gather comprehensively actual usage, good, bad and indifferent. For more complete collections of terms the following publications are the most useful:
W.H. Monroe1970A Glossary of Karst Terminology. U.S. Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1899K.
H. Trimmel1965Speläologisches Fachwörterbuch. Third International Speleological Congress. Vol. C.
P. Fénelon1968Vocabulaire français des phénomènes karstiques. Mémoirs et Documents du Centre
Documentaire Cartographique et Géographique
, 4: 193-282.
C.A. Hill1976Cave Minerals. National Speleological Society, Huntsville.

English equivalents of foreign terms have been preferred except where the latter have long-established and agreed usage or where there is no precise counterpart in English. Amongst English words, simple Anglo-Saxon words are preferred to new inventions from Greek and Latin roots. Some terms which have markedly conflicting and confusing usages either within Australia or abroad or between Australia and abroad are omitted as the best deterrent to their further employment here. A very few terms not yet in common use have been introduced where these offer the opportunity of avoiding conflicting usages of other words which need to be retained despite this. A preliminary list was circulated to the ASF clubs and to a number of individuals for comment. The final list reflects very much suggestions from and discussions with the following:

E.G. Anderson, W.J. Counsell, J.R. Dunkley, Julia M. James, G.S. Hunt, D.C. Lowry, P.G. Matthews, N. Montgomery, G.J. Middleton, A. Pavey, Aola M. Richards, T.M. Wigley, and the National University Caving Club.

It must not be thought, however, that these helpers agree with the composition of the list or with every definition. Nor in a sense do I since I have allowed my own opinion to be overruled in many cases, though I have dug my toes in over some. No selection will please everybody, still less the meanings given to those chosen, but to assemble all terms and usages would not only result in a volume to itself but might confuse more cavers than it would assist.

Abbreviations and conventions

Syn.=synonym (word with same meaning)
Cf.=confer (compare) with the following term which is not identical but related to it.

A word in brackets in the left-hand column is commonly used in conjunction with the preceding word without altering the meaning.

A word in bold is defined elsewhere in this list.

Square brackets [ ] enclose statements not part of the definition but for special reasons included in the list.


ABNEY LEVELA type of clinometer with a bubble tube used in cave survey to determine vertical angles.
ABSEIL (n.)A controlled descent of a rope using friction obtained by: (1) wrapping the rope around the body in a particular way or (2) passing the rope through a karabiner or (3) passing the rope through a descender.
ABSEIL (v.)To do an abseil.
ACCIDENTAL (n.)An animal accidentally living in a cave.
ACETYLENEAn inflammable hydrocarbon gas, C2H2, produced by water reacting with calcium carbide. When burnt, yields carbon dioxide as well as light.
ACTIVE CAVEA cave which has a stream flowing in it. Cf. live cave.
ADAPTATIONAn inherited characteristic of an organism in structure, function or behaviour which makes it better able to survive and reproduce in a particular environment. Lengthening of appendages, loss of pigment and modification of eyes are considered adaptations to the dark zone of caves.
AGGRESSIVEReferring to water which is still capable of dissolving more limestone, other karst rock, or speleothems.
ANASTOMOSISA mesh of tubes or half-tubes.
ANCHORA fixed object used to secure a man whilst operating a safety rope or for attaching equipment such as ladders or ropes.
ARAGONITEA less common crystalline form of calcium carbonate than calcite, denser and orthorhombic.
ARTEFACTA product of human manufacture or art, e.g. tools of bone, stone, etc., paintings, engravings. In caves, tools are often buried in sediment. [Scientific attention should be drawn to the finding of artefacts in caves.]
ARTHROPODSThe most common group of animals inhabiting caves, including insects, crustaceans, spiders, millipedes, etc. They have jointed limbs and external skeletons.
ASCENDERA mechanical device for ascending ropes.
ASSOCIATIONA relatively stable community of different species living in a characteristic habitat.
AZIMUTHThe true bearing of a survey line, determined by measurement from an accurate survey or by observations of sun or stars.
BARE KARSTKarst with much exposed bedrock.
BATA member of the order Chiroptera, the only mammals capable of true flight as they have membranes between the toes of their forefeet.
BATHYPHREATICReferring to water moving with some speed through downward looping passages in the phreatic zone.
BEARINGThe angle measured clockwise that a line makes with the north line. True, magnetic and grid bearings are measured respectively from true, magnetic and grid north.
BEDA depositional layer of sedimentary bedrock or unconsolidated sediment.
BEDDING-GRIKEA narrow, rectilinear slot in a karst rock outcrop due to solution along a bedding-plane.
BEDDING-PLANEA surface separating two beds, usually planar.
BEDDING-PLANE CAVEA cavity developed along a bedding-plane and elongate in cross-section as a result.
BELAY(1) To attach to an anchor. (2) To operate a safety line.
BIOSPELEOLOGYThe scientific study of organisms living in caves.
BLIND SHAFTA vertical extension upwards from part of a cave but not reaching the surface; small in area in relation to its height.
BLIND VALLEYA valley that is closed abruptly at its lower end by a cliff or slope facing up the valley. It may have a perennial or intermittent stream which sinks at its lower end or it may be a dry valley.
BLOWHOLE(1) A hole to the surface in the roof of a sea cave through which waves force air and water. (2) A hole in the ground through which air blows in and out strongly, sometimes audibly; common in the Nullarbor Plain.
BOLTA high tensile steel bolt used as an anchor; either a conical bolt screwed into a metal holder in a hole drilled in rock, causing expansion for grip, or a bolt with partially filed thread hammered into a slightly smaller hole.
BONE BRECCIAA breccia containing many bone fragments. [Scientific attention should be drawn to the finding of such in caves.]
BRAKE BARA round bar hinged to a karabiner or rappel rack used for abseiling.
BRANCHWORKA dendritic system of underground streams or passages wherein branches join successively to form a major stream or passage.
BREAKDOWNFall of rock from roof or wall of a cave.
BRECCIAAngular fragments of rock and/or fossils cemented together or with a matrix of finer sediment. Cf. bone breccia.
BRUNTON COMPASSA type of compass, with a hinged mirror, which can be held in the hand or mounted on a tripod and which includes a clinometer. Designed also for measuring rock dip and strike.
CALCITEThe commonest calcium carbonate (CaCO3) mineral and the main constituent of limestone, with different crystal forms in the rhombohedral subsystem.
CANOPYA compound speleothem consisting of a flowstone cover of a bedrock projection and of a fringe of stalactites or shawls on the outer edge.
CANYON(1) A deep valley with steep to vertical walls; in karst frequently formed by a river rising on impervious rocks outside the karst area. (2) A deep, elongated cavity cut by running water in the roof or floor of a cave or forming a cave passage.
CARBIDECalcium carbide, CaC2, used with water to make acetylene in lamps.
CAVEA natural cavity in rock large enough to be entered by man. It may be water-filled. If it becomes full of ice or sediment and is impenetrable, the term applies but will need qualification.
CAVE BLISTERAn almost perfect hemisphere of egg-shell calcite.
CAVE BREATHING(1) Movement of air in and out of a cave entrance at intervals. (2) The associated air currents within the cave.
CAVE CORALVery small speleothems consisting of short stalks with bulbous ends, usually occurring in numbers in patches.
CAVE EARTHClay, silt, fine sand and/or humus deposited in a cave.
CAVE ECOLOGYThe study of the interaction between cave organisms and their environment, e.g. energy input from surface, climatic influences.
CAVE FILLTransported materials such as silt, clay, sand and gravel which cover the bedrock floor or partially or wholly block some part of a cave.
CAVE FLOWERSyn. gypsum flower.
CAVE PEARLA smooth, polished and rounded speleothem found in shallow hollows into which water drips. Internally has concentric layers around a nucleus.
CAVE POSTULEA white, hemispherical wall and roof deposit of calcite.
CAVE SPRINGA natural flow of water from rock or sediment inside a cave.
CAVE SYSTEMA collection of caves interconnected by enterable passages or linked hydrologically or a cave with an extensive complex of chambers and passages.
CAVERNICOLEAn animal which normally lives in caves for the whole or part of its life cycle.
CAVINGThe entering and exploration of caves.
CAVERNA very large chamber within a cave.
CENOTEA partly water-filled, wall-sided doline.
CHAMBERThe largest order of cavity in a cave, with considerable width and length but not necessarily great height.
CHERTA light grey to black or red rock, which fractures irregularly, composed of extremely fine crystalline silica and often occurring as nodules or layers in limestone.
CHIMNEYA vertical or nearly vertical opening in a cave, narrow enough to be climbed by chimneying.
CHIMNEYING Ascending or descending by means of opposed body and/or limb pressures against two facing walls.
CHOCKA block of metal for use as a chockstone.
CHOCKSTONEA rock wedged between two fixed rock surfaces.
CHOKERock debris or cave fill blocking part of a cave.
CLAUSTROPHOBIAAn irrational fear of being in a closed space.
CLINOMETERAn instrument for measuring vertical angles or angles of dip.
CLOGGERA type of ascender without a handle; used with a karabiner to keep it securely on the rope.
CLOSED TRAVERSEA traverse which begins and ends at survey points with known co-ordinates and orientation or at the same point.
COCKPIT KARSTConekarst in which the residual hills are chiefly hemispheroidal and the closed depressions often lobate.
COLUMNA speleothem from floor to ceiling, formed by the growth of a stalactite and a stalagmite to join, or by the growth of either to meet bedrock.
COMPASSAn instrument with a magnetic needle which is free to point to magnetic north. For survey the needle is either attached to a graduated card or can be read against a graduated circle to measure the angle in degrees from the north clockwise.
CONEKARSTKarst, usually tropical, dominated by its projecting residual relief rather than by its closed depressions.
CONDUITAn underground stream course completely filled with water and under hydrostatic pressure or a circular or elliptical passage inferred to have been such a stream course.
COPROLITEFossilized large excrement of animals, sometimes found in caves, especially those used as lairs.
COPROPHAGEA scavenger which feeds on animal dung, including guano.
CORRASIONThe wearing away of bedrock or loose sediment by mechanical action of moving agents, especially water.
CORROSIONSyn. solution.
COVERED KARSTKarst where the bedrock is mainly concealed by soil or superficial deposits.
CRAWL (WAY)A passage which must be negotiated on hands and knees. Cf. flattener.
CROSS-SECTIONA section of a cave passage or a chamber across its width.
CRYPTOZOAThe assemblage of small terrestrial animals found living in darkness beneath stones, logs, bark, etc. Potential colonizers of caves.
CRYSTAL POOLA cave pool generally with little or no overflow, containing well-formed crystals.
CURRENT MARKINGShallow asymmetrical hollows formed by solution by turbulent waterflow and distributed regularly over karst rock surfaces. Cf. scallop.
CURTAINA speleothem in the form of a wavy or folded sheet hanging from the roof or wall of a cave, often translucent and resonant.
DARK ZONE The part of a cave which daylight does not reach.
DARK ADAPTATIONA change in the retina of the eye sensitising it to dim light (the eye 'becomes accustomed to the dark'). Loss of sensitivity on re-exposure to brighter light is 'light adaptation'.
DAYLIGHT HOLEAn opening to the surface in the roof of a cave.
DEAD CAVEA cave without streams or drips of water.
DECLINATIONThe angle from true (or grid) north to magnetic north for a given time and place.
DECOMPOSERSLiving things, chiefly bacteria and fungi, that live by extracting energy from tissues of dead animals and plants.
DECORATIONCave features due to secondary mineral precipitation, usually of calcite. Syn. speleothem.
DESCENDERA mechanical device for descending ropes.
DEVELOPED SECTIONThe result of straightening out a section composed of several parts with differing directions into one common plane. Usually the plane is vertical and the length of the section equals the plan lengths of the passages and chambers comprising it.
DIGAn excavation made (1) to discover or extend a cave or (2) to uncover artefacts or animal bones.
DIPThe angle at which beds are inclined from the horizontal. The true dip is the maximum angle of the bedding planes at right angles to the strike. Lesser angles in other directions are apparent dips.
DOG-TOOTH SPARA variety of calcite with acute-pointed crystals.
DOLINEA closed depression draining underground in karst, of simple but variable form, e.g. cylindrical, conical, bowl- or dish-shaped. From a few to many hundreds of metres in dimensions.
DOLINE KARSTKarst dominated by closed depressions, chiefly dolines, perforating a simple surface.
DOLOMITE(1) A mineral consisting of the double carbonate of magnesium and calcium, CaMg(CO3)2. (2) A rock made chiefly of dolomite mineral.
DOMAINA biological region of the earth's crust.
DOMEA large hemispheroidal hollow in the roof of a cave, formed by the breakdown and/or salt weathering, generally in mechanically weak rocks, which prevents bedding and joints dominating the form.
DONGA In the Nullarbor Plain a shallow, closed depression, several metres deep and hundreds of metres across, with a flat clay-loam floor and very gentle slopes.
DRIPHOLEA hole formed by water dripping onto the cave floor.
DRIPLINEA line on the ground at a cave entrance formed by drips from the rock above. Useful in cave survey to define the beginning of the cave.
DRIPSTONEA deposit formed from drops falling from cave roofs or walls, usually of calcite.
DRY CAVEA cave without a running stream. Cf. dead cave.
DRY VALLEYA valley without a surface stream channel.
DUCK (-UNDER)A place where water is at or close to the cave roof for a short distance so that it can only be passed by submersion.
DUNE LIMESTONESyn. eolian calcarenite.
DYE GAUGINGDetermining stream discharge by inserting a known quantity of dye and measuring its concentration after mixing.
DYNAMIC PHREASA phreatic zone or part of a phreatic zone where water moves fast with turbulence under hydrostatic pressure.
EASTING(1) The distance of a point east of the point of origin of the grid of a map or some abbreviation of it. (2) The west-east component of a survey leg, or of a series of legs or of a complete traverse; east is positive and west is negative.
ECCENTRICA speleothem of abnormal shape or attitude. Cf. helictite.
ENDOGEANPertaining to the domain immediately beneath the ground surface, i.e. in the soil or plant litter.
EOLIAN CALCARENITEA limestone formed on land by solution and redeposition of calcium carbonate in coastal dune sands containing a large proportion of calcareous sand from mollusc shells and other organic remains.
EPIGEANPertaining to the biological domain at the surface or above it.
EPIPHREATICReferring to water moving with some speed in the top of the phreatic zone or in the zone liable to be temporarily in flood time part of the phreatic zone.
EROSIONThe wearing away of bedrock or sediment by mechanical and chemical actions of all moving agents such as rivers, wind and glaciers at the surface or in caves.
EXSURGENCEA spring fed only by percolation water.
FAULT A fracture separating two parts of a once continuous rock body with relative movement along the fault plane.
FAULT CAVEA cave developed along a fault or fault zone, either by movement of the fault or by preferential solution along it.
FAULT PLANEA plane along which movement of a fault has taken place.
FISSURE An open crack in rock or soil.
FISSURE CAVEA narrow, vertical cave passage, often developed along a joint but not necessarily so. Usually due to solution but sometimes to tension.
FLATTENERA passage, which, though wide, is so low that movement is only possible in a prone position.
FLOE CALCITEVery thin flakes of calcite floating on the surface of a cave pool or previously formed in this way.
FLOWSTONEA deposit formed from thin films or trickles of water over floors or walls, usually of calcite. Cf. travertine.
FLUORESCEINA reddish-yellow organic dye which gives a green fluorescence to water. Detectable in very dilute solutions so used in water tracing and dye gauging in the form of the salt, sodium fluorescein.
FLUOROMETERAn instrument for measuring the fluorescence of water; used in water tracing and dye gauging.
FORESTRY COMPASSA lightweight, compact instrument to be mounted on a tripod, which functions as a compass and a clinometer, and has a telescopic sight. Some types facilitate measurement of horizontal angles as well as bearings.
FOSSILThe remains or traces of animals or plants preserved in rocks or sediments.
FREE PITCHWhere a rope or ladder hangs vertically and free of the walls.
FREE-SURFACE STREAMA cave stream which does not normally fill its passage to the roof.
GARDENINGClearing stones or other loose material from a route, usually a pitch, which might otherwise be dangerous to a caver continuing.
GIBBSAn ascender with its cam operated by the weight of the caver.
GLACIER CAVEA cave formed within or beneath a glacier.
GOURSyn. rimstone dam.
GRADEThe class of a cave survey on the basis of the precision of the instruments and the accuracy of the methods.
GRIDA system of squares on a map formed by straight lines which represent progressive distances east and north of a fixed point of origin.
GRID NORTHThe direction of a north-south grid line on a map. Except for the north-south grid line through the point of origin of the grid, it will differ slightly from true north.
GRIKEA deep, narrow, vertical or steeply inclined, rectilinear slot in a rock outcrop due to solution along a joint.
GROTTOA room in a cave of moderate dimensions but richly decorated.
GROUNDWATERSyn. phreatic water.
GUANOLarge accumulations of dung, often partly mineralized, including rock fragments, animal skeletal material and products of reactions between excretions and rock. In caves, derived from bats and to a lesser extent from birds.
GUANOBIAAn animal association feeding on guano. Not considered true cavernicoles as guano is not confined to caves.
GYPSUMThe mineral hydrated calcium sulphate, CaSO4.2H2O.
GYPSUM FLOWERAn elongated and curving deposit of gypsum on a cave surface.
HALF-BLIND VALLEYA blind valley which overflows its threshold when the stream sink cannot accept all the water at a time of flood.
HALF-TUBEA semi-cylindrical, elongate recess in a cave surface, often meandering or anastomosing.
HALITEThe sodium chloride mineral, NaCl, in the cubic crystalline system.
HALLA lofty chamber considerably longer than it is wide.
HARNESSAn arrangement of tape for attaching the lower body (seat harness) or the upper (chest harness) to ascenders or descenders.
HELICTITEA speleothem, which at one or more stages of its growth changes its axis from the vertical to give a curving or angular form.
HELMETA miner's, climber's or other kind of non-metallic, protective helmet used in caving.
HISTOPLASMOSISA lung disease which may be caught from the guano of some caves, caused by a fungus, Histoplasmosis capsulatum. Usually mild in effect, it can be fatal in rare cases.
HORIZONTAL ANGLEThe difference in direction of two survey lines measured clockwise in a horizontal plane.
HYDROSTATIC PRESSUREThe pressure due to a column of water.
HYPOGEANPertaining to the domain below the endogean, including the dark zone of caves.
ICE CAVEA cave with perennial ice in it.
INFLOW CAVEA cave into which a stream enters or is known to have entered formerly but which cannot be followed downstream to the surface.
INTERSTITIAL MEDIUMSpaces between grains of sand or fine gravel filled with water which contains phreatobia.
INVERTED SIPHONA siphon of U-profile.
JOINTA planar or gently-curving crack separating two parts of once continuous rock without relative movement along its plane.
JOINT-PLANE CAVEA cavity developed along a joint and elongate in cross-section.
JUMARAn ascender with a simple finger-operated safety catch, a handle and several attachment points.
KANKAR(pronounced kunkar) A deposit, often nodular, of calcium carbonate formed in soils of semi-arid regions. Sometimes forms cave roofs.
KARABINERA steel or other alloy, oval- or D-shaped link with a spring-loaded gate on one side to admit a rope or to clip to a ladder, piton, etc.
KARRENThe minor forms of karst due to solution of rock on the surface or underground.
KARSTTerrain with special landforms and drainage characteristics due to greater solubility of certain rocks in natural waters than is common. Derived from the geographical name of part of Slovenia.
KARST WINDOWA closed depression, not a polje, which has a stream flowing across its bottom.
KERNMANTEL ROPEA rope with a plaited sheath around a core of parallel or twisted strands.
KEYHOLE (PASSAGE)A small passage or opening in a cave, which is round above and narrow below.
KRABColloquial abbreviation of karabiner.
LADDERIn caving, a flexible, lightweight ladder of galvanized or stainless steel wires and aluminium alloy rungs.
LAKEIn caving, a body of standing water in a cave, but used for what would be called a pond or pool on the surface.
LAVA-CAVEA cave in a lava flow; usually a tube or tunnel formed by flow of liquid lava through a solidified mass, or by roofing of an open channel of flowing lava. Small caves in lava also form as gas blisters.
LAYThe way in which strands of a rope or cable are twisted.
LEADA passage noticed but as yet unexplored.
LEAD-ACID CELLA rechargeable acid battery for use with an electric cap lamp.
LEADERIn caving, the person directing the activities of a caving party, especially with regard to safety.
LEGA part of a survey traverse between two successive stations.
LEUCOPHORA colourless water tracer, which fluoresces blue.
LIMESTONEA sedimentary rock consisting mainly of calcium carbonate, CaCO3.
LINTEL LINEA line on the ground at a cave entrance perpendicularly beneath the outer edge of the rock above; may or may not coincide with the dripline.
LIQUID MEDIUMContains the aquatic cavernicoles.
LIVE CAVEA cave containing a stream or active speleothems.
LONGITUDINAL (or LONG) SECTIONA section along the length of a cave passage or chamber or combination of these, or along a survey traverse in a cave.
MAGNETIC NORTHThe direction to the north magnetic pole at a given place and time. This differs from the direction towards which the north end of a compass points by a small individual compass error and by the effect of any local magnetic attraction.
MARBLELimestone recrystallized and hardened by pressure and heat.
MAZESyn. network.
MEANDERAn arcuate curve in a river course due to a stream eroding sideways.
MEANDER NICHEA hemispherically-roofed part of a cave formed by a stream meandering and cutting down at the same time.
MICROCLIMATEThe climate (i.e. temperature, humidity, air movements, etc.) of a restricted area or space, e.g. of a cave or on a lesser scale of the space beneath stones in a cave.
MICROGOURMiniature rimstone dams with associated tiny pools of the order of 1cm wide and deep on flowstone.
MOONMILKSyn. Rockmilk. A soft, white plastic speleothem consisting of calcite, hydrocalcite, hydromagnesite or huntite.
MUD PENDULITEA pendulite with the knob coated in mud.
NATURAL ARCH An arch of rock formed by weathering.
NATURAL BRIDGEA bridge of rock spanning a ravine or valley and formed by erosive agents.
NECROPHAGEA scavenger feeding on animal carcasses (not prey).
NETWORKA complex pattern of repeatedly connecting passages in a cave.
NIFE CELLA rechargeable alkaline battery for use with an electric cap lamp.
NORTHING(1) The distance of a point north of the point of origin of the grid of a map, or some abbreviation of it. (2) The south-north component of a survey leg, or of a series of legs, or of a complete traverse; north is positive and south is negative.
NOTHEPHREATICReferring to water moving slowly in cavities in the phreatic zone.
NUMBERINGAssigning an alphanumeric index to a cave entrance.
OPEN TRAVERSEA traverse which does not close onto a survey point of known co-ordinates and orientation or onto itself.
ORIENTATIONThe relationship of a survey line to true, grid or magnetic north.
OUTFLOW CAVEA cave from which a stream flows or formerly did so and which cannot be followed upstream to the surface.
PASSAGEA cavity which is much longer than it is wide or high and may join larger cavities.
PARIETAL (ASSOCIATION)Animals found on walls around cave entrances.
PENDANTSyn. rock pendant.
PENDULITEA kind of stalactite which has been partly submerged and the submerged part covered with dog-tooth spar to give the appearance of a drumstick.
PERCOLATION WATERWater moving mainly downwards through pores, cracks and tight fissures in the vadose zone.
PERMEABILITYThe property of rock or soil permitting water to pass through it. Primary permeability depends on interconnecting pores between the grains of the material. Secondary permeability depends on solutional widening of joints and bedding planes and on other solution cavities in the rock.
PHREASSyn. phreatic zone.
PHREATIC WATERWater below the level at which all voids in the rock are completely filled with water.
PHREATIC ZONE Zone where voids in the rock are completely filled with water.
PHREATOBIAAn animal association found in water separating grains of sand or fine gravel.
PILLARA bedrock column from roof to floor left by removal of surrounding rock.
PIPEA tubular cavity projecting as much as several metres down from the surface into karst rocks and often filled with earth, sand, gravel, breccia, etc.
PITCHA vertical or nearly vertical part of a cave for which ladders or ropes are normally used for descent or ascent.
PITONA solid or folded metal spike, of steel or other alloy, to be driven into a crack in the rock to form an anchor.
PLANA plot of the shape and details of a cave projected vertically onto a horizontal plane at a reduced scale.
PLUNGE POOLA swirlhole, generally of large size, occurring at the foot of a waterfall or rapid, on the surface or underground.
POLJEA large closed depression draining underground, with a flat floor across which there may be an intermittent or perennial stream and which may be liable to flood and become a lake. The floor makes a sharp break with parts of surrounding slopes.
POLYGONAL KARSTKarst completely pitted by closed depressions so that divides between them form a crudely polygonal network.
POOL DEPOSIT(1) Any sediment which accumulated in a pool in a cave. (2) Crystalline deposits precipitated in a cave pool, usually of crystalline shape as well as structure.
POPULATIONIndividuals of a species in a given locality which potentially form a single interbreeding group separated by physical barriers from other such populations (e.g. populations of the same species in two quite separate caves).
POROSITYThe property of rock or soil of having small voids between the constituent particles. The voids may not interconnect.
POT (-HOLE)A vertical or nearly vertical shaft or chimney open to the surface.
PREDATORAn animal which captures other animals for its food.
PRISMATIC COMPASSA compass with a prism attached so that the compass card can be read at the same time as the compass is directed into the line of sight to a distance point.
PROJECTED SECTIONThe result of projecting a section composed of several parts with differing directions onto a single plane. Usually the plane is vertical along the general trend of the cave. The horizontal distance apart of points is not correct, only the vertical, so that slopes are distorted.
PRUSIK KNOTA friction knot which will slide along the rope when no weight is applied but grips when a pull is exerted on it. Used for ascending ropes.
PRUSIK SLINGA sling fastened by a prusik knot to the rope.
PRUSIKINGAscent on a rope using prusik knots or ascenders.
PSEUDOKARSTTerrain with landforms which resemble those of karst but which are not the product of karst processes.
RAPPELSyn. abseil.
RAPPEL RACKA descender consisting of a frame mounting 5 or 6 brake bars.
RESURGENCEA spring where a stream, which has a course on the surface higher up, reappears at the surface.
RHODAMINEA red organic dye which gives a red fluorescence to water. Detectable in very dilute solutions so used in water tracing and dye gauging.
RIFTA long, narrow, high and straight cave passage controlled by planes of weakness in the rock. Cf. fissure.
RIMSTONEA deposit formed by precipitation from water flowing over the rim of a pool.
RIMSTONE DAMA ridge or rib of rimstone, often curved convexly downstream.
RIMSTONE POOLA pool held up by a rimstone dam.
RISINGSyn. spring.
ROCK PENDANTA smooth-surfaced projection from the roof of a cave due to solution. Usually in groups.
ROCK SHELTERA cave with a more or less level floor reaching only a short way into a hillside or under a fallen block so that no part is beyond daylight.
ROCKHOLEA shallow, small hole in rock outcrops, often rounded in form and holding water after rains. Well known on the Nullarbor Plain.
ROCKPILEA heap of blocks in a cave, roughly conical or part-conical in shape.
ROOF CRUSTThin speleothem on cave precipitated from water films exuding from pores or cracks.
ROOMA wider part of a cave than a passage but not as large as a chamber.
ROPE PROTECTORA length of heavy fabric or plastic hose placed around a rope where it may rub against rock.
SAFETY LINEA safety rope attached to a caver climbing on a ladder or negotiating a difficult situation and held by a man above.
SALT WEATHERINGDetachment of particles of various sizes from a rock surface by the growth of crystals from salt solutions. Forms substantial features in Nullarbor Plain caves.
SAPROPHAGEA scavenger feeding on decaying organic material.
SATURATED(1) Referring to rock with water-filled voids. (2) Referring to water which has dissolved as much limestone or other karst rock as it can under normal conditions.
SCALEThe ratio of the length between any two points on a map, plan or section to the actual distance between the same points on the ground or in a cave.
SCALING POLESA lightweight metal alloy pole, in short sections for transport and fastened together where used, to raise a ladder to points inaccessible by climbing.
SCALLOPSCurrent markings that intersect to form points which are directed downstream.
SCAVENGERAn animal that eats dead remains and wastes of other animals and plants (cf. coprophage, necrophage, saprophage).
SEA CAVEA cave in present-day or emerged sea cliffs, formed by wave attack or solution.
SECTIONA plot of the shape and details of a cave in a particular intersecting plane, called the section plane, which is usually vertical.
SEDIMENTMaterial recently deposited by water, ice or wind, or precipitated from water.
SEEPAGE WATERSyn. percolation water.
SELENITEA crystalline form of gypsum.
SHAFTA vertical cavity roughly equal in horizontal dimensions but much deeper than broad. Wider than a chimney.
SHAWLA simple triangular shaped curtain.
SHOW CAVEA cave that has been made accessible to the public for guided visits.
SINGLE ROPE TECHNIQUEThe practice of climbing up and down ropes with the help of ascenders and descenders. Abb. = SRT.
SIPHONA waterfilled passage of inverted U-profile which delivers a flow of water whenever the head of water upstream rises above the top of the inverted U.
SLINGA joined loop of rope or tape.
SOLUTIONIn karst study, the change of bedrock from the solid state to the liquid state by combination with water. In physical solution the ions of the rock go directly into solution without transformation. In chemical solution acids take part, especially the weak acid formed by carbon dioxide (CO2).
SOLUTION FLUTEA solution hollow running down the maximum slope of the rock, of uniform fingertip width and depth, with sharp ribs between it and its neighbours.
SOLUTION PANA dish-shaped depression on flattish rock; its sides may overhang and carry solution flutes. Its bottom may have a cover of organic remains, silt, clay or rock fragments.
SOLUTION RUNNELA solution hollow running down the maximum slope of the rock, larger than a solution flute and increasing in depth and width down its length. Thick ribs between neighbouring runnels may be sharp and carry solution flutes.
SPECIESA group of actually or potentially interbreeding populations which is reproductively isolated from other such groups by their biology, not simply by physical barriers.
SPELEOGENA cave feature formed erosionally or by weathering in cave enlargement such as current markings or rock pendants.
SPELEOLOGYThe exploration, description and scientific study of caves and related phenomena.
SPELEOTHEMA secondary mineral deposit formed in caves, most commonly calcite.
SPLASH CUPA shallow cavity in the top of a stalagmite.
SPONGEWORKA complex of irregular, inter-connecting cavities intricately perforating the rock. The cavities may range from a few centimetres to more than a metre across.
SPRINGA natural flow of water from rock or soil onto the land surface or into a body of surface water.
SQUEEZEAn opening in a cave only passable with effort because of its small dimensions. Cf. flattener, crawl (way).
STALACTITEA speleothem hanging downwards from a roof or wall, of cylindrical or conical form, usually with a central hollow tube.
STALAGMITEA speleothem projecting vertically upwards from a cave floor and formed by precipitation from drips.
STATIONA survey point in a chain of such points in a survey.
STEEPHEADA steep-sided valley in karst, generally short, ending abruptly upstream where a stream emerges or formerly did so.
STRAW (STALACTITE)A long, thin-walled tubular stalactite less than about 1cm in diameter.
STREAMSINKA point at which a surface stream disappears underground.
STRIKEThe direction of a horizontal line in a bedding plane in rocks inclined from the horizontal. On level ground it is the direction of outcrop of inclined beds.
STYLOLITESuture in rock formed where pressure solution has taken place, often leaving a thin lamina of insoluble material along it.
SUBJACENT KARSTKarst developed in soluble beds underlying other rock formations; the surface may or may not be affected by the karst development.
SUMPA point in a cave passage when the water meets the roof.
SUPERSATURATEDReferring to water that has more limestone or other karst rock in solution than the maximum corresponding to normal conditions.
SURVEYIn caving, the measurement of directions and distances between survey points and of cave details from them, and the plotting of cave plans and sections from these measurements either graphically or after computation of co-ordinates.
SUUNTO CLINOMETERA small, handheld pendulum clinometer commonly used in cave survey.
SUUNTO COMPASSA small, handheld sighting compass commonly used in cave survey.
SWIRLHOLEA hole in rock in a streambed eroded by eddying water, with or without sand or pebble tools.
SYNGENETIC KARSTKarst developed in eolian calcarenite when the development of karst features has taken place at the same time as the lithification of dune sand.
TAGGINGAffixing a metal tag bearing a cave number near its entrance, normally by means of rock drill and a small nail.
TAFONIRoughly hemispherical hollows weathered in rock either at the surface or in caves.
TAPE(1) In survey, a graduated tape of steel, plastic, wire-reinforced cloth, or fibreglass, used for measuring distance. (2) Strips of woven synthetic fibre used for slings and waist bands.
TERRA ROSSAReddish residual clay soil developed on limestone.
THRESHOLD(1) That part of a cave near the entrance where surface climatic conditions rapidly grade into cave climatic conditions. Not necessarily identical with twilight zone. (2) Slope or cliff facing up a blind or half-blind valley below a present or former streamsink.
THROUGH CAVEA cave which may be followed from entrance to exit along a stream course or along a passage which formerly carried a stream.
TOWERKARSTConekarst in which the residual hills have very steep to overhanging lower slopes. There my be alluvial plains between the towers and flat-floored depressions within them.
TRACEA short length of wire with fasteners used for attaching ladders and ropes to an anchor.
TRACER(1) A material introduced into surface or underground water where it disappears or into soil to determine drainage interconnections and travel time. (2) A material introduced into cave air to determine cave interconnections.
TRAVERSE(1) The commonest form of cave survey in which direction, distance and vertical angle between successive points are measured. (2) A way along ledges above the floor of a cave. (3) To move along such a way.
TRAVERTINECompact calcium carbonate deposit, often banded, precipitated from spring, river or lake water. Cf. tufa.
TROGLOBITEA cavernicole unable to live outside the cave environment.
TROGLODYTEA human cave dweller.
TROGLOPHILEA cavernicole which frequently completes its life cycle in caves but is not confined to this habitat.
TROGLOXENEA cavernicole which spends only part of its life cycle in caves and returns periodically to the epigean domain for food.
TRUE NORTHThe direction of the geographical north pole at a place.
TUBEA cave passage of smooth surface, and elliptical or nearly circular in cross-section.
TUFASpongy or vesicular calcium carbonate deposited from spring, river or lake waters. Cf. travertine.
TUNNELA nearly horizontal cave open at both ends, fairly straight and uniform in cross-section.
TWILIGHT ZONEThe part of a cave to which daylight penetrates.
UVALAA complex closed depression with several lesser depressions within its rim.
VADOSE FLOWWater flowing in free-surface streams in caves.
VADOSE SEEPAGESyn. percolation water.
VADOSE WATERWater in the vadose zone.
VADOSE ZONEThe zone where voids in the rock are partly filled with air and through which water descends under gravity.
VAUCLUSIAN SPRINGA spring rising up a deep, steeply-inclined, water-filled passage into a small surface pool.
VERMICULATIONPattern of thin, worm-shaped coatings of clay or silt on cave surfaces.
VERTICAL ANGLEThe angle in a vertical plane between a line of sight and the horizontal, positive above the horizontal and negative below.
WATER TRACINGDetermination of water connection between points of stream disappearance or of soil water seepage and points of reappearance on the surface or underground.
WATERTABLEThe surface between phreatic water which completely fills voids in the rock, and ground air, which partially fills higher voids.
WATERTRAPA place where a cave roof dips under water but lifts above it farther on. Cf. duck (-under).
WELLA deep rounded hole in a cave floor or on the surface in karst.
WET SUITA diving garment of foam neoprene designed to insulate the diver from the cold but which allows a thin film of water to penetrate between the suit and the body.
WHALETAILA descender consisting of an aluminium block with slots, knobs and a safety gate.
WINDOWAn irregular opening through a thin rock wall in a cave.

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