Glossary of Speleological and Caving Terms

Copyright © Australian Speleological Federation Inc. 2002

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AA A type of lava surface in which the surface was too stiff to flow well, and so broke up into fragments. It is characterised by broken material which can vary from simple lumps to very sharp prickly fragments. It grades to pahoehoe.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
ABNEY LEVEL A type of clinometer, having a bubble tube.
Survey & Mapping term. Ref JJ
ABSEIL Controlled descent on a rope using friction obtained by passing the rope through any of various devices, eg rack, descender, karabiners. Safety considerations in caving would preclude abseling without a mechanical device.
Climbing and SRT. Ref JJ
ACCIDENTAL An animal accidentally living in a cave, and not a normal resident. Usually fallen or washed into cave. Could be drawn in by cave breathing. cf Cavernicole, Troglobite.
Cave - Biota. Ref JJ
ACETYLENE A flammable gas C2H2, produced by water reacting with Calcium Carbide and burnt to yield light. See Carbide.
Miscellaneous terms. Ref JJ
ACTIVE CAVE A cave with a stream flowing in it. cf Live cave.
Cave - Kinds of. Ref JJ
ADAPTATION An inherited characteristic of an organism in structure, function or behaviour which makes it better able to survive and reproduce. Visible examples of adaptations to cave life are: lengthening of appendages, loss of pigments, modification of eyes.
Biology - Flora & Fauna. Ref JJ
ADVENTIVE Introduced accidentally, as most weeds are.
Flora. Ref MM
AEOLIAN Pertaining to the wind. Used for landforms generated by the wind, or sediments transported by the wind. Also as Eolian.
Geology. Ref KG
AEOLIAN CALCARENITE A limestone formed on land by solution and redeposition of calcium carbonate in coastal dune sands that contain calcareous sand from mollusc shells and other organic remains. Also as Eolian. Syn Dune limestone, Aeolianite.
Karst - Kinds of. Ref JJ
AEOLIANITE Also as Eolianite. A rock formed on land by cementation of calcareous dune sands. syn Dune calcarenite, Dune limestone, Aeolian calcarenite. See Calcarenite.
Karst - Kinds of. Ref KG
AFFINITY In biology, a similar but distinct species, closely related to the given species. Also applies to interrelated minerals etc.
Biology - Flora & Fauna. Ref MM
AGGRESSIVE A measure of the relative capacity of water to dissolve rock material. In karst, this usually involves the dissolution of limestone or dolomite by the action of dissolved carbon dioxide. Although other acids may be present.
Hydrology terms. Ref JJ
AIR POCKET An enclosed air space above a lake water surface in a cave. Only accessible by diving.
Cave - Parts of. Ref WM
ALCOVE A side passage that is relatively short (or appears to be so) and does not have an obvious continuation.
Cave - Parts of. Ref MM
ALGAE Photosynthetic plants with a range of pigments in addition to chlorophyll. No root, stem or leaves.
Flora. Ref MM
ALLOGENIC DRAINAGE Underground karst drainage that is derived entirely from surface run off from adjacent non karstic and generally impermeable rocks. Cf Autogenic drainage.
Karst - Miscellaneous features of. Ref DL
ALLUVIUM Sandy or silty matter deposited by rivers or floods.
Geology. Ref MM
AMPHIBIOUS Living on land and in water. cf Terrestrial, Aquatic, Arboreal.
Fauna. Ref MM
ANASTOMOSIS A mesh of small hollow tubes (the result of solution in the phreatic zone) in solid rock, or half tubes when exposed in a fractured rock surface. Typically 1 to 4cm in diameter. The holes are not the 'preserved' tunnels of worm-like animals.
Cave - Erosional & Solutional Features. Ref JJ
ANCHOR A fixed object used to secure a ladder, rope or safety line used for climbing.
Climbing and SRT. Ref JJ
ANEMOLITE A speleothem (eg Helictite, stalagmite) with a preferred orientation caused by air currents. Seen in some Nullarbor caves.
Cave - Depositional Features. Ref WM
ANTENNAE The feelers on the head of an insect, crustacean or other invertebrates that function as sensory organs.
Fauna. Ref AC
ANTHODITE Speleothem similar to Helictites, composed of quill-like or feathery crystal clusters of long needlelike crystals of aragonite or gypsum. Each crystal has a central canal.
Cave - Depositional Features. Ref KG
AQUATIC Living in water. cf Terrestrial, Amphibious, Arboreal.
Fauna. Ref AC
AQUIFER A body of rock saturated with water, that is capable of allowing the subterranean water to be stored, transmitted and is capable of absorbing recharge water. It can yield water through a well or a spring.
Hydrology terms. Ref AC
ARAGONITE A less common crystalline form of calcium carbonate CaCO3 than calcite, being denser and orthorhombic. Typically occurring as many small acicular needles. See Anthodite.
Mineral, Rock and Chemical terms. Ref JJ
ARBOREAL Living in trees. cf Terrestrial, Aquatic, Amphibious.
Biology - Flora & Fauna. Ref MM
ARETE KARST Tropical landscape of near vertical sided spires. Also as Pinnacle Karst.
Karst - Kinds of. Ref WM
ARKOSE A sandstone which contains 25% or more feldspar grains, derived from granitic sources. Arkosic is the adjective.
Geology. Ref KG
ARMCHAIR CAVER An experienced caver who now rarely if ever goes caving, but who may offer advice to those that do.
Miscellaneous terms. Ref MM
ARTEFACT An item of human manufacture, normally applied only to the products of previous culture. Artefacts may or may not be buried by sediment. Examples bone or stone tools, engraving, painting. [Advise cave manager if such items are found.]
Miscellaneous terms. Ref JJ
ARTESIAN Where water moves under pressure through completely flooded cavities. Much of Australia is underlain by Artesian strata.
Geology. Ref TW
ARTHROPODS A Phylum of invertebrates, being very widespread. They are the most common group of animals inhabiting caves, having jointed bodies, many limbs and exoskeletons eg insects, crustaceans, spiders, millipedes.
Fauna. Ref JJ
ASCENDER A mechanical device for ascending a rope.
Climbing and SRT. Ref JJ
ASH Sand sized or finer-grained volcanic ejecta. Coarser material is called lapilli.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
ASPHODILITES no definition (term mentioned in ASF codes)
Miscellaneous terms. Ref MM
ASSOCIATION A stable community of different species living in a specific habitat.
Cave - Biota. Ref JJ
AUTOGENIC DRAINAGE Underground karst drainage that is derived entirely by absorption of meteoric (atmospheric) water into the karst rock surface.
Karst - Miscellaneous features of. Ref DL
AVEN A dome or vertical hole in a cave roof, particularly that is difficult or impossible to free-climb. It does not reach the surface. It may have a passage leading from it. cf Blind shaft.
Cave - Parts of. Ref MM
AZIMUTH In surveying, the true bearing of a survey line, obtained from an accurate survey or
Survey & Mapping term. Ref JJ

Copyright © Australian Speleological Federation Inc. 2002

The Glossary of Speleological and Caving Terms is the copyright property of the
AUSTRALIAN SPELEOLOGICAL FEDERATION INC. (ASF) and any reproduction of it either in part or in full, should have the approval of the ASF, and such reproduction should be accompanied by a copyright notice similar to this one.

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