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574
CAVE

been used by wild beasts as lairs we might reasonably believe also that their exploration would throw light upon the animals which have in many cases disappeared from the countries which they formerly inhabited. The labours of Buckland, Pengelly, Falconer, Lartet and Christy, and Boyd Dawkins have added an entirely new chapter to the history of man in Europe, as well as established the changes that have taken place in the European fauna. The physical history of caves will be taken first, and we shall then pass on to the discoveries relating to man and the lower animals which have been made in them of late years.

Physical History.—The most obvious agent in hollowing out caves is the sea. The set of the currents, the force of the breakers, the grinding of the shingle inevitably discover the weak places in the cliff, and leave caves as one of the results of their work, modified in each case by the local conditions of the rock. Those formed in this manner are easily recognized from their floors being rarely much out of the horizontal; their entrances are all in the same plane, or in a succession of horizontal and parallel planes, if the land has been elevated at successive times. From their inaccessible position they have been rarely occupied by man. Among them Fingal's Cave, on the island of Staffa, off the south-west coast of Scotland, hollowed out of columnar basalt, is perhaps the most remarkable in Europe. In volcanic regions also there are caves formed by the passage of lava to the surface of the ground, or by the expansion of steam and gases in the lava while it was in a molten state. They have been observed in the regions round Vesuvius and Etna, in Iceland and Teneriffe. We may take as an example the Grotto del Cane (“cave of the dog”), near Pozzuoli, a few miles to the south-west of Naples, remarkable for the flow of carbonic acid from crevices in the floor, which fills the lower part of the cave and suffocates any small animal, such as a dog, immersed long enough in it.

The most important class of caves, however, and that which immediately demands our notice, is that composed of those which have been cut out of calcareous rocks by the action of carbonic acid in the rain-water, combined with the mechanical friction of the sand and stones set in motion by the streams which have, at one time or another, flowed through them. They occur at various levels, and are to be met with wherever the strata are sufficiently compact to support a roof. Those of Brixham and Torquay and of the Eifel are in the Devonian limestone; those of Wales, Somerset, the Pennine chain, Ireland, the central and northern counties of Belgium, Saxony, and Westphalia, of Maine and Anjou, of Virginia and Kentucky, are in that of the Carboniferous age. The cave of Kirkdale in Yorkshire, and most of those in Franconia and Bavaria, penetrate Jurassic limestones. The Neocomian and Cretaceous limestones contain most of the Caverns of France, rendered famous by the discovery of the remains of the cave-men along with the animals which they hunted; as well as those of the Pyrenees, the Alps, Sicily, Greece, Dalmatia, Carniola and Palestine. The cave of Lunelviel near Montpellier is the most important of those which have been hollowed in limestones of the Tertiary age. They are also met with in rocks composed of gypsum; in Thuringia, for example, they occur in the saliferous and gypseous strata of the Zechstein, and in the gypseous Tertiary rocks of the neighbourhood of Paris, as, for example, at Montmorency.

Caves formed by the action of carbonic acid and the action of water are distinguished from others by the following characters. They open on the abrupt sides of valleys and ravines at various levels, and are arranged round the main axes of erosion, just as the branches are arranged round the trunk of a tree. In a great many cases the relation of the valley to the ravine, and of the ravine to the cave, is so intimate that it is impossible to deny that all three have been produced by the same causes. The caves themselves ramify in the same irregular fashion as the valleys, and are to be viewed merely as the capillaries in the general valley system through which the rain passes to join the main channels. Sometimes, as in the famous caves of Adelsberg, Kentucky, Wookey Hole in Somersetshire, the Peak in Derbyshire, and in many in the Jura, they are still the passages of subterranean streams; but very frequently the drainage has found an outlet at a lower level, and the ancient watercourses have been deserted. These in every case present unmistakable proof that they have been traversed by water in the sand, gravel and clay which they contain, as Well as in the worn surfaces of the sides and bottom. In all districts where there are caves there are funnel-shaped depressions of various sizes called pot-holes or swallow-holes, or bêtoires, “chaldrons du diable,” “marmites des géants,” or “katavothra,” in which the rain is collected before it disappears into the subterranean passages. They are to be seen in all stages, some being mere hollows which only contain water after excessive rain. While others are profound vertical shafts into which the water is continually falling. Gaping Ghyl, 330 ft., and Helln Pot in Yorkshire, 300 ft. deep, are examples of the latter class. The cirques described by M. Desnoyers belong to the same class as the swallow-holes.

The history of swallow-holes, caves, ravines and valleys in calcareous strata may be summed up as follows:—The calcareous rocks are invariably traversed by joints or lines of shrinkage, which are lines of weakness by which the direction of the drainage is determined; and they are composed to a large extent of carbonate of lime, which is readily exchanged into soluble bicarbonate by the addition of carbonic acid. The rain in its passage through the air takes up carbonic acid, and it is still further charged with it in percolating through the surface soil in which there is decomposing vegetable matter. As the raindrops converge towards some one point, determined by some local accident on the surface, and always in a line of joint, the carbonic acid attacks the carbonate of lime with which it comes into contact, and thus a funnel is gradually formed ending in the vertical joint below. Both funnel and vertical joint below are being continually enlarged by this process. This chemical action goes on until the free carbonic acid is used up. The subterranean passages are enlarged in this manner, and what was originally an insignificant network of fissures is developed into a series of halls, sometimes as much as from 80 to 100 ft. high. These results are considerably furthered by the mechanical friction of the pebbles and sand hurried along by the current, and by falls of rock from the roof produced by the removal of the underlying strata. In many cases the results of this action have produced a regular subterranean river system. The thick limestones of Kentucky, for example, are traversed by subterranean waters which collect in large rivers, and ultimately appear at the surface in full power. The river Axe, near Wells, the stream flowing out of the Peak Cavern at Castleton, Derbyshire, that at Adelsberg in Carniola, flow out of Caverns in full volume. The river Styx and the waters of Acheron disappear in a series of caverns which were supposed to lead down to the infernal regions.

If the direction of the drainage in the rock has been altered, either by elevations such as those with which the geologist is familiar, or by the opening out of new passages at a lower level, these watercourses become dry, and present us with the caves which have afforded shelter to man and the wild animals from the remotest ages, sometimes high up on the side of a ravine, at other times close to the level of the stream at the bottom.

Caves, as a general rule, are as little effected by disturbances of the rock as the ravines and valleys, which have been formed, in the main, irrespective of the lines of fault or dislocation.

We must now examine what happens to the bicarbonate of lime which has been formed by the action of the acid on the limestone. If a current of air play upon the surface of the water, the carbonic acid, which floats up the lime, so to speak, is given off and the insoluble carbonate is deposited, and as a result of this action we have the elaborate and fantastic stony incrustations termed stalactites and stalagmites. The water percolating through the rock covers the sides of the cavern with a stalactitic drapery, and if a line of drops persistently falls from the same point to the floor, the calcareous deposit gradually descends from the roof, forming in some cases stony tassels, and in others long columns which are ultimately united to the calcareous boss formed by the plash of the water on the floor. The surface also of the pools is sometimes, covered over with an ice-like sheet of stalagmite, which shoots from the sides, and sometimes forms a